Lawyers brief judge for 11th time on RI pension lawsuit talks

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

Attorneys on both sides of the suit met last Thursday 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.

The “status quo” in the pension talks continues, Berke said after conferring with Taft-Carter.

Thursday’s status conference took place less than two weeks after the previous one as the time frame between meetings shrinks, which has fueled rising speculation that the two sides are nearing an agreement. The next status conference will be Dec. 9 at 9 a.m., almost a year after Taft-Carter ordered talks to begin.

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. Some state lawmakers, however, have expressed concerns about what that would mean.

Thursday’s status conference was the 11th one the two sides have held since last winter. The previous ones were on Nov. 12, Oct. 28, Sept. 30, Sept. 5, Aug. 6, May 17, April 22, March 25, Feb. 28 and Feb. 1.

3 thoughts on “Lawyers brief judge for 11th time on RI pension lawsuit talks

  1. While it may not be what taxpayers, current workers or politicians want to hear, there are undeniably different categories of plaintiffs in the potential lawsuits. The court must separate out these differing parties if it wishes to reach a settlement that will withstand ultimate reversal years later after much wasted tax payer money and angst to all involved. Before Treasurer Raimondo appeared on the hot political scene, the state of RI solicited 3 legal opinions on what changes to the pension system would successfully withstand legal challenge and reversal in subsequent appeals. The consensus of these opinions was that the least likely changes to the pension system that would not be reversed would be changes involving already retired pensioners. The second least likely changes would involve current employees within the state pension system who were eligible to retire under the then existing rules at the time of the changes. The third option ranged from changes to new employees to a prorated adjustment to current employees which phased in any changes proportionally to the number of years of service already completed. Amazingly, the Treasurer convinced the General Assembly and Senate that there was no problem making changes to the first two categories identified by paid law consultant just a few years earlier. If the current mediation does not recognize what all three law firms who looked at the issue concluded, then the state of RI is in for a prolonged , expensive process that will screw everyone with a dog in the race, except the
    General Treasurer, who will have served two terms and be long gone. Where’s the Don and the Big Audit when we need him?

  2. In the meantime even social security gives a raise annually. How would people who collect soc. sec. feel if colas were stopped annually. There are some teachers in school systems that did not contribute to soc. sec. and do not collect soc. sec.They rely solely on their state pension to live on. Think about how many are affected, the time wasted, and the monies spent an the monies that will continue to be spent …but not on the retirees. Yjere are no savings here Mr. and Mrs Taxpayer. You were hoodwinked into thinking the taxpayers were going to save money.

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