Pension settlement ballots sent; due back by April 3

March 17th, 2014 at 2:54 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

This just in from the union plaintiffs coalition:

Mail ballots have been sent to members and retirees who are eligible to participate in the first round of voting.

Voting members shall be advised that ballots must be received no later than Thursday April 3, 2014. A self-addressed, postage-paid envelope has been provided with the ballot. Ballot tabulation will be independently administered by ProMail.

Per the terms outlined in the settlement agreement, the mail balloting process for this round of voting must be completed within 60 days of February 14, 2014.

ProMail Etc. is a Providence-based nonprofit social venture affiliated with The Providence Center, a behavioral health organization, that offers job opportunities to individuals “with barriers to employment,” according to ProMail’s website.

Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the plaintiffs, said he wasn’t sure when ProMail will finish tabulating the ballots or how the results will be announced. He directed further questions to Garry Bliss, who was a senior official in former Providence Mayor David Cicilline’s administration and is now a Providence Center executive.

“We’re not involved in the balloting tabulation process,” Sullivan told WPRI.com. “It’s an independent thing and they do that.”

Bliss told WPRI.com ProMail will not begin tabulating the ballots until after the April 3 deadline. “We will begin tabulating on April 4th and complete the tabulating in an expeditious manner and then release the results to the plaintiffs,” he said.

Sullivan directed questions about how the tabulated results would be released publicly to Bliss. But Bliss in turn said questions about public release of the results should go to Sullivan. “We will be releasing the results to the plaintiffs,” he said again.

Informed of Bliss’s comments, Sullivan clarified: “Upon completion of the tabulation of the ballots they will report the results to the plaintiffs who will, in turn, report the results to the Court. I cannot tell you on what day that will occur because I do not know how long it will take ProMail to tabulate the ballots. Consistent with the process, all public filings will be made available as quickly as possible.”

A total of 24,297 ballots were sent out, according to Sullivan, a former Democratic state lawmaker.

As a reminder, ballots will only be returned if the worker or retiree wants to vote “no” – anyone who doesn’t return a ballot will effectively be casting a “yes” vote. If the settlement wins approval during this first round of voting and the judge certifies the affected workers and retirees as a class for class action purposes, a second round of voting will take place later in the spring to approve the settlement.

There’s been no indication so far that the General Assembly, which also needs to approve the settlement, will take it up anytime soon. It’s possible lawmakers will wait until all the plaintiff-side voting rounds are complete.

Here’s what the ballot union members and retirees are getting actually looks like:

RI_pension_settlement_ballot_1This post has been updated with additional comments from Garry Bliss and Ray Sullivan.

• Related: Watch: Answering your questions on the pension settlement (Feb. 21)

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53 Responses to “Pension settlement ballots sent; due back by April 3”

  1. Fruma says:

    This is a rigged voting process that does not belong in a democracy. Even dictators require people to respond by casting a ballot (even if at gunpoint) rather than counting them as a yes if they don’t go to the polls. Everyone should be revulsed by this. Where is the outrage?????? The line that this is standard procedure in a class action suit is more garbage. This is a contract dispute and only those voting yes or no should be counted. Non-votes should remain as non-votes.

    1. WAKE UP. says:

      Fruma, There are plenty of people who are outraged. How do you suggest we go about getting our voices heard?

      1. mark says:

        Hire a lawyer.

      2. How stupid says:

        I can’t believe how many dumbbells are really in this state. Calling talk radio looking for answers. It’s a simple solution, any union member can do. Write a letter to the USDOL tell them you have proof of a rigged election and request them to oversee the election.

        Put up or shut up, if you have proof show it, if not shove it.

      3. WAKE UP. says:

        Dear “How Stupid”: You are either naïve or ignorant, or BOTH. Do you think than anyone involved in the corruption of this settlement or voting process is going to ADMIT that the system is rigged? Talk about Stupid. Yes, let’s all write letters and I’m sure the USDOL will get RIGHT ON this situation! They will take care of the corruption lickety-split! It will be investigated in a timely fashion, so that prior to the voting deadline, all will be rectified. Shove it, indeed.

      4. Are you in a coma ? says:

        Union member, obviously your not familiar with the words rank & file . If all theses rank & file members are that sure it’s rigged, contact the USDOL . It case your not familiar with the USDOL they oversee elections all the time, and also call for new elections. Sounds like your a union member who has know clue of how to exercise his/ her rights after your union rejects your request.

