In a move that could send the battle over Rhode Island's 2011 pension overhaul back to court, one of the six plaintiff groups that had to initially sign off on a proposed settlement has voted against the deal.
As a result, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter has ordered the two sides in the dispute -- the state and a series of public-employee unions -- back to mediation. Taft-Carter is slated to get an update on the talks next Monday, April 14.
The two sides discussing a possible settlement over the 2011 overhaul of Rhode Island’s state pension system will have a few more weeks to talk.
The two sides met Thursday afternoon with Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter. In the latest in a series of continuances, she scheduled another update on ongoing mediation in the case for September 30.
Taft-Carter ordered mediation last December after a series of public-employee unions filed a suit over the pension overhaul. The unions say the overhaul went too far in cutting benefits and violated their constitutional rights.
Mediation is set to continue over the challenge by a series of public-employee unions to an overhaul of the state pension system in 2011.
The outcome of the case has big implications for the state.The two sides in the pension case have repeatedly asked for more time to mediate their differences. Following another such request, the next update is slated before Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on September 5th. Taft-Carter was the one who ordered mediation in the case last December.
In what Providence Mayor Angel Taveras calls a historic day, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter gave final approval Friday for a deal that will reduce the capital city's $900 million+ unfunded pension liability by $178 million. The agreement followed negotiations between the city and police and fire unions and municipal retirees.
"Today is the end of a long, long road that we've traveled," Taveras said in an interview. "I feel a lot of relief and gratitude to all the employees and retirees especially who have agreed to help the city."
The mediation aimed at settling a legal challenge by a series of unions to the state pension overhaul of 2011 is set to continue through the month of February.
Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter met Friday morning with the two sides in the case, according to court spokesman Craig Berke. "They are going to continue to mediate," Berke said, adding that Taft-Carter is scheduled to get another update on February 28.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' latest State of the City speech celebrates the value of overcoming complex problems through collaboration -- a not-so-subtle contrast with the state pension overhaul championed in 2011 by the mayor's prospective Democratic gubernatorial rival in 2014, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo.
In comments Tuesday evening to the City Council, Taveras notes the contrast to February 2012 when "Providence was running out of cash, and running out of time. In the months that followed, there were some who said Providence could not avoid filing for bankruptcy."
Peter J. Hurtgen, who led the FMCS from 2002 through 2004, says a subset of the eight parties in mediation could potentially reach some areas of agreement among themselves. But he says the complexity of the case makes it unusually fraught for mediation: