RI Supreme Court rejects Providence Teachers Union on retiree health care premiums

Jun 19, 2013

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the union representing Providence teachers to control  health insurance premiums paid by retired city teachers.

In an opinion authored by Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg, the court upheld a Superior Court decision that ruled that the union’s contract with the Providence School Board allowed the board to charge retired teachers more for health care premiums than active teachers.

Retired teachers use health care more than active teachers, so they ought to contribute more, the school board contended. The union countered that it had the right to bargain for both active and retired teachers. But the high court ruled that the union could only represent active teachers.

The school board had imposed a larger increase in premiums on retired teachers after a 2006 study by city underwriters separated the retirees and active teachers into two for purposes of calculating insurance rates. The study showed that the premium costs for active teachers should go up by 10 percent while the retirees should pay a 55 percent increase.

In the decision, the Supreme Court threw out an arbitration award that favored the union position.