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Raimondo to Cranston firefighters: I respect union contracts

December 10th, 2012 at 6:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

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)


Firefighters organizing pension protest at Raimondo fundraiser

December 10th, 2012 at 10:31 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

• Update: Raimondo says she respects union pacts

Treasurer Gina Raimondo will have some uninvited guests at her fundraiser in Providence tonight.

Paul Valletta, president of the Cranston firefighters union, confirmed to WPRI 12′s Tim White that his members will be picketing outside a campaign fundraiser Raimondo is holding Monday night at Rick’s Roadhouse to coincide with the Patriots’ appearance on Monday Night Football.

“It’s just our way to say that we haven’t forgotten what the general treasurer did to many state workers, police officers, teachers and firefighters,” Valletta told White on Monday. “It hasn’t been forgotten that people’s lives have been changed negatively when they didn’t have to be.”

Valletta famously argued during last fall’s debate over the new pension law that Raimondo had “cooked the books” by getting the Retirement Board to change investment and actuarial forecasts in ways that worsened the pension fund’s finances. Raimondo said the new numbers were more accurate.

The R.I. State Association of Fire Fighters has asked all off-duty members to join the protest, writing in an email that it’s “very likely that she will be making a run for the governor’s seat next election.” Valletta said some police officers may show up, as well, but they don’t want to cause “a mess on the street.”

“One of the issues we are focusing on is the age issue: with the change to the pension you are going to have firefighters stay into their 60s and 70s to get a full pension,” he said.

Echoing an argument gaining steam of late, Valletta said Raimondo should have negotiated changes to the pension system at the bargaining table with organized labor rather than having state lawmakers approve the changes unilaterally.

​(photo: ProvidencesRestaurant.com)


Flanders aims to slash Central Falls police, fire budget by 40%

August 2nd, 2011 at 10:36 am by under Nesi's Notes

Central Falls’ state-appointed receiver is proposing a 40% reduction in the city’s police and fire budget as part of its Chapter 9 filing, according to court documents filed Monday.

Receiver Robert Flanders asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Bailey to void the city’s contracts with its police, fire and municipal unions. To support the proposal, he presented two city budgets for 2011-12 – its current unbalanced one, and a proposed balanced one that could be put in place if the contracts are thrown out.

The balanced budget would reduce Central Falls’ municipal spending this fiscal year by 26%, from $22 million to $16.3 million, to match its revenue. The bulk of those savings would come by reducing the police and fire departments’ budgets from a combined $10.6 million to $6.4 million.

“Many of the changes producing significant savings … are changes in the active labor force either by reduction, consolidation or shared services which would be prohibited under the terms of the CBAs,” or collective bargaining agreements, Theodore Orson, the city’s bankruptcy attorney, wrote in the filing.

Orson went on to say the city will treat the union contracts as null and void effective immediately, and warned of dire consequences if the judge reinstates them rather than siding with Flanders.

“Unless the CBAs are rejected, the city will be ‘upside-down’ financially and will be unable to pay its debts as they become due,” he wrote. “Without rejection, the city will default on its pension obligations and other obligations. It might even default on its bond obligations which would have enormous policy implications beyond Central Falls.”

The unions’ attorneys filed notice with the court on Monday. Carly Beauvais Iafrate of Providence will represent the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 2, and Elizabeth Wiens of Gursky Law Associates in North Kingstown will represent the Central Falls Fire Fighters Union, IAFF Local 1485.

A hearing on the city’s bankruptcy case is scheduled for Wednesday morning at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Providence.

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