Were Council 94’s “Non-Negotiations” Part of a Larger Plan?
Let’s examine Council 94’s urgent insistance that the thirty meetings with Governor Carcieri do not constitute negotiations in the light of the status of those
negotiations informal discussions at meeting ninteen. On May 23, Governor Carieri appeared on WPRO’s Dan Yorke Show:
They have not put a single thing … after 19 meetings, hours, hundreds of hours in, they haven’t put a single thing on the table. We laid out for them a proposal. They’ve sat with my team, the house finance team, the senate finance team, ’cause I don’ think they believed what we’ve beeen saying in terms of the magnitude of the problem. And they got it from all three parties. And so if they’re not willing to sit down and make the kinds of concessions that we need to get in the 09 budget, then we’re going to have to come up with them other ways.
So now it is clear that, on the part of Council 94’s leadership, those thirty
negotiating discussion sessions were simply a passive-aggressive act. Why? Did they realize from the beginning that because of the serious budget deficit and the economic condition of the state – subsequently confirmed by the Governor’s office and the legislature – they were not going to be able to bring back an “acceptable” offer; i.e., terms that were substantially better than the expired contract? So rather than bringing their membership up to speed and explaining that the facts on the ground made it likely that the administration’s final proposal would be a highest and best offer (not to mention the charmingly archaic nature of an 8% premium co-share), was this a deliberate decision by Council 94 leadership to drag out the entire process?
“We sat there like bumps on a log so those thirty meetings were not negotiations. First we file a complaint with the labor board. Then we go to negotiations. When negotiations are over and we don’t get what we want, we go to mediation. Then we go to arbitration. It’s okay that it’s non-binding; the point is to drag this out. If we still haven’t gotten what we want, we start on the court system. At some point (fingers crossed), either we’ll wear the administration down or obtain a favorable ruling from an ally along the way.”
Council 94’s redefinition of thirty meetings as “not negotiations, definitely not negotiations”, while absurd on its face, may be the first step of a larger plan. If so, it is a plan with two potentially fatal weaknesses, requiring as it does both time and a passive Executive branch. A constitutional requirement to annually balance the budget places the former in scarce supply. The latter has yet to be determined but initial indications are not promising.