Union drops Collette Vacations deal over backing for EngageRI

There’s a reason many companies avoid getting involved in politics – they don’t want to alienate potential customers on any side of an issue. Pawtucket-based travel agency Collette Vacations is the latest to learn that lesson.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, ended its relationship with Collette over the weekend thanks to the company’s support for Engage Rhode Island, the deep-pocketed new advocacy group pushing the General Assembly to enact the Raimondo-Chafee pension bill.

NEA’s Member Benefits Corp. subsidiary had a deal with Collette that provided 5% travel discounts and other perks to NEA’s 3.2 million members when they booked their trips through the Pawtucket agency.

The NEA “has severed the relationship it had with Collette,” and “Collette’s involvement with EngageRI factored into the decision-making process,” Robert Walsh, executive director of the NEA’s Rhode Island chapter, told WPRI.com in an email. A spokeswoman for Collette did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

John Galvin, Collette Vacation’s longtime chief financial officer, testified in support of the pension overhaul before the joint finance committee last week, along with other local business leaders including Paul Choquette, former chairman of developer and builder Gilbane, and Merrill Sherman, CEO of Bank Rhode Island.

Collette and Gilbane are among the dozens of organizations listed as “Coalition Members” on EngageRI’s website. Walsh expressed NEARI’s strong opposition to the pension bill in testimony to lawmakers last week.

59 thoughts on “Union drops Collette Vacations deal over backing for EngageRI

  1. This is only the first of many business decisions being made by those effected by this pension disaster and their families and friends, who will NOT patronize those businesses involved in Engage RI, even if they do not have any competitor.

    And then there are the “non=profits” in EngageRI profiting from State and Federal contracts, all taxpayer dollars, with 6 figure salaries. Doesn’t the State monitor these contracts to determine how these taxpayer dollars are being utilized?

    Rhode Island is a small state and it just got a whole lot smaller!!

  2. “This is only the first of many business decisions being made by those effected by this pension disaster and their families and friends, who will NOT patronize those businesses involved in Engage RI, even if they do not have any competitor.”

    sleepless,

    You fail to take into account that there are many that WILL support those businesses, for the very same reasons that the unions won’t. You and the unions like to play the victim card and accuse EngageRI of “being against” you. Maybe you feel that way because EngageRI isn’t just “for” a small number of Rhode Islanders. They’re in favor of not jeopardizing the financial future of our ENTIRE state, and just so happen to be looking at the bigger picture.

    • I guess obtaining multi=million dollar contracts from the State of RI (my taxpayer money!!!) and advocating for the State to cut pension benefits paid for by the employees so that they can get the contracts, isn’t a conflict of interest.

      We are all free to decide whom we wish to patronize.

      • “my taxpayer money!!!)”

        That’s right. It’s only YOUR money. Nobody else’s.

        Talk to me when the union members aren’t sitting on both sides of the bargaining table (union leaders for the unions and legislators who are also union members allegedly bargaining for the state) bestowing unsustainable benefits with ZERO regard as to whether those benefits can ever be paid for.

        “my taxpayer money” indeed!

  3. Congratulations to Bob Walsh for making an example of any agency that expects to receive monies from union members after publically critizing and lobbying against their livelyhood. I, for one, will continue not to patronize any agency, business, etc. that has supported this pension bill.

    • I agree with you “tired of being beaten up”. Currently I’m looking for a new car and home insurer to replace Amica. I’ve done business with them for many years but won’t continue to given their support for EngageRI.

    • Sounds like a good reason to book a trip with Collette! The unions are getting desperate and showing their thuggish instincts.

  4. And what’s the best way to make sure there’s ANY money available to pay bloated pensions with COLAs? Sue! That’s right. We ALL know the unions have every intention of suing at every turn if they don’t get their way and drive the state to insolvency. And you know what will happen then?

