July 31, 2008

In the Vacuum Left by Council 94's Vote, Gov Issues Executive Order

Monique Chartier

Following upon Governor Carcieri's press conference at 2:00, his office issued the following statement.

Governor Donald L. Carcieri today issued an Executive Order authorizing that all employees represented by unions that have not ratified the co-share and plan design changes outlined in the Memorandum of Settlement shall enjoy the same health, vision, and dental plan benefits, as non-union Executive branch employees and as employees whose unions have negotiated and ratified agreements containing these cost-savings and will be contributing accordingly

"I have a constitutional and statutory obligation to balance the budget," said Governor Carcieri. "If I don't take this action, I will be neglecting my primary duty to balance the budget on behalf of all our citizens."

"My administration spent six months and hundreds of hours negotiating the terms of this agreement with representatives of Council 94. Those representatives agreed to the terms that were finally negotiated. There were numerous concessions from the state, including not going forward with the layoff of hundreds of employees and guaranteed wage increases of 8.5% over the four year contract."

"It was my hope that Council 94 and the other unions would have recognized the severity of the State's fiscal crisis and seized the opportunity to be part of the solution, as have more than two-thirds of the other unions who participated in the collective negotiations. Instead, the action by these unions to reject the agreement has only weakened the State's fiscal situation, requiring this unilateral action to balance the budget."

By the authority of the Executive Order, the Governor directed that all eligible employees shall contribute toward the cost of health care coverage based on a percentage of premiums for either the individual or family plan as set forth below for medical insurance, dental benefits and/or vision/optical benefits. Said co-share percentages shall apply based on the employee's annualized total rate and shall be via payroll deductions. The Executive Order also authorized employee co-shares for dental coverage and employee co-pays for medical services and pharmaceuticals.

"The implementation of the plan design changes and the co-pays will allow the State to realize some of the budget savings expected by the ratification of the settlement, and will help prevent, for the time being, more aggressive personnel actions including layoffs and shut down days."

"This action is unprecedented in Rhode Island," continued Carcieri. "But, these are unprecedented times that require decisive action that is in the best interest of all Rhode Islanders. I would like to personally thank the union leaders and members who voted in favor of the new contract. I would also like to thank the General Officers - the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and General Treasurer - for their commitment to implementing the salary and benefits changes in concert with this Executive Order. Your leadership and willingness to work together is commendable."

Simultaneously, the Governor directed the Administration to notify the specific unions that have not agreed to the settlement of the intention to move swiftly to conciliation and arbitration in an attempt to finalize a new contract if possible. "I want to make this very clear. We have no intention of offering more than what was already negotiated and agreed to. That was our best and final offer."


At Not For Nothing, Ian Donnis has Council 94's response.

North Providence - Today, Rhode Island Council 94, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO voiced their strong opposition to Governor Carcieri's attempts to unilaterally impose his health care insurance premium co-share proposal upon members who democratically voted to reject the proposed contract settlement.

Dennis R. Grilli, Executive Director, explained, "Today Governor Carcieri has made a difficult situation worse. By attempting to unilaterally impose increased health care premium co-shares upon our members' and their families the Governor has chosen a path that will increase the level of tension and acrimony between state employees and this administration. While we want to have a contract that is fair to Rhode Island taxpayers and some of the lowest paid state employees, Council 94 will not be bullied, coerced, or intimidated. Further Council 94 is fully prepared to fight and respond to the Carcieri administration's actions swiftly and with all of the resources at our disposal."

Executive Director Grilli, continued, "In June 2008, Governor Carcieri refused to accept a proposed settlement that would have saved the state over $40 million dollars. When Governor Carcieri refused to accept the proposed settlement, Council 94 acted appropriately. We exercised restraint. The Governor should now exercise the same restraint. Now that our members have taken a democratic vote to reject a proposed settlement, he has decided to resort to scare tactics. Council 94 is not afraid. Unfortunately, the path that the Governor has chosen will cost Rhode Islanders more money in the long run. We sincerely hope that the administration will negotiate in good faith, instead of this reckless and irresponsible course of action."


WPRO just reported that Council 94's Executive Director Dennis Grilli has announced that the union will be seeking a restraining order on Monday [correction] today to stop implementation of the Governor's Executive Order.

UPDATE III - Hold it

The Governor's office just issued this statement.