      5. WAKE UP. says:

        Dear “Are You In A Coma”: Do yourself a favor. Learn how to write sentences that are grammatically correct that also contain proper spelling. Even if you didn’t pay attention in school, that’s no excuse. Educate yourself. You appear to be a close relation of “How Stupid”.

    2. Sabrina says:

      this is all RIGGED!!!!!!!! so the unions will know who mails back with a NO answer??? this should all go as a major law suit filed against the unions through the ACLU!!! what are they going to do with 23,000 NO’s???

      SEND IT ALL BACK as a collective NOOOO!!!!! time to take over people its getting WAY out of control!!!

  2. Doug in South County says:

    When do the non-union retired teachers get their ballots from ERSRI? Is that a separate mailing? I’d like to know since the snail mail is just that. Is the ballot counted if postemarked by 4/3 but not received until a couple of days later? I think the fix is in on this vote.

    1. WAKE UP. says:

      Doug, I don’t think non-union retirees will get ballots unless they are members in some type of organization. I do not know a lot about it, but I have heard that other people know the answer to your question.

  3. Deanna says:

    When do we receive the ballots? Non-votes should not be counted as a YES. That is absurd. What if someone who is against the pension settlement is in a coma, out of the country, etc. and unable to return their ballot? What if a NO vote gets lost in the mail? This doesn’t seem legal. Does the NLRB support this kind of system?

    1. Are you in a coma ? says:

      If a person is in a coma, out of the country, or unable to return their ballot, it won’t make a difference how/ where the vote takes place. They are just out of luck. Some thing you just can’t make provisions for.

      1. Sticks says:

        Your an IDIOT! OUT OF LUCK? WOW! (LOSER)

  4. George says:

    Hard to see how retiree’s are going to be able to stomach voting yes on this. They didn’t get Jack in the settlement.

  5. Tradita says:

    My “NO” vote was put in the mail this morning.

    1. bill henley says:

      And probably promptly thrown in the trash bin making you a yes vote.

      1. Tradita says:

        That’s a valid concern, considering how rigged this whole fiasco is…

      2. Gary says:

        Don’t question the credibility and honesty of Promail Etc. They are impartial and will do right by every single union voter. No need to start problems where none exist. Smarten the hell up. Fine, you don’t trust the union or the government but don’t put the integrity of a non-profit that helps people into question!

    2. WAKE UP. says:

      Mine was put in the mail last Saturday. The same day I received it.

    3. WAKE UP. says:

      GARY- DO NOT THINK FOR ONE MINUTE THAT NON-PROFIT GROUPS ARE NON PARTSAN. NON-PROFITS RECEIVE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE/ORGANIZATIONS. THEIR BOARD OF DIRECTORS HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT HOW THINGS ARE HANDLED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. WHO’S LOOOKING OUT FOR YOU? NO ONE. EVERY INDIVIDUAL HAS TO LOOK OUT FOR THEMSELVES. MOST PEOPLE ARE GUILTY OF TRUSTING THAT “SOMEONE” (THE GOVERNMENT, HOSPITALS, SCHOOLS, ETC.) IS LOOKING OUT FOR US. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS WAY TO LIVE. IF WE DON’T CARE ENOUGH TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE THINGS THAT MATTER MOST TO US, WE CAN ONLY BLAME OURSELVES WHEN THE BOTTOM FALLS OUT.

      1. Gary says:

        Have you ever dealt with Promail etc.? Have you taken the time to learn about them? I have been dealing with them for the better part of 2 decades and they are an outstanding non-profit with great leadership. Promail has been in existence since the 80′s and have an impeccable reputation. I understand your apprehensions about this vote but Promail will do the best job possible regardless of the job they are asked to do.

      2. WAKE UP. says:

        Sorry Gary. I trust NO ONE at this point. Never in my entire professional career (over three decades) did I ever think we would have to deal with the LUNACY from the Department of Ed. AND get raked over the coals by the very people who we have paid to protect our interests. I am someone who has given 110% to my students and have the scores to prove it. No, I don’t teach in an affluent community. I teach in an urban community. This entire situation is beyond the pale. I would NEVER recommend that anyone become a teacher.

  6. a democratic voter says:

    The AFT-R president should be forbidden to continue his bullying and intimidation toward those who think differently than he does. He should be reprimanded by a judge for his abuse of power. How dare he send this out telling people tha t”those who oppose the viewpoint of the leadership are “NEITHER RATIONAL NOR LEGALLY SOUND?”

