County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Gregory P. Piccirilli, Esq.
Defendant: Margaret L. Hogan, Esq.
matter before the Court is an appeal from a decision of the
Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board (the Labor Board)
involving an unfair labor practice dispute, Case No.
ULP-6159, between the West Warwick Housing Authority
(Appellant) and R.I. Council 94, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Local 2045
(the Union). The Appellant takes issue with the Labor
Board's conclusion that it violated the State Labor
Relations Act, G.L. 1956 § 28-7-13.
labor dispute was born in the events of April 9-10, 2015. At
9:41 p.m. on April 9, Appellant's attorney, Gregory
Piccirilli (Attorney Piccirilli) sent out two emails. In
the Matter of R.I. State Labor Relations Bd. and W. Warwick
Housing Auth., Case No. ULP-6159, Decision and Order, at
2 (hereinafter Decision). One went to Ann Marie Petrozzi
(Petrozzi), the Union Vice President; the other went to
Alexis Lyman (Lyman), the Senior Staff Representative for the
Union. Id. Both missives contained the same message:
the recipient's presence was requested at 8:30 a.m. the
next morning (April 10) for a meeting regarding a potential
insubordination issue. Id.
replied the next morning at 7:26 a.m. that she was off and
would not be able to attend the meeting; shortly thereafter,
Attorney Piccirilli replied that the meeting had to take
place and explained that it required a Union representative
for the employee concerned. Id. Just a few minutes
later, Lyman also replied that she was unavailable at 8:30
a.m., but could make a 10:30 a.m. meeting. Attorney
Piccirilli stood fast on his demand for a representative at
8:30 a.m. Id.
called this 8:30 a.m. meeting because of a workplace dispute
between a supervisor, Kathleen Fagan (Fagan), and Rose Marie
Coates (Coates), who was employed by Appellant as a
Receptionist and Acting Housing Specialist for approximately
three years. Id. Coates was not informed of the
contemplated meeting until she arrived at work on the morning
of April 10 and was confronted by Attorney Piccirilli.
Id. She asked Attorney Piccirilli if the meeting
could lead to discipline. Id. Upon his affirmative
response, she requested Lyman as her Union representative.
Id. at 3.
Piccirilli, aware of Lyman's inability to attend the
meeting at 8:30 a.m., rejected her request. Id. He
told Coates that he had arranged for Shawn Riley (Riley), the
Union President, to attend instead. Id. Riley did
not, however, show up for the meeting; instead, Attorney
Piccirilli directed another employee and Union member, Andrew
Nestor (Nestor), to attend the meeting. Id. Nestor
is neither a Union representative nor an officer.
Id. Coates reiterated her desire to have Lyman serve
as her Union representative. Id. Before she could
complete her reiteration of her rights, though, Attorney
Piccirilli informed her that she was suspended, with further
information regarding discipline to follow by letter.
Union then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the
Labor Board. Following briefing and a hearing, the Labor
Board concluded that Coates was a member of the bargaining
unit represented by the Union, that a valid collective
bargaining agreement was in place, and that Coates's
Weingarten rights were violated by Attorney
Piccirilli's actions on behalf of Appellant. Id.
at 14. It held that Appellant committed unfair labor
practices in violation of §§ 28-7-13(3) and
28-7-13(10) by: (1) refusing to allow Coates adequate
representation at the meeting she reasonably believed could
lead to discipline; (2) interfering with the Union's
administration by dictating the presence of another employee
who was not a Union representative or officer; and (3) when
it suspended Coates in response to her asserting her
Weingarten rights. Appellant takes issue with all