Bob Walsh: the unions are going to win the pension lawsuit

Jul 20, 2012

Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, has never been shy with his opinions. And he’s confident that unions will succeed in legally overturning the state’s much-ballyhooed pension overhaul of 2011.

“”The fact that they can be more reasonable, and the fact they know they could be more reasonable is why we’re actually going to win in court,” Walsh says in an interview that will air Monday during RIPR’s Morning Edition.

The lawsuit by a series of unions is pending before Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter. The two opposing sides will head into the discovery phase; observers expect a decision in case before the start of the state’s next fiscal year on July 1, 2013. 

Walsh predicts a court victory will send the pension issue “back to the drawing board,” and he points to the union agreeements negotiated by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as a better way of doing things.

“And that is where this will end up. They [the state] could save everyone a lot of time, money and aggravation by reaching out to us now, but it looks like we’re going to have to prove what we’ve been telling them all along: that the changes they made were illegal.

And then we’ll go after the judge decides that, and probably after they appeal; we’ll end up back in the legislature and try to work this out.”

Walsh rejects suggestions the state and its taxpayers can’t afford to lose the pension lawsuit. He says the cost of the pension system should have been anticipated by public officials who instead put off dealing with it.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo shares her thoughts on the lawsuit in an interview set to air Tuesday on RIPR.