    Interesting that this was his view BEFORE the SA was made and approved…when the AFT-RF was one of 6 coalition unions going to court and now all of a sudden, the leadership insults you and says you are not rational?
    Abuse of power
    Who made him the authority as to what is legally sound and can therefore intimidate membership and tell those who agree to throw away their ballot in the wastebasket? You call this professional behavior of a leadership President? I certainly don’t. I call it abuse of power and intimidation.
    Then he continues with this paragraph which again reaffirms intimidation by telling members if they oppose, they are acting contrary to the union. HE is scaring people from their democratic right to dissent!
    Anyone in a position of local or chapter leadership who opines or promotes opposition to the Agreement is acting contrary to its terms and does not represent the position taken by RIPERC or its member organizations. Those who are opposed to the settlement are operating under emotions which are completely justified and understandable. However, they are neither rational nor legally sound.

    This kind of behavior is not only professional but shows a lack of respect for the people who pay his salary through their union dues. It is your Amendment and Constitutional right to disagree and oppose what you feel is not for you and for them to use intimidation to vote their way is not only outrageous but dangerous. Thank you.

    1. Ted Nesi says:

      Can you send me a copy of this letter? tnesi at wpri dot com

    2. WAKE UP. says:

      EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE UNION LEADERS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THIS SHAM SHOULD BE FORCED TO STEP DOWN. WHAT AN OUTRAGE. THEY ARE PAID TO LOOK OUT FOR THE MEMBERSHIPS BEST INTEREST. THE ONLY THING THEY WERE LOOKING FOR WAS/IS THEIR OWN WALLET. MEMBERSHIP MUST DEMAND NEW LEADERSHIP.

  7. John says:

    The process is outrageous. If you want to decide something like this by voting , then everyone affected by it should be entitled to vote on the matter. Making unreturned ballots count as votes in affirmation of the settlement is skewing the results since there may be many legitimate reasons why affected parties may be unable to vote. They may be seriously ill. They may be out of the country. Their mail might not be reliably delivered. Furthermore, if the actions imposed by the 2011 law are actually unconstitutional, then the notion that a popular vote should decide the issue flies in the face of the heart of democracy, i.e., the roles of the three branches of government, the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The judiciary’s role is to decide issues of the constitutionality of laws passed by the legislative branch of government when there is a challenge raised. It is not nor has it ever been a popularity issue. The process of mediating laws is a dangerous precedent that should be avoided at all costs since who is to say when someone’s personal liberties or civil rights are at issue that the majority of any group decides against the minority’s rights or liberties. There are endless examples of totalitarian regimes where such abuses occur. The process of dealing with this mediated settlement needs to be challenged legally.

    1. WAKE UP. says:

      WE NEED A GRASS ROOTS MOVEMENT TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD. TIME IS CRITICAL. SOCIAL MEDIA IS ONE WAY WE CAN GET THE WORD OUT. TELEVISION AND RADIO ARE ANOTHER. THE MEMBERSHIP IS BEING INTIMIDATED BY ITS’ LEADERSHIP.

  8. Beki says:

    The copy of the ballot is a bit inaccurate. Every ballot has a name of it and every ballot is numbered. I wonder who was the master list.

    1. Beki says:

      PS I sent my no vote in today.

  9. AT says:

    How about a vote for all local unions to break away from the AFT/NEA. I Everyone who does not vote is considered a yes vote.

    1. John says:

      That’s a great suggestion. It hits home to the union reps pushing this crap settlement. If the process is so fair they should have no problem allowing their local memberships to automatically disaffiliate from the larger state unions using the same process where any non returned ballots are considered votes to disaffiliate. That question should be put to all the union reps, and their attorneys. I doubt they would be willing to go along with your suggestion.

  10. Tradita says:

    John DePetro is discussing this on the radio today, saying he heard a ballot was mailed to a dead retiree. This obviously will count as a ‘yes’ vote, as this ballot won’t be mailed back. How many ballots were mailed to dead retirees? Talk about a skewed voting system…

    1. B says:

      How many were mailed to those in nursing homes or receiving at home care?
      Caretakers will likely dump the ballot in the trash.
      what about people out of state who are having their mail held?
      All absentees will be counted as Voting Yes under this Machiavellian scheme.

    2. WAKE UP. says:

      We must demand answers from the leadership on these very issues. However, since I believe they will secretly benefit from this settlement (in a VERY BIG WAY) they will do nothing to answer the questions we have. Think about the MILLIONS of dollars we have paid in Union Dues to these people !!! This is outrageous.

