Lawyers On Either Side Of The Pension Debate Meet With Judge To Discuss Mediation

Dec 10, 2013

Attorneys for the state and public employee unions met privately with a judge in Warwick Monday over the state’s pension overhaul.  Unions representing state workers are suing the state over changes made to the pension law two years ago. They say the changes are overreaching and unconstitutional.

Unions are suing the state of Rhode Island over changes made to pensions two years ago.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The opposing lawyers met for five minutes behind closed doors with Judge Sarah Taft Carter.  The purpose was to update her on mediation talks aimed at resolving the pension overhaul lawsuit.  The attorneys, who are under a gag order, left without answering reporter questions.  State Senator Dawson Hodgson was present in court and left frustrated over the secrecy shrouding the talks.

"You couldn’t have a bigger contrast between the open and public process that pension reform was created in versus the mediation process which is really another way of describing closed door negotiations between the interested parties, excluding the very people who have the ability to make changes. That’s the legislature," said Hodgson.

State public employee unions are trying to overturn pension changes that shaved billions of dollars in liability off Rhode Island’s long term pension obligations. The unions claim the state breached an implied contract when it raised the retirement age, suspended annual cost of living increases and changed the pension plan to a hybrid that includes a 401K.

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