    Your Pensions will bite the dust (to the tune of “Another one bites the dust”)

    Oooh let’s go
    Trucks move warily down the street
    This state is ready to blow
    Ain’t no sound but the sound of our feet
    Houses packed up, ready to go
    Are you ready, are you ready for this
    With no money you will feel the heat
    Over the borders our tax dollars will slip
    You will meet your defeat

    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    As another one moves, and another one moves
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Hey, we’re gonna move out too
    Your pensions will bite the dust

    How do you think you’re going to get along
    Without us when we’re gone
    You took us for everything that we had
    So now you’re out on your own

    Are you happy ? Are you satisfied ?
    How long can you stand the heat
    Out of the state our tax dollars will slip
    Your pensions will meet defeat
    Look out!

    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    As another one moves, and another one moves
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Hey, we’re gonna move out too
    Your pensions will bite the dust

    Hey
    Oh take it
    Bites the dust – bite the dust hey
    Hey
    Your pensions will bite the dust
    Your pensions will bite the dust, ow
    Your pensions will bite the dust, hey hey
    Your pensions will bite the dust, heeey
    Ooh show down

    There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man
    And bring him to the ground
    You can beat him
    You can cheat him
    You can treat him bad and leave him
    When he’s down, yeah
    But we’re ready, yes we’re ready for you
    We’re standing on my own two feet
    Over the borders our tax dollars will slip
    Retreating while you meet your defeat
    Oh yeah

    • LOL! Thanks DidYouReallyMeanThat, that is hilarious. You should make a Youtube video.

      That made me laugh harder than the fact Sleepless doesn’t see the irony in “my taxpayer money”. Sleepless wants thier state and local taxes and fees to increase and services to decrease so they can continue to get a COLA. I’m guessing the COLA won’t keep pace with the taxes..

    • If you are an Amica retiree you are fortunate to enjoy generous retirement and healthcare benefits and a Colette trip would be something you could probably afford. Executives of Amica of course have further supplemental pension benefits-they could enjoy one of Colette’s privately escorted trips. The details of the retirement benefits are all available on the Amica web site for all to review. It is ironic, given the commitment to retirement security for their own staff and themselves, that these executives would be funding EngageRI.

      • what you don’t point out is that amica’s retirees are not being paid with taxpayer money, and do not receive the outrageous compounded COLA that state workers do! Why do we expect state workers to be treated differently than private workers, and low pay argument is not it, I know plenty of people who do not make even 40k a year and they have to contribute to a 401/and healthcare all on their own if they hope to retire. Also when the market tanks, their retirement $$ tanks unlike state workers who get a guaranteed monthly income no matter what has happened to the market, we, as taxpayers get to pick up the tab when we will not be able to retire ourselves . So can you see why they are fighting so hard-who wouldn’t? Having our state reach insolvency is not out of the question any more.
        Driving businesses and taxpayers out by asking more and more is a real problem, and what these workers put in should go to them, but not free health care and pensions worth tens of thousands of dollars more than they put in or made while they worked.

  5. If we boycotted the sponsors to the DiPetro show and other hate radio sponsors, there would soon be a change. We don’t effectively use our numbers the way we used to in the 70’s and 80’s, and this is a great first step!

  6. Union bullies, grasping for straws. So, let me get this straight. In light of pensions being reduced, the unions are pulling another benefit offered by Collette to give union members 5% off travel services? Another shining example of the weak union financial acumen that got the state into this mess in the first place!

    I suggest Collette should make those same discounts available to the 16 chambers of commerce across the state, so the small business owner members (who don’t get a pension, BTW) can take advantage of a 5% discount. I’ll bet the numbers are similar, and Collette won’t miss a beat.

    • you are absolutely right @Michelle. the 16 COC in RI can make up for the loss of a huge national organization. he, he, he. Collette vacations has been heavy handed with their politics, including campaigning to employees as to how they should vote and whom they should boycott. It is just life, which keeps on moving.

  7. The people at the NEA, by publicly severing their member benefit program with Collete Vacations, are trying to justify their fat compensation to their members.

