Give the Unions More Control
Some of the union heads are claiming that this pension crisis was fabricated by State Treasurer Gina Raimondo. She is trying to solve a problem that she created. People like Paul Valletta, representing the Rhode Island Association of Firefighters. His claim:
[Raimondo] cooked the books on this issue… She created this pension problem … now she’s riding in on her white horse … to solve this problem
Other unions are also making claims that the pension problem is not nearly as bad as Raimondo and Chafee make it out to be, in spite of extensive hearings, research and convening a panel that included union management.
When people disagree so vehemently with a given solution, even to the point of accusing one of lying, my response is often to ask what their solution is. What I would like to see happen is people like Valletta put their own reputation on the line in this solution.
How about this, we separate out the firefighters’ portion of the pension system and put that separate. We make no changes. We continue forward with the status quo and send periodic updates to the members of the firefighters’ union. In each of those updates, we make sure it is known to each of the members that the steps being followed are those that were advocated by Paul Valletta. So when the pension system does go belly-up and those checks start bouncing, don’t call the Treasurer, don’t call the Governor, don’t even call a lawyer. Call Paul Valletta.
Or, why not let the union take over their portion pension system? Here’s one thing I’ve never understood. Treat the union like a sub-contractor. The state simply hires the union like they hire any other contractor. The state pays a set amount to the contractor and the contractor pays its members how it sees fit. Let the union determine salaries, steps, raises, health care plans and retirement packages. They’re claiming now that the Treasurer is being disingenuous, so let’s see how they do with it. Maybe they can manage it all better. I wonder if the unions are willing to make this agreement and really take over every aspect of the employment. Unions supply staff, the state supplies one monthly payment to the union. Very clean, very orderly, many fewer details would need to be negotiated.