    3. The facts says:

      If anyone knows anything about fraud, you can bet its that slime DePetro. Maybe they can count the votes in the love nest in Barrington.

  11. AT says:

    The Rhode Foundation seems to be the largest donor to the Providence Center. This is a conflict of interest because Bill Gates gives millions to The Rhode Island Foundation.

    Non profits are known to policy pushers.

  12. AT says:

    I meant Rhode Island Foundation.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    We have been thrown under the bus. It is not rational to believe that $500.00
    will pay for any cost of living. The only message this sends to future teachers is “don’t teach” because no one really cares whether you live or die even if you give it your all for 35 years. This government took our money, the pension board, former treasurers, and Governors dropped the ball and allowed this fund to be in such a state that Raimondo found the perfect platform for her unfair campaign. Many people, if they can, are leaving RI. Why spend this money in a State that has abused us?

  14. linnylu says:

    People need to be prepared to speak before the judge at the fairness hearing if this proposal makes it through the first voting round which is likely considering how it has been orchestrated. Judge Taft-Carter needs to know how many people voted No and don’t feel like they have been part of a fair process.
    The voting process is flawed. We need a few people who were vacationing with mail being held until their return to tell the judge they not only didn’t get to vote NO, but had their vote counted as a YES.
    In the first round, it is less likely that a ballot will go to a dead person or someone in a nursing home unless they paid into the Defense Fund. It is possible though, and it should be mentioned to Judge Taft-Carter.
    People should also be concerned that the person heading RIPERC telling people to tear up the ballots and throw them away is also a member of the Retirement Board. Is he not also a defendant in the law suits filed by the coalition?

  15. Bob says:

    can’t retire in your 40′s anymore? I’m all broken up!

    1. WAKE UP. says:

      Bob, You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. Even prior to the various changes made to the pension took place, an educator would have to teach thirty-five years in order to get 80% of their income (before taxes). So, if someone graduated at the age of 22 and taught for 35 years, that would make them 57. Even then, many teachers still could not afford to retire. Perhaps you are thinking of police and firefighters. They have always enjoyed MUCH BETTER PAY and BENEFITS than teachers do. They make quite a great deal in overtime. They are not required to earn a masters degree, they have A LOT of down time on the job. Teachers, on the other hand, do not get one cent of overtime but do have tons of homework. I could go on and on, but I have a feeling you are not interested in the facts.

  16. AT says:

    Does anyone remember when crossroads and Family Service of Rhode Island supported EngageRI? Can we trust the Providence Center?

  17. Sticks says:

    It was wrong from the getgo! There are many many was to help the state of RI without destroying what we were promised. MY VOTE “NO” (oh, and remember, the state is usimg pension money to fight this)

  18. [...] email was sent soon after 24,297 ballots were mailed to union members and retirees to weigh in on the settlement, and just before The Providence Journal revealed at least one was [...]

  19. Sticks says:

    And what about our union leaders that have not updated thier mailing list. Sending out ballots to deceased members who are now sending a “YES VOTE” IS THIS FAIR/ Not at all. My info in my local is a no vote.

  20. Sticks says:

    Heres another tid bit, If it passes, 20 yrs or more of service u revert back to the old pension and the moneies u have in your TIAA-CREFF stays put. Cannot touch it till u retire. In the mean time it’s costing you $40.00 a yr. Won’t be anything left i say.

    1. WAKE UP. says:

      You would not HAVE TO go back to the old system, however, if you choose to, you will have to contribute a higher percentage towards your pension than those who just have TIAA CREF. That certainly sounds like a great deal doesn’t it? It’s sickening. What great mediators our leaders are.

  21. WAKE UP. says:

    Could someone who knows the facts PLEASE CLARIFY whether or not retired teachers will receive ballots????

    1. B says:

      Only retired teachers who are dues-paying members of a union, such as the AFTR, will receive ballots in the first round of so-called voting.

  22. Allison says:

    If you aare going for finest contents like myself, simply pay a visit this web siute everyday since it provides quality contents, thanks

  23. B says:

    My question is: Isn’t there anyone at URI with the capacity to count these ballots in a secure manner?
    Sorry but there is nothing on the ProMail website that indicates any expertise in ballot counting…!

  24. Tom says:

    My wife is a retired teacher and I am a retired state employee. We won’t be returning to RI until April 1. Can anyone tell me if we vote on April 2 will the postmark date be acceptable. We both plan on voting no. Thank you.

  25. Tradita says:

    If I remember correctly, an email was sent to us saying ballots had to be RECEIVED by April 3.