  8. I love the irony exhibited by some of these union posters, both here and in other forums. Here they are bragging about their ability to band together to hurt Rhode Island based private sector businesses who cross them, but others adopt a “What, who me?” attitude at the mere hint that the generous contracts and benefits they enjoy and which are now bankrupting the state were the result of collusion between labor backed politicians and union negotiators that resulted from, yes, them banding together and using their numbers. Anyone in Rhode Island not connected to a union (and many who are, just not deeply enough) should feel like a hostage. I am so glad all these folks care so deeply about the AMICA and Colletee employees who will be hurt by this nonsense. By all means, go ahead and boycott them. Then watch them lay people off and see the tax base to pay your pensions shrink even further. Brilliant idea folks.

  9. Collette is an unprofessional and questionable place….

    I applied for a job there, 3 weeks later was asked for more info. for an interview, then was told they were no longer going to hire for the position.

    Was real shadey….

    • “Collette is an unprofessional and questionable place….

      I applied for a job there, 3 weeks later was asked for more info. for an interview, then was told they were no longer going to hire for the position.

      Was real shadey….”

      Laughable post. We are talking about unions and you call a white night of a company unprofessional, questionable and shady. Perhaps you came accross a bit shady as well!

  10. I think the state should just go into receivership, then all the union contracts will ne null and void and they can start from scratch. If the unions were that good you’d be able to keep your accrued pension even if you were fired, like tha private sctor does.

  11. Collette management obviously decided months ago that they didn’t need NEA RI’s business in deciding to “engage” – kudos to this fine company!

    However, the sad thing is, they also don’t need to be in RI, as a whopping 1% of their business that supports 300 jobs comes from within the state, per Mr. Galvin’s testimony at the Statehouse.

    Seems the unions and people of RI need Collette more than the unions believe that they do. What’s ironic about this is NEA-RI is making one huge PR blunder after another as they contribute to the public angst against organized labor.

    Oh and guess what, those of you upset with Amica, they don’t need RI either – but they have my business and their “absolutely fantastic…”

    Continue to show your true colors union leaders!

    • IT’S NOT JUST NEA’S BUSINESS THEY WILL LOSE IN RI-IT’S NATIONWIDE.
      LIKE THE GROUPS OF RETIRED TEACHERS WHO TOOK TRIPS WITH FROM PENNSYLVANIA,COLORODO,GEORGIA..
      AND THEY WILL LOSE POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS WHO SUPPORT WORKERS’ RIGHTS.

  12. Anyone who has read any of my previous posts knows that, to say the least, I’m not a fan of public employee unions. But in this particular case I have to say if they don’t want to spend their money with Collette, they have that right. Personally I say bravo to Collette and to Amica also. I have Amica insurance and now I have yet another reason to stay with them. Any other business that will support pension reform will also get my money.

  13. Hoping (well, really not hoping) that Bob Walsh realizes that he may have just opened up pandora’s box with their members, who may decide against supporting him as their so called leader.

    And, teachers want respect etc. from the public. Shed this bozo and other local leadership and you’ll be on your way to getting all the respect you could have ever wished for!

    Right to work is coming!

  14. The Public Employee Union Song (If I only had a brain)

    (Tin Man aka Union Members)

    We’d be thanking the taxpayer
    With a thoughtful worded prayer
    Time and time again

    We wouldn’t leave their mouths a gapin’
    With our Treasury a rapin’
    If we only had a brain

    Wouldn’t act like foolish gluttons
    Where we might end up with nuttin’
    Don’t we just seem quite insane?

    (Dorothy – aka taxpayer)
    You could maybe try some thinking
    ‘stead of raisin’ all yer stinkin’
    If you only had a brain

    (Union)
    Oh I…can’t tell you why,
    But one thing’s for damned sure
    We ask for things that no one’s got before
    And then we just….we ask for more!

    But we might end up with nuthin’
    If we keep huffin’ & puffin’
    And screamin’ “share the pain!”

    Oh this state could be so merry
    Without all us dingleberries
    Cuz we just don’t have a brain

  15. Pro Jo login and Michell well put comments Unions will only be happy if this State goes belly up and looks like its heading that way see you court.

  16. It seems that ALL of NEA is no longer doing business with Collette, not just the Rhode Island branch. That’s why it made the news.

  17. KUDOS TO BOB WALSH!!
    I WROTE TO COLLETTE LAST WEEK WHEN I SAW THEM AS A MEMBER OF ENGAGERI!
    AS I WILL HAVE TO WORK UNTIL I AM 75 IN ORDER TO SEE 40% OF MY PENSION UNDER THIS PENDING ACT AND AS THERE WILL MOST LIKELY BE ZIPPO IN THE NEW HYBRID IRA WITH THE WORSENING ECONOMY- I WILL NEVER BE A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER OF THEIRS.

    • Marie, how is it possible you’d have to work to age 75 to get a 40% defined benefit pension? The new retirement age is 67 at most, and if you are a current state worker (as is it sounds like you are), you would be able to get more than 40% in the defined benefit, plus your defined contribution account’s holdings.

  18. TO DID YOU REALLY MEAN THAT-THE ONE WHO WROTE THE INFLAMMATORY “UNION SONG”-

    PLEASE TRY TO BE MORE INFORMED BEFORE YOU MAKE ASSUMPTIONS.
    START WITH THE STATE BUDGET-NEW DEPARTMENTS,NEW POSITIONS FOR NON UNION JOBS.
    TREASURY DEPT. PAYING ABOUT $5000/MONTH RENT FOR ANOTHER OFFICE BECAUSE THEY RAN OUT OF ROOM… GO INTO PORTAL GOV’T…

  19. MYSELF AND OTHERS JUST TOOK CROSSROADS OFF OUR DONATION LIST. WILL GIVE TO ANOTHER SIMILAR NON PROFIT AGENCY WHO IS NOT FOR IMPOVERISHING MORE SENIORS.

  20. I CHALLENGE ENGAGE RI TO BE TRANSPARENT AS THEY WISH GOV’T TO BE AND SHOW WHO IS FINANCING THEIR BIG BUDGET OF AIR TIME, MAILINGS,WEBSITE…

  21. TED NESI- THE MAXIMUM PENSION PERCENTAGE PROPOSED IS 40 PER CENT FOR 38 YEARS WORKED.
    RIGHT NOW THE MAX IS 75 PERCENT.I HAVE 19 YEARS IN AND AM AGE 54.
    I’M NOT A JUDGE -THEY’LL GET THE 75 OR 80 % PENSION.

    AND AS FOR THE INVESTMENT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT- AS IN SUNDAY PROJO’S ARTICLE AND WHERE RAIMONDO HERSELF ACKNOWLEDGED-THERE COUYLD BE A 0% YIELD FROM THAT.
    EVEN WHILE WE WILL BE PAYING 5 % OF OUR PAYCHECK INTO IT…

    • Marie, that’s incorrect. The defined benefit will not be capped at 40% if the bill passes. And if you have 10 or more years in the system, as you do, your pension is governed by the transition rules, not be the full new system.

      You would be eligible for the full defined benefit you accrue through next June 30 under the current pension system, and then you will be able to decide whether you want to retire at your current retirement age without additional 1% defined benefit accruals (but with defined contribution accruals) or continue in the new system to your Social Security retirement age. You can also accept an actuarially reduced pension and retire up to five years before your Social Security age.

      It’s true there are no guarantees on the investment earnings of the defined contribution account, but if the DC yields 0% that implies the pension fund would also be near insolvency soon because its investments would have flatlined, as well.

