Town employee paid $6,000 to resign in Rumford

Former Rumford Public Works employee Jim Viger provided the Sun Journal with a copy of this 2007 petition he claims was circulated by fellow employees who tried unsuccessfully to have him sign it to state their displeasure with selectmen, who rehired Public Works employee Robert Bradley Jr. after acting Town Manager Stacy Carter fired Bradley in April 2007. It is signed by seven employees.
Former Rumford Public Works employee Jim Viger provided the Sun Journal with a copy of this 2007 petition he claims was circulated by fellow employees who tried unsuccessfully to have him sign it to state their displeasure with selectmen, who rehired Public Works employee Robert Bradley Jr. after acting Town Manager Stacy Carter fired Bradley in April 2007. It is signed by seven employees.
By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal
Posted Jan. 08, 2012, at 5:58 a.m.

RUMFORD, Maine — Town officials continue to remain mum on reasons why they paid Robert J. Bradley Jr. $6,000 to resign in November from his job of 25 years with the Public Works Department.

A Sun Journal Freedom of Access Act request filed last month with Town Manager Carlo Puiia revealed two disciplinary decisions against Bradley: one in 2003 and another last February.

The 2003 decision by Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell states that on Feb. 4, Bradley refused to plow snow per Russell’s direction on Kerr Street, then argued with Russell before ignoring him.

Russell accused Bradley of insubordination before suspending him for two days without pay and required him to undergo three counseling sessions, according to the document.

Russell listed two prior warnings against Bradley, on Jan. 21, 2002, and October 1998, but didn’t detail them.

In the February 2011 document, Russell accused Bradley of violating a zero-tolerance policy on workplace violence on Feb. 2 by threatening fellow employee Jim Viger, who quit later that day after a 12-year career.

In the document, Russell writes to Bradley, “You were speaking to Mr. Viger over the town radio about using the bucket loader. You became aggressive toward him and threatened him.”

Citing the policy, and with Puiia’s approval, Russell suspended Bradley for three days without pay.

But the settlement agreement, also obtained by the FOAA request, doesn’t say why Bradley had to resign.

It states that the Public Works union, AFSCME Council 93, filed a grievance on Nov. 22 on behalf of the union and Bradley, whose employment ended on Nov. 18.

The agreement states that Bradley would sign a letter of resignation dated Nov. 18 and be paid $6,000, and the union would withdraw its grievance “regarding the ending of Bradley’s employment with the town and regarding disparate treatment.”

The agreement further states that the settlement is in compromise “of a doubtful and disputed claim,” and that the $6,000 payment doesn’t constitute an admission on the town’s part.

It was done to avoid more costly litigation, Puiia said last month.

Due to terms of the settlement, neither Bradley nor anyone from Public Works nor town officials could speak about what Puiia called a “business deal.”

Town lawyer Jennifer Kreckel said recently that there was nothing in Bradley’s file about a April 2007 incident, wherein acting Town Manager Stacy Carter fired Bradley. Selectmen rescinded that action by a 3-1 vote after an executive session on April 26, 2007, and rehired Bradley.

Because of the selectmen’s action being the final decision, Puiia said the town doesn’t have to provide Carter’s reasoning. An FOAA request can only get final decisions on disciplinary actions.

However, Jim Viger, now of Westminster, S.C., defended his friend Bradley, despite the incident on Feb. 2, 2011.

On Dec. 21, Viger accused Public Works management of creating a hostile work environment and repeatedly trying to force Bradley to quit.

Viger said that he himself was repeatedly harassed.

“It got bad the last couple of years,” Viger said. “Bobby was not well-liked up there by a lot of people for, they can say his attitude, I guess, but he stuck up for himself. A lot of people up there didn’t get along. That’s one of the reasons why I got done.”

Viger said that after selectmen rehired Bradley, several fellow Public Works employees tried to get him to sign their May 3, 2007, petition that states its signers didn’t agree with the board’s decision.

The document, which Viger provided to the Sun Journal, states, “By overturning the interim town manager’s decision to terminate Mr. Bradley, you have sent a clear message to all town employees that 20 years of insubordination will be tolerated by the town.

“Mr. Bradley has been a constant disruption to this department over his entire career,” the petition states. “He has been given many chances to correct this pattern of behavior, but consistently disregards them. We want you to know that we do not agree with your decision.”

The petition is signed by seven workers. Puiia, who became town manager in 2009, said he wasn’t aware of the petition.

“I know a lot of people have kind of depicted Bobby as a bad person, but he isn’t,” Viger said. “The town’s trying to make him look like the bad guy, and he’s really not.”

Regarding the settlement agreement, Viger said that an altercation led to Bradley’s resignation. However, he said he didn’t know what transpired.

Asked if either filed grievances with the union, Viger said Bradley did, but nothing came of it, so they didn’t pursue any more.

“Basically, the way it was up there, if you filed a grievance, you were all of a sudden a bad guy for it,” Viger said.

Puiia said that if there was a complaint made to the supervisor and the supervisor didn’t act, “the union would have filed a grievance. If his union would not stand up for him, they must have a good reason why they would not.”

To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/01/08/news/town-employee-paid-6000-to-resign-in-rumford/ printed on April 17, 2014