State ordered into mediation over pension reform lawsuit

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered the two sides in Rhode Island's pension case to try to settle their differences through mediation. A series of unions are challenging last year's landmark overhaul of the pension system. Five public sector unions are suing the state, arguing that it went too far in cutting retirement benefits.

Judge Sarah Taft-Carter instructed lawyers for the state and public-sector unions to seek a possible settlement. Talks between the two sides will be facilitated by the mediators from the federal government. Teachers' union head Robert Walsh praised the move by Taft-Carter.

"We're very pleased that the judge has ordered both sides into mediation. We have always felt that this would be best resolved by sitting down across the table from each other and negotiating out our differences."

Governor Lincoln Chafee recently expressed support for trying to settle the lawsuit brought by unions against the pension overhaul. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo has said the pension case should be decided in court. A conference on the status of the mediation is slated for February.

Both State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Goveronr Lincoln Chafee say the state has a strong case in defending last year's landmark overhaul of the pension system.

Raimondo helped spearhead the changes she says were made to save the state-administered retirement system for public employees.

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