      • TED-YOU ARE INCORRECT.
        FIRST-I CANNOT RETIRE NOW. ACCORDING TO CURRENT STATE EMPLOYEE POLICY-YOU CURRENTLY HAVE TO BE AGE 66 FOR MY AGE BRACKET OF AGE 54 WITH LESS THAN 25 YEARS SERVICE. THIS CHANGE HAPPENED 2 YEARS AGO-THAT WAS ONE REASON WHY MANY RETIRED THEN.
        SECOND-I WILL NOT BE EXEMPT FROM THE NEW PROPOSAL OF THE HYBRID PLAN. ONLY JUDGES,STATE POLICE AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WILL BE.
        THAT GUIDLEINE ABOUT THE 10 YEARS MINIMUM SERVICE AND AGE 52 OR MORE STATES I CAN RETIRE AT AGE 62 UNDER THE PROPOSED ACT.
        ALL OF US WILL BE ON THE HYBRID PLAN.
        AS OF 7/1/12 I WILL BE CONTRIBUTING 3.75 INTO MY REGULAR PENSION AND 5% OF MY PAY INTO THE IRA. THE STATE WILL CONTRIBUTE 1% INTO THE IRA. WHAT HAS BEEN ACCRUED IN THE REGULAR PENSION WILL BE THERE TO DRAW ON BASED ON YEARS OF SERVICE.
        OUR BENEFIT PERCENTAGE WE RECEIVE WHEN WE RETIRE IS BASED ON YEARS OF SERVICE. THAT CONTINUES.
        CURRENTLY IT IS 75% MAXIMUM.
        WITH THE NEW PROPOSAL- THE MAXIMUM A RETIREE CAN RECEIVE AFTER 38 YEARS SERVICE WILL BE 40% OF THEIR AVERAGE PAY.

      • TED-WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO PUT MONEY INTO AN IRA? I WAS IN PRIVATE SECTOR AND HAD A CHOICE TO HAVE ONE OR NOT.
        I’D RATHER SET UP A NEST EGG ACCOUNT WITH 5 % OF MY PAYCHECK AND 1% OF MY PAY FROM THE STATE.

      • You should definitely bring that to the State Investment Commission if they wind up creating the DC accounts – they’re going to create the investment options based on feedback they receive. The current draft of the bill gives them some discretion.

  22. Marie, what is your retirement age according to the downward proportionality chart. This is your retirement age following the 2009 pension changes. The new bill allows you to keep that retirement age as long as you have 10 years of service. The caveat is that you must retire using your last five year average salary as of June 30, 2012, and you must also use the percentage you have earned as of that date. You may still keep any funds you have earned in the 401k style account going forward. You won’t be able to keep the 1% the state kicks in unless you retire three years after June 30, 2012, because those funds vest after three years.

  23. Marie, I just realized my reply left out the fact that if you retire after June 30, 2012 according to the third transition rule I mentioned, and you decide to wait until age 62 to retire ( assuming you are age 52 at passage) you may keep accruing 1% towards your pension with out a cap. If you have 50% now and you are 52 and you want to work until you are 82, you can still retire with 80%, plus your 401k, plus the 1% each year the state kicked in to your 401kstyle account.

    • HI SNOW- THIS IS SO CONFUSING IN MANY WAYS.ALOT OF MISINFORMATION OUT THERE… THE STATE IS INCLUDING THE SOCIAL SECURITY % IN THE TOTAL % PENSION RATE.
      I WILL NEVER SEE 8O% OF THE PENSION BECAUSE RIGHT NOW THE CAP IS 75% FOR MAX 35 YEARS OF SERVICE.
      AND THE NEW PROPOSAL IS 40% OF ONE’S AVERAGE PAY FOR 38 YEARS OF SERVICE.THAT IS WHAT I READ IN THE BILL AND IN ALL OF THE PROJO ARTICLES,INTERVIEWS WITH RAIMONDO. SURE-THEN ADD PROBABLY 0 RETURN FROM THE 401K WHICH RAIMONDO WAS QUOTED AS SAYING IN SUNDAY’S PROJO AS POSSIBLE.
      THE JUDGES RECEIVE 80% NOW. OURS DROPPED TO 75 % NOT TOO LONG AGO.
      UNDER THE PROPOSAL,YES I COULD RETIRE AT AGE 62 BECAUSE I AM AT LEAST 52 WITH AT LEAST 10 YEARS SERVICE. HOWEVER, I COULD NOT AFFORD TO AS THE PERCENTAGE OF MY AVERAGE SALARY WILL BE SO LOW! I DO NOT MAKE A BIG SALARY!
      THANK YOU FOR THE INFO ABOUT THE STATE’S 1% CONTRIBUTION TO THE 401K NEEDING 3 YEARS VESTING-DID NOT KNOW THAT!
      SO NOW I WONDER IF THE SAME 3 YEAR VESTING RULE IS TRUE FOR THE EMPLOYEE’S 5% CONTRIBUTION TO THE 401K.

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