At the request of the Honorable Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Hurst, Governor Donald L. Carcieri today agreed to defer the implementation of the Executive Order (08-06) to provide Judge Hurst with adequate time to review this important and comprehensive issue.

Council 94 was instructed to file its briefs with the Superior Court on Monday, August 4, 2008, with a conference scheduled for both parties at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 6, 2008.

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Woo. Listening to the union members whining on talk radio. They simply don't get reality. Yea, your friends in private industry might be making more money than you but they aren't going to get lifetime pension and health care on the back of the taxpayers either. And they can be fired tomorrow.

Posted by: Greg at July 31, 2008 3:47 PM

Kudos to the Governor. Although I wouldn't have minded some PATCO-style action, this is still pretty good. Very outside the box, creative thinking. I like that.

PS If the restraining order which I presume the union will seek is granted (which I don't believe will be, because it does not cause "irreparable harm"), it certainly would clear the way to immediately go ahead with the original layoff and furlough plan (insert cackle here). :)

Posted by: Will at July 31, 2008 4:47 PM

I'm giving the Governor credit here for having some major guts. I have to say, I don't think I've ever supported the Governor more than with this move.

It's been six years in the making and finally the Governor takes a real stand.

I don't Will, I think he might lose, but the point has been made that the well has run dry and we need to face the financial music.

All of us.

Posted by: donroach at July 31, 2008 5:47 PM

Kudos to the Man! He is doing what needs to be done and I for one stand with him no matter what happens.
Go get em Gov!

Posted by: Michael at July 31, 2008 6:22 PM

Between the executive order re: employing illegal aliens, and this order today, we should start calling him "Don 'Cajones' Carcieri"!

God Bless Him!

"Don Cajones Carcieri - doing the jobs that Democrats won't do!"

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at July 31, 2008 6:28 PM

If the hacks with robes, aka judges stop this he better start laying off some more.

Posted by: Mike at July 31, 2008 7:07 PM

So much for "It'll all be cleared up on Friday."

Posted by: EMT at July 31, 2008 7:07 PM

Don is The Man!

I knew he had it in him. Rhode Island is lucky to have such a fine man as Governor.

One good public official is not enough to make me want to live there though.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at July 31, 2008 7:52 PM

You gotta love those morons in the Union ...they make reference to a proposal that members "democratically voted to reject".

How about giving the Taxpayers a vote in these nut-bag contracts that have put us on the cusp of bankruptcy?

The Union hacks are ENTITLED to a democratic vote on the contract, but the Taxpayers footing the bill get no vote.

More double-standard, Entitlement-minded BS from public-tit sucking leeches.

By the way, we just had a big down pour. Any truth to the rumor that it was actually tear-drops from a bunch on Council 94 whiners??

Posted by: George Elbow at July 31, 2008 8:08 PM

Can someone at AR please let Billy-bibbit back on line.

I'm dying to hear his explanation as to what went wrong. Remember, he was in the room during the "phone call" in which it was learned that Gov. Cave-In was going to roll over.

Please, oh please, free Billy-bibbit.

Posted by: George Elbow at July 31, 2008 8:13 PM


"I don't Will, I think he might lose, but the point has been made that the well has run dry and we need to face the financial music."

Given the political nature of our judiciary, I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if he lost, too. However, it wouldn't be based on the merits.

Let's just put it this way: the unions better hope he doesn't lose. They are not surprised in the least that the unions would try to stop his actions in court.

PS There are contingency plans. :)

Posted by: Will at July 31, 2008 10:28 PM

Relax. The Supremes will uphold Don. Not exactly a hotbed of union support, you know.

Posted by: rhody at August 1, 2008 12:26 AM

I hope they overturn Don's executive order.

Do you really think he announced this on a Thursday by coincidence? He knows Grilli is going to court this morning. And he knows he might lose there. And he knows he can simply call another press conference and lay off 4,100 employees before EOB today.

Posted by: Greg at August 1, 2008 8:03 AM

Without a contract in place, I think Carcieri will be upheld. Howwever, regardless of the court's eventual decision, Carcieri has done the right thing by testing it out. If the judiciary decides to let the inmates run the asylum, so be it.

I do agree with Greg, though. Carcieri has made strong efforts to avoid laying state workers off. While I wouldn't ever rejoice in someone losing their job, there might not be another option.

Let's not forget, the Governor has a legal duty to balance the budget and he may not have a choice.

Posted by: Anthony at August 1, 2008 9:12 AM
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