Skip to content

Labor to accelerate pension lobbying

November 1, 2011

Organized labor is getting ready to announce plans for a big rally for Nov. 8 at the State House to get its message across on pension overhaul. Labor sources say the crowd will be much larger than the 350 or so the business-financed EngageRI group drew to the capitol last week to push for approval of the proposal laid out by state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Both private sector and public sector union members will attend the rally. While labor leaders and union members realize that the pension problem is real, they are concerned that business and some Rhode Island politicians want the whole unfunded liability mess solved on the backs of the workers.

While the hearings continue this week, quiet negotiations among legislative leaders and union leaders have been ongoing. Among the elements that would make the pension overhaul package more palatable to workers: Stretching out the refinancing or reamortization schedule from 35 to 30 years and more gradually phasing in the 67 age to collect a full pension over a longer number of years, so that older workers would not be penalized. Also, State House sources say, there will be a move to protect in some manner the cost-of-living adjustments for lower salaried workers. While House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence has played the pension change proposal very close to the vest, his Senate counterpart, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed , D-Newport, has let it be known behind the scenes that she is concerned about the impact of abrupt changes on older and lower-paid state employees.

 

8 Comments leave one →
  1. tim1999 permalink
    November 2, 2011 2:46 am

    (yawning) …that’s nice.

  2. Mister Guy permalink
    November 2, 2011 5:24 am

    “more gradually phasing in the 67 age to collect a full pension over a longer number of years, so that older workers would not be penalized. Also, State House sources say, there will be a move to protect in some manner the cost-of-living adjustments for lower salaried workers. While House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence has played the pension change proposal very close to the vest, his Senate counterpart, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed , D-Newport, has let it be known behind the scenes that she is concerned about the impact of abrupt changes on older and lower-paid state employees.”

    I saw some recent testimony from a local teacher that had expected to be able to retire sometime over the next year or two (which was later than she would have been able to retire under the old retirement rules that were changed just a few short years ago) but was now likely going to be asked to work another decade or so in order to retire if the current Raimondo plan was approved. Even the national GOP realized in their ridiculous Ryan Plan that asking current or soon-to-be retirees to operate in a system that was changed at the last minute wasn’t a fair thing to do.

    The Raimondo plan claims to take the Social Security (SS) system as a model for “reform”, but the majority of SS recipients start getting SS payments early (sometime after they turn age 62)…before their full SS retirement age. If they want to eventually make the full retirement age 67 gradually over time for younger workers then fine, but at least allow near-term or future retirees the option of retiring early (sometime between age 62 & 67) with a penalty in reduced benefits. That’s what both SS & the federal retirement system, the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), do right now.

    Even though the vast majority of projected savings (some 85-89%) in the Raimondo plan don’t come from messing around with the COLAs at all, that part of the “reform” plan will likely never see the light of day politically. If the unions & the RI legislature are smart, they’ll come up with a compromise proposal on the COLA issue that may eliminate COLAs for less than a handful of years and/or recalculate how the COLA is calculated in the future. Since in 11 out of the last 16 years the RI pension fund has earned returns of greater than 9% annually (ranging from 9.1-19.1% per year), changing the COLA so that it was tied to those yearly returns (and not a 5 or 10-year average return) would make much more sense. Capping the future COLAs like they are now at no more than around 3% (instead of the proposed 4% that future retirees will likely never see anyway) & only giving out COLAs when the RI retirement fund earned a yearly rate of return of above around 5.5% would be a fair compromise to the drastic & unneeded changes in COLAs that are currently in the Raimondo plan.

  3. Candace McCall permalink
    November 2, 2011 2:49 pm

    Just modifying the downward proportionality chart, already in use since 2009, to extend to age 67 would solve the problem. It creates and individual date for each worker based on age and years of service already earned when/if the new bill becomes law. This way older workers and those with many years of service are not inordinately affected.

    • Mike permalink
      November 4, 2011 7:10 am

      How the hell do you know this Candace? Are you smarter than the teams of actuaries and our Treasurer who graduated Harvard, Yale and is a Rhodes Scholar… how dare you make this ridiculous claim…

      • Mike permalink
        November 4, 2011 7:14 am

        Oh I get it now, Ms. Candace… you are a fan of Bernie Sanders and Occupy Wall Street. You are a socialist apparently. No doubt you are a teacher… game over… there’s no more money… your unions have destroyed RI… by the way, I guess it really never was “all about the chldren” now was it… it’s all about the bloated pensions, benefits and what’s in it for me and my pals. I remember when teaching used to be a vocation. You are supporting Occupy Wall St… when you should be cheering Wall St. to flourish and GROW your pension…

      • Mister Guy permalink
        November 5, 2011 1:34 am

        “Are you smarter than the teams of actuaries and our Treasurer who graduated Harvard, Yale and is a Rhodes Scholar”

        Putting aside Ms. McCall’s original claim, let’s examine this silly statement above. If you look at the last several yearly RI pension fund reports, those “teams of actuaries” can’t even decide what the fund’s actual rate of return has been in the distant past, since a lot of those numbers (from many years ago) change from report to report.

        As for being a “Rhodes Scholar” & going to Yale, so did Bill Clinton. GWB went to both Harvard & Yale, and we all know that he’s basically a moron. Also, Al Gore, Barack Obama & the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski went to Harvard. So, as one can easily see, graduating from Harvard & Yale and being a “Rhodes Scholar” can yield varying results.

        Raimondo’s “reform” plan has exactly zero chance of being passed as is, whether she or you realize it.

  4. Mike permalink
    November 4, 2011 7:08 am

    Pass the bill as is…. there’s an epic systemic failure here… fiddling with the plan is foolhardy….game over…. unions… quit destroying the state… next up: right to work state must happen=jobs… everyone’s leaving RI… what part of this don’t you get?

    • Mister Guy permalink
      November 5, 2011 1:47 am

      “No doubt you are a teacher… game over… there’s no more money”

      Actually, there’s plenty of money in the RI retirement system right now to pay out full benefits through at least 2019-2023.

      “I remember when teaching used to be a vocation”

      …and it still is…one that I myself would never want to even attempt to do because of how difficult it is to do well in practice.

      “when you should be cheering Wall St. to flourish and GROW your pension”

      …by causing literally the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression by selling worthless mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps (CDSs) & collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and conducting predatory lending practices?? I don’t think so…get a clue my sad friend…

      “fiddling with the plan is foolhardy”

      No, having the Legislative Branch thoughtfully change a plan that was submitted by the Executive Branch is simply how our system of government has worked for literally 235 years now. Get a clue man!

      “next up: right to work state must happen=jobs”

      LOL…you do realize that workers in so-called “right-to-work states” consistently earn less money & receive worse benefits than states where unions are allowed, don’t you?? I didn’t think so…ugh…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: