Lawyers brief judge for 10th time on RI pension lawsuit talks

Lawyers on Tuesday once again briefed the judge overseeing a union lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul about the progress of their court-ordered mediation to settle the case.

Attorneys on both sides of the suit met late Tuesday morning with R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter, court spokesman Craig Berke said. Last December she ordered the state and the unions into a formal, closed-door mediation process overseen by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Tuesday’s status conference took place just two weeks after the last one, a much shorter time frame between meetings than in the past, which has added to speculation that the two sides are nearing an agreement. That buzz will likely grow now: Berke said the next status conference will be Nov. 21, a week from Thursday.

A union leader revealed in August that a subcommittee has been formed to communicate with workers and retirees about the terms of a settlement, which Gov. Lincoln Chafee has repeatedly said he hopes will work out. But some state lawmakers have expressed concerns about what that would mean.

Tuesday’s status conference was the tenth one the two sides have held since last winter. The previous ones were on Oct. 28, Sept. 30, Sept. 5, Aug. 6, May 17, April 22, March 25, Feb. 28 and Feb. 1.

• Related: RI lawmakers worried about secret talks to rewrite pension law (Oct. 15)

25 thoughts on “Lawyers brief judge for 10th time on RI pension lawsuit talks

  1. Lets see if I get this straight….gina is using my pension money to litigate a case against me….for benefits that were promised to me by the state during 34 years of employment….saying we needed pension reform….when all the savings from denying retirees their vested cola is going to pay the exorbitant rates that these under performing hedge fund charge…while at the same time she is taking big time money from out of state hedge fund cronies to fund her election campaign.
    and of course gina wants to be the democratic nominee from the democratic party…….something smells fishy here…don’t you think…..

    • Doesn’t it always when it involves the the state aka the democrats. Their own personal pockets are too big and as far as their concern for the taxpayers, there isn’t.

  2. hope they keep the reforms the way they were. people can’t afford to pay these multi-million $ pensions and support themselves.

  3. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bob, but most retirees make under 25k per annum….not what you call multi-million dollar pensions…and don’t forget we paid 9.5% of our salary into this pension fund….and so called reforms you refer to are again a sham….all the savings are going to pay exhorbitant fees to the hedge funds….who are in turn help funding ‘gina’s election…so before you go frothing at the mouth…get your facts straight…but it sounds like you are the type of right winger who watches fox propaganda where facts don’t count…!!!!

    • Robert is exactly right. In addition, there were many cities and towns that skipped their contributions over the years. Will Gina pleased release the officials that made the decisions to not make contributions.
      The simple fact is that the 3% auotomatic raise was not sustainable. It should be linked to the COLA’s of Social Security.
      Gina wants future COLA’s linked to the performance of the Investment Fund. What an absurd idea. Plus, she has the nerve to say that the defined contribution plan will make up the difference for what participants would have made from the defined benefit plan. Yea. If you average about50% per year on your investment portion.
      Gina has her nose so deep in the butts of Wall Street,it would take a surgeon to get it out.

  4. Robert: “all the savings are going to pay exorbitant fees to hedge funds”. Try to explore this thought process before you spout it. The pension reforms resulted in hundreds of millions of savings for the state annually that they couldn’t afford to pay, and your argument is because hedge funds (higher risk yet higher reward asset class) are being utilized by the new investment plan, that “it’s all” being funneled directly to hedge funds?? Somehow I feel like projo or Mr. Nesi would have picked up on this in an article somewhere, perhaps made national news. I believe you were being intentionally polemic, but it greatly distracts from your point. Clearly the savings aren’t going directly to hedge funds.

    And the legal costs are relatively minute compared to the savings to the taxpayer, not much of an argument.

    And unfortunately your DB pension relies on the strength of the state to pay you. Most of us rely on defined contribution, meaning we have no state backstop like you’ve had for so long, we rely on the market.Give and take, and unfortunately because of ineptitude on the state’s behalf combined with greed on the union’s behalf (3% COLAs no matter what, correct me if I’m wrong), your pension is underfunded and you’re having to give.

    • When he said “all the savings are going to pay exorbitant fees to hedge funds.” He was referring, I believe, to what he said in his first post, regarding the savings from eliminating COLAs. Where he got that idea was probably from Ted Siedle who, in his report stated that:
      “The so-called “reforms” of the state pension in the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011, which include slashing the COLA, I’m told are projected to save $2.9 billion over 20 years. Suspension of the COLA is estimated to represent $2.3 billion of that savings.
      I can tell you where that COLA savings is going—into the already-stuffed pockets of Wall Street’s most highly-compensated gamblers—almost dollar-for-dollar. By my estimate, $2.1 billion in fees (out of the $2.3 billion in COLA savings) will be paid by the pension to hedge, private equity and venture capital tycoons. That’s some “reform.” No wonder Wall Street is so eager to support this shameless public pension money grab.”
      So, indeed, it was “in an article somewhere, perhaps made national news.”
      And the terms of your agreement with your employer regarding retirement, is irrelevant, except to the extent that whatever you ‘rely’ on, it was spelled out when you were hired, and you agreed to it, and no one is telling you after you’ve been paying into it for three decades, that they’re changing that agreement, and reducing your benefits..

      • Then my only other request is that citizens engage in critical thinking. Does one truly believe that hedge funds are racking up $2.1 billion in fees off of Rhode Island alone (nearly 50% of the total state budget??). Indeed, had you read the entire article (that you cited!) you would have read that RI paid merely $70 million in management fees, around 1% of the total asset base of the pension systems.

        When will people realize that money being invested in the markets is not “lining the pockets” of Wall Street. Investing $2.1 billion does not equal putting money directly into a hedge fund manager’s bank account for his next yacht. You invest, they take a small fee and a % of gains made for their expertise, very similar to the fee structure in other industries.

        It’s disingenuous a cowardly misrepresentation of the facts to pretend that all savings from the pension reform went straight to pay Wall Street.

      • Then my only request is that you work on reading comprehension. The 2.1 billion in fees is a projection of fees paid over 20 years, used as a comparison to the savings projected by suspending COLAs for 20 years. So what exactly does the fact that it is “nearly 50% of the total state budget”, for ONE YEAR have to do with anything? I read the entire article “that I cited!”, but unlike you, I actually understood it. There is nothing “small” about these fees.
        And no one is a coward, or pretending anything. I’ll repeat since you’re evidently not too bright: Neither Robert or I are talking about “all savings”. The point was, and continues to be, that the projected savings from suspending the COLAs over 20 years, is about the same as the projected fees over those 20 years. Disingenuous indeed…

      • Those numbers you cite are fixed costs. They exist with or without reform. Net net, reform still saves money.

  5. I think Robert is probably on the money with this one! The more people dig for the truth, the more Gina’s spokesperson spins. The litigation costs keep going up and are being spread out to make them harder to track. The hedge fund fees are hidden for the most part by redacting reports or claiming privilege. The Pension Investments under Gina are not even hitting the national averages, but her war chest grows from her special interest cronies. Yes, there needs to be reform that we all can afford and hopefully that is where the mediation is taking all of us. Playing the win all-lose all games in the courts does nothing to protect taxpayers and retirees. For a change, Chafee was right that there needs to be negotiation instead of litigation. Local pension systems are next with less than honest plans being filed with the state which shift the burden to employees. My friend in Narragansett tells me that their plan cut benefits to half of the current employee unions, threaten retirees, while the Town doesn’t put one cent of the $15 million they didn’t pay back into the pension investments. Some plan!

  6. Unionists hate reform…rest of us need it.
    Pretty cut and dry. All the arguments against Gina are just arguments against changing anything.
    The unionists would sell the statehouse, the roads, the forest and the sidewalks to the highest bidder if it kept their “retire at 50” scam going.
    They could not care less about their children or grandchildren’s future in RI!
    Look at Detroit pensioners. They won’t budge an inch. They’ll take the whole ship right down if they have to.

  7. Read the posts on the Detroit free press bankruptcy articles. The union members are blaming the state for not bailing out Detroit. Too funny, they think the rest of Michigan should bail out their bad decisions.

    Chicago credit rating was dropped 3 notches last week. The ponzi scheme called “defined pensions” perpetuated on the American people is coming to a fast stop. In twenty years there will be peace and tranquility between the average working Joe and the public employee’s.

  8. O.K. we can reform the pension for those future retirees so that it doesn’t drain the budgets….no problem..that is the plan they will come to work under…..but to reform the pensions of people who have worked for you their whole lifes and made retirement plans accordingly is a lit bit disingenuous..and Bob is really doesn’t matter …..because the state will loose this court case…why else do you think your friend gina has already spent over $450,000 to litigate…and like Mr. Caprio said…in every case like this the plantiffs(retirees)have won….and if we do there will be no negotiations at that time…so I am sorry you personally have a lousy pension plan…but that gives you no credence to deny the benefits that were promised me in writing by the state for 34 years of employment….I was told when I first started working…your pay is lousy but the benefits and pension plan is good…what did I know at 23 years of age?….now at 64 without social security …I need that cola to live….and I am like many other state retirees…..

    • Robert, you are like so many Americans today. Take from somebody else, don’t take from me. Tax somebody else, don’t tax me. The government needs the young fit and healthy to buy insurance for the ACA to work. The fear is that not enough will. Its like they don’t realize they too will be old and infirm, and will need people not born yet to subsidize them.
      The people of Rhode Island have watched great wealth and good paying jobs leave the state. And we pay some of the highest taxes (5th) in the country. Now its time for all of us to come together and find a path out of this mess. If the unions would just think for a minute about their brothers and sisters in municipal pension plans they will drop the lawsuit and get on board. If the unions do win it will cause a rash of bankruptcies across Rhode Island. State aid, which is more than half of some city budgets will dry up to a trickle. Thousands of retirees will be in the same situation as the Central Falls retirees. A lot of retirees are getting the short end of the stick, as have the taxpayers. Join me in calling for an end to the suit and moving Rhode Island forward.

  9. CA CHING, CA CHING, CA CHING! YEAH, IT MUST BE THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! My Union Boss down at the Town Hall emailed me yesterday and.
    Told me that this article was hitting the Papers today, and He told Me.
    to make it Look like I was Working till this Blows Over in a week. I
    know the routine! In a week, I’ll be back to my usual activity of.
    Collecting A Paycheck for Doing Nothing! Hey, Private Sector.
    Workers; You really gotta Pony Up more Taxes! I need at least a 10 %.
    raise! My Cabin Cruiser at the Dock behind my Vacation House in.
    Florida needs a New Engine. My wife has been after me for a new car.
    She wants a BMW X6 G-Power Typhoon S! I told her I can’t afford that.
    car. So then she says she will accept a Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and.
    Nothing else! I also got Private School Tuition of $ 40,000.00 due.
    in September. I got Credit Card Expenses coming out my AXX! That
    new 3000 sq ft extension on my house raised my property taxes $ 15,000.
    The maid and the housekeeper want raises. The gardener also wants a.
    raise. You see Bunky; It ain’t easy in the Public Sector! So come
    on Private Sector Worker; Pony Up and Pay More Taxes so I can afford to.
    live here! You See; Life Is Not Fair, and the DemoRats will take.
    care of Everything! HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

  10. The news says over and over about the huge pensions that are given out in this State. There are a FEW I agree, HOWEVER, most are 25000 or less. From how things look to me, when someone retires from the State, they go to the pension board, or whatever they call it, and go over the pension benefits that they were supposed to receive. The representative from the pension board has you sign a paper, and then they sign the same paper. As far as I know, that is a legal, binding contract. I could be wrong, and if I am please correct my thinking.
    As far as the COLA being taken away, thats as if you purchased a car and the dealer asked if you wanted GPS, which was an option. You said yes, knowing that it was going to cost extra. You buy the car with the GPS that you paid for and take it home. A few months go by, and one day you see the car dealer in the yard taking the GPS out. You ask what happened. and are told, sorry we are taking them all back. You ask, what about the extra money that I paid for that, because it was an option. You are told thats just the way it is, sorry. I wonder how many people would be upset if that happened to social security, told sorry, its just the way it is.
    PS I AM NOT a union person, and am very much against unions.

  11. Tom Jones, it is happening to social security. People are getting less money later. People basically get back one dollar for every dollar they put in. The high wage earners get less than they put in and low wage earners get more than they put in. Social Security has no guaranteed COLA. Most people understand that the politicians are way to late in amending the benefits. Because retiree’s are similar to unions as a one issue voting block politicians didn’t act early enough. Now a generation late changes have been started. Whats happening in RI with pension reform is very similar to what has happened to people that paid into social security their whole lives with an expectation that the government will keep its promise. The ponzi scheme of defined benefit pensions need to end.

    • So defined benefit pensions “need to end” for other people, because you feel you’re getting robbed by Social Security. Got it.

      • Defined pensions need to end because their bankrupting cities all across America. Not because there are changes needed in social security. I know that for me I’ll never get back what I paid in.
        This is the beginning of a lot of pain. Pain for taxpayers and public union workers. If I pay for private trash pick up I know exactly what that service cost me. When the city picks up the trash I pay for some of that service today and the rest over the next 30 years. There is no transparency for the costs of services under today’s services. Politicians make a promise and pray like hell there is enough growth to bring in the necessary revenue to pay for benefits that they can’t afford. More revenue means that the unions want more and the cycle continues until you end up like Detroit.

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