Raimondo to Cranston firefighters: I respect union contracts

Hours before firefighters planned to picket her fundraiser, Treasurer Gina Raimondo reminded them that she opposed efforts last year by Governor Chafee, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and others to pass legislation suspending pension cost-of-living adjustments in their contracts.

“I do think it’s important to point out I was a staunch advocate in support of protecting and respecting collectively bargained-for agreements for those firefighters, and I still stand by that,” Raimondo told WPRI 12’s Nicole Estaphan on Monday at the State House.

Raimondo also took the opportunity to defend “the long process” that led to the pension law, and suggested Chafee is going the wrong way by holding closed-door talks with union leaders to discuss a possible settlement to end their lawsuit against it.

“Before the General Assembly passed this historic legislation they had dozens of hours of hearings and give and take and a lot of back and forth and negotiation at the time that led to the final passage of the bill,” she said. “Having said that, at some point as part of this process if the courts asks the parties to sit down and mediate we will do that in good faith.”

“I don’t know if [lawmakers] have ever spent more time on any other piece of legislation,” Raimondo added. “They held a special session. They looked at every possible scenario. The labor leaders were present for every part of the discussion.”

• Related: Firefighters organizing pension protest at Raimondo fundraiser (Dec. 10)

19 thoughts on “Raimondo to Cranston firefighters: I respect union contracts

  1. Stop. Just stop. Testimony in not negotiation. No one believes you Gina. This may work in your Wall Street dinners, but it’s not at the Cranston Diner.

  2. If you respected unions, why did you advocate so aggressively for this bill. We paid into our retirement and cost of living adjustments. Additionally, we earned every single dime. There were never any negotiations last year, just testimony, hours of it. Then the General Assembly slammed us! Then they gave themselves a 12% raise to boot.
    How do you like those apples?

  3. No one who was impacted by the pension reform believes for one minute that they were given any consideration in the legislative process. Yes, there was a lot of testimony but it was all for show. All suggestions put forth by union leadership were rejected. This ALEC model legislation was a “fait accompli” and steamrolled with the help of the anonymous donors of ENGAGERI. The teachers and state workers were willing to make sacrifices to maintain the health of the retirement system and to ease the burden on the taxpayers but they were not given the respect they deserved. They were dismissed – bottom line. Time will not heal this. We know the truth. We have not forgotten.
    Ms. Raimondo should spend more time paying attention to the return on the investments in the pension fund and less time on promoting her political career.

    • “Our economic success has never come from the top down,” Mr. Obama said to a few hundred cheering autoworkers. “It comes from the middle out; it comes from the bottom up.”

    • Well said, Jan. Glad you brought up the rate of return issue. In his December 7 blog, Ian Donnis reported that (once again) RI State Pension Fund rate of return for fiscal 2012 was 1.4%, just above the bottom of 1.0% attained by CALPERS. Not surprisingly, this was not reported in ProJo to date. See RINPR ON POLITICS blogs.

  4. It’s absurd to think that Gina Raimondo said that what took place with pension reform was fair. It was anything but. Back in 199t when Lincoln Almond was governor he raised our retirement contribution rate to 8.75% to help pay for retirement and the COLAs. And in 1991 Governor Bruce Sundlum raided the pension fund to pay DEPCO and it never got paid back. Now Gina’s complaining because Governor Chaffee wants to negotiate with the union leaders to prevent the court case from going forward. Apparently she doesn’t think we have rights or rights to our contract. The unions and retirees will prevail indeed! You just wait! Judgement day is coming!

  5. Govt should never get into collective bargaining with unions. Never should have happened. Hopefully ri wins this case and moves to take more from the unions and eventually end and outlaw any public employer negotiating with labor unions…there is no reason for it and the state has no leverage in these negotiations.

  6. “What they’re talking about is giving you the right to make less money,” Obama told the union crowd at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Mich.

    The “so-called right-to-work laws” have nothing to do with economics, Obama added. “They have everything to do with politics.”

    Remember the Democratic President’s quote, Gina. Because it’s the difference between you and a Democrat.

  7. The unions only respect the almighty dollar.Take take and take some more is the union motto.Gina will be your next Governor.

  8. Frank Caprio had very high rates of return (as reported in projo) and worked hard to protect the pension fund.
    Gina has parked the pension money in a low interest CD and spends her time galivanting all over the country to promote herself, instead of improving the pension fund returns.

  9. Why should Raimondo try to raise the rate of return on pension investments? A high rate will only make her look bad during the pension court battle. A low return justifies her reducing it in the first place, which is what she wants. At this rate , the fund with never reach 80% funded, and the COLA will never return. As far as Raimondo is concerned all this is a win, win, win.

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