Did the Governor Just Set a Time Bomb?
Just out from the governor’s office:
Today, Governor Donald L. Carcieri and several state employee labor unions, including the RI Alliance of Social Service Employees (Local 580), RI Laborers’ District Council Locals 808 and 1033 (LIUNA), the RI Parole and Probation Associates (RIPPA), and the RI Employment Security Alliance (Local 401 SEIU), announced that a tentative agreement has been reached.
Under this tentative agreement, the respective labor unions have agreed to eight one-day pay reductions in FY 2010. In return, employees will earn 10 leave days, four of which can be cashed out at retirement or voluntary termination from state employment.
In FY2011, the unions have tentatively agreed to delay the implementation of the three percent COLA for six months to January 2, 2011, as well as four one-day pay reductions, in exchange for five leave days, four of which may be cashed out at retirement or voluntary termination from state employment.
The tentative agreements have been approved by the leadership of the respective unions, but must still be ratified by the members. These union leaders are recommending ratification of the agreement by the unions’ members. The State is reaching out to the remainder of the State employee labor unions to offer the same agreement.
“The agreement by these labor unions demonstrates that they recognize the seriousness of our state’s fiscal crisis, and they are willing to address the issues we are faced with today,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “I commend them for their leadership and cooperation in helping the state through this difficult time.”
“For the remaining state employee unions, I extend an offer to participate in this agreement, and receive the same benefits, including deferred compensation, additional leave time, and job security, as those unions who have already agreed,” continued Carcieri. “We have no objection to Council 94, or any other union, sending this agreement to its full membership for consideration. For those unions who reject the offer, we will continue with our layoff plans. To continue to ignore the fiscal crisis of our state and refuse to be part of the solution is short sighted, and only hurts hard working rank and file state employees.”
“The most equitable method is for all state employees to participate in a plan of pay reduction days. Ratification of this agreement will keep people working, eliminate additional layoffs through FY 2011, and keep government services operating without interruption,” continued Carcieri. “While as a state and a nation we don’t know when our economy will recover and we don’t know when our revenues will improve, this agreement will help us to manage through this difficult time without raising broad-based taxes.”
“Both sides worked diligently, honestly, and cooperatively to come to terms on an agreement that responds to the State’s fiscal problems and provides a mechanism to respond to budgetary needs while managing our existing workforce in a way that delivers services more efficiently while protecting the jobs of our employees,” said Gary Sasse, Director of Administration.
Phil Keefe, president of the Rhode Island Alliance of Social Service Employees (RIASSE Local 580) stated, “We believe this agreement is good for our members because it will provide job security.”
“This memorandum of agreement has resulted from intensive negotiations over the past several weeks in which all parties have dealt fairly and responsibly with the pressing issues of existing collective bargaining obligations, job security and fiscal reality. The outcome not only validates the process of collective bargaining, but also demonstrates that by working together, the State and its employees are capable of addressing and mutually resolving issues with which the problematic economic situation has presented them,” said representatives of Local Unions 808 and 1033 of the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council.
Perhaps I’m missing something, but it looks to me like the governor essentially relied on a line of credit that the unions are extending to the state: Savings now for future paid days off and retirement/layoff/quit bonuses. Plus, it looks like the no-layoffs-through-2011 promise holds.