September 3, 2009

Union Bosses Win: 1,000 Brothers and Sisters to be Laid Off

Marc Comtois

After a long day, the state employee union leaders got their wish when Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg overturned Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein's decision and granted a stay of the implementation of Governor Carcieri's plan to have 12 shut-down days in an attempt to save money. The result: 1,000 state workers will now be laid off. In a statement (h/t Cynthia Needham at 7to7), the Governor wrote:

"It should greatly disturb every state employee and every Rhode Islander that labor leaders are willing to sacrifice people's jobs so they can maintain their stranglehold on the citizens of this state....This decision by Justice McKenna Goldberg may just be the straw that broke the camel's back, sending this state down the path to financial ruin, as it gives greater weight to union and special interest demands rather than the fiscal reality of the state and the employment of state workers. Preventing the state from moving forward with the shutdown days cripples our ability to address growing budget gaps, and stops the executive branch from fulfilling its constitutional duty to balance the state's budget."
Is it any wonder why labor unions are increasingly unpopular?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

One question of many, now staring Rhode Island in the face: How far will courts be allowed to go, in asserting that they can order other branches of government to ignore Rhode Island's dire fiscal imbalance?

Originally stated in a top-level post that linked to the same source linked to in the post above, but since Marc's post is better, I'll remove what is essentially a duplicate post, and add my commentary as a comment to his.

Posted by: Andrew at September 3, 2009 7:44 PM

...though I'll make one other note. Has the Governor decided on the number of 1,000 to be laid off, if he goes this route, or is he saying up to 1,000 people could be laid off?

Posted by: Andrew at September 3, 2009 7:56 PM

The state is more than broke. Accordingly, what perplexes me about such decisions is, where do they expect the money to come from to enact such rulings?

Posted by: Monique at September 3, 2009 8:02 PM

Maybe the Governor will lay off more of those pesky employees who work in the Unemployment Office. My employer abolished my job the beginning of July and I still have not been notified if I QUALIFY for unemployment benefits. Maybe "The Don" will lay himself off.

Posted by: Bobby at September 3, 2009 8:02 PM

Where will the money come from?

Don't you know, silly girl? The money will come from all those "rich" under-taxed people in the Private sector, particularly all those Unemployed folk that are pushing the state's unemployment rate to 13+%.

Maybe it's time to bring in that Super-hero, Bob Walsh, who can whip up a quick little Ponzi scheme ...we'll monetize future Lottery receipts, hand the money over to the Pension system to help sustain Bob's flock, reducing this year's required contributions and pretend the loss of the just sold future Lottery receipts is of no future consequence! Problem solved, Union style.

Does anyone still believe we don't desperately need Collective Bargaining reform, as in NO MORE collective bargaining, a Right-to-work state, Legslation placing a minimum (25%) that emplyees must pay for taxpayer funded employment related healthcare, etc.?

In the interim, let the lay-offs begin. Off with their heads, starting tomorrow.

Posted by: George Elbow at September 3, 2009 8:29 PM

Will the Governor have the guts to lead by example and start in his own cabinet?

I doubt it. After all, it is never the boss' fault.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at September 3, 2009 9:05 PM


If the Gov did move to lay-off members of his cabinet, you can be sure those that were wouldn't go running to the courts, crying for a life-line like the whining dependent Union hacks who think they should be immune to the economic realities that people in the real world deal with on a daily basis.

That being said, I like your thinking on this issue.

When the inevitable layoffs begin at the schools (due to further cuts in state aid resulting from the Union's refusal to allow the Gov to achieve fair-minded savings), can we expect the NEA-RI leadership to step up to the plate and follow your prescription, starting with your position being eliminated?

Keep up the good work. You fools are your own worse enemy. Look no further than Obama-care. You dopes get drunk with your perceived power and, as a result, always over-reach. Like the Union-hacks at GM, get ready for the inevitable blow-back.


Posted by: George Elbow at September 3, 2009 9:31 PM

Is Goldberg's husband linked to the unions as a lobbyist at all?

There is also the issue of where the additional $61 million in cuts to cover the shortfall from last years budget that was uncovered a few days ago will come from.

It could be worse a state judge in California overturned furloughs there also for one union involved. They are teetering.

California will be the 1st state to go into receivership.

Posted by: doughboys at September 3, 2009 10:17 PM

I don't think everything is lost to the Unions. A few days ago a Water Dept worker was killed in Attleboro and I happened to be talking to one of the employees. It seems the worker who was killed was working somnething similiar to overtime, but it isn't called that. The reason was to make up for lost wages because Attleboro has already announced 10 "furlough" days. So, it seems that the "system" has already developed a way to conteract the purpose of the "furlough". The workers will receive the same pay, but apparently it will come from another account.

I would have learned more except that when I got too interested the conversation ended.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at September 3, 2009 10:18 PM

more non-answer from the Elbow.

Was Barack Obama born in America?

Posted by: Pat Crowley at September 3, 2009 10:39 PM

Two words: Pyrrhic victory.

Posted by: Will at September 3, 2009 10:59 PM

I'm behind the governor 100% and these simpletons (union hacks) have once again proven their worth.

I feel for those 1000 workers, I really do but the sad fact is their leadership led them to slaughter.

Maybe now the rank and file will realize the Democratic General Assembly only pretended to work from January until June 30th while Rome was burning.

Maybe now the message will get out the the Governor and his panel were the only ones working on the Hill to offer suggestions for a balanced budget.

Maybe now Bill Murphy will loose his position as a court jester.

Right on Governor and if 1000 aren't enough, go for another 1000.

There will be blood.

Anyone else SURPRISED that Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg overturned the original decision? This is probably the only state where you can go court shopping.

Posted by: Roland at September 4, 2009 12:08 AM

In Hawaii Republican Governor Linda Lingle has obtained consensus from management within the Executive branch, Judicial, and Democratic controlled General Assembly plus the four city mayors of the counties to enact a 5% pay cut and 14 furlough days a year for the next two years to help balance the budget shortfall. The department of Education had their budget reduced by about 14% and must make adjustments, salary cuts, furlough days or layoffs to fall within budget requirements (Hawaii for its 1,600 miles and over 130 islands has one school district and no free school buses. Public school is free but its up to you the parent to feed your child breakfast and get your child to school on time with a lunch in hand and if you want a school bus you pay a fee.) Public school in Hawaii is year round with single holiday, 1, 2 or 3 week breaks not including summer school.

The governmental members of management are leading by example to the rank and file members of the unions which have not yet finalized their proposal to the Governor helping to close the two year $750 million budget shortfall (Hawaii fiscal budget is for two years not like RI which is only for one year.) but all eyes and newspapers are honed in on what the rank and file unions will propose.

I have not read anything like this happening in Rhode Island or proposed by Governor Carcieri who has been talking hard line and threatening layoffs off up to 1,000 state workers. He has already striped the state workforce to the point he had to rehire retired unemployment claims workers back on a part time bases to help speed up the unemployment claims process.

To institute a unilateral 1,000 worker layoff would start the union bumping process, which could take 6 months to a year or more with no cost savings. According to Channel TV-10 newscast after conferring with executive lawyers Governor Carcieri toned down his rhetoric. Could it be he was inflaming the process? He is the only governor in the United States that went on national TV and media discussing how he had to order 12 furlough days to balance his budget this year or was it last year or is it for both years (he uses fuzzy math)?


The judge asked both parties to go back to the table and reach consensus instead of news media grandstanding.

I was a State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations federal government 100% paid including benefits employee before I retired. The federal government allocates the money to the state for the employees and program and all funds must be accounted for or you loose the federal funds the next year for the program. There should be no furlough days for these workers because you can’t use the funds for other means, which is audited each year.

If 1,000 state employees must be laid off, then according to Governor Carcieri’s Channel TV-10 statement it will be the last 1,000 hired into state service to eliminate the bumping process. RI’s 12.7 unemployment rate will go up where HI’s unemployment rate has declined the last two months to 7%. If some of these jobs are direct public service front line jobs then the public will suffer. I wonder how that will sit with those hired under the “good-ole-boy” network on both the Republican and Democratic side (I can see some $100,000.00 plus jobs disappearing).

Good job RI!

Posted by: Ken at September 4, 2009 1:00 AM

Personally, I've always been a fan of Roman decimation. Good morale booster. ;)

I have no doubt the governor will pull the trigger in the absence of a negotiated compromise with the union. The state's financial status is literally getting worse by day. I heard that the layoff notices may be going out within the next week or two. Perhaps the simple threat of layoffs is enough to bring the unions back to reality, but a nice tangible piece of paper tends to drive the point home.

There's the easy way to do this, and there's the hard way. Your choice. Do you feel lucky?

Posted by: Will at September 4, 2009 1:03 AM


Forgive me but I must point out your statement; “Is it any wonder why labor unions are increasingly unpopular?”

Contradicts the following State of RI and Federal facts of increasing union representation in The Ocean State (which has to close its beaches due to sewerage overflow and state beach sands tested in 2009 full of E-Coli according to federal report and RIDEM which can sicken children, adults just laying and playing or digging in RI beach sand). Maybe this is the reason Projo.Com is reporting RI’s hotel taxes are down 15%. Anyone visiting RI pays $8 more a day than visiting HI in hotel, food and rental car transit taxes because all HI beaches are clean, safe, free with free parking.

From the State of Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 16.5 percent (78,000) of private and public sector workers throughout Rhode Island were union members in 2008. This represented an over-the-year increase of 1.5 percentage points, or 3,000 workers. Regionally, the Ocean State had the second highest union membership rate, trailing only Connecticut (16.9%). No New England state experienced a decrease in their union membership rates between 2007 and 2008. Massachusetts posted the greatest increase (+2.5 points), followed by Rhode Island (+1.5 points), Connecticut (+1.3 points), New Hampshire (+0.9), and Maine (+0.6). Vermont’s rate was unchanged over the year.
Among the fifty states, Rhode Island reported the twelfth highest union membership rate, trailing New York (24.9%), Hawaii (24.3%), Alaska (23.5%), Washington (19.8%), Michigan (18.8%), California (18.4%), New Jersey (18.3%), Connecticut (16.9%), Nevada (16.7%), Illinois (16.6%), and Oregon (16.6%). Nationally, the union membership rate was 12.4 percent, up from 12.1 percent one year earlier but well below the 20.1 percent measured in 1983.

Over the year, the percentage of wage and salary workers represented by unions in the Ocean State increased as well, climbing from 15.8 percent in 2007 to 17.4 percent in 2008. Throughout the country, 13.7 percent of public and private sector workers were represented by unions in 2008.”

Posted by: Ken at September 4, 2009 3:00 AM

Hey Pat Crowley,

We already know you struggle with math, you of the famous screwball claim that “the cost of teaching has risen slower than overall inflation”.

Now you've confirmed you struggle equally with the English language. You must have been "taught" by a Union-hack teacher?

You wrote "more non-answer from the Elbow" in response to my earlier post.

The problem is that I wasn't "answering" a question. Rather, I was "asking" a question, you dope.

I'll ask it again: When the inevitable layoffs begin at the schools (due to further cuts in state aid resulting from the Union's refusal to allow the Gov to achieve fair-minded savings), can we expect the NEA-RI leadership to step up to the plate and follow your prescription (i.e. lay-offs of the cabinet), starting with your position being eliminated?

Perhaps you could break tradition and actually give a substantive answer, struggle as you may.

Posted by: George Elbow at September 4, 2009 7:52 AM

Hawiian Ken,

What are the percentages relative to Public vs Private?

Also, do you think maybe the increase in the Perctage of Unionized workers could simply be the result of the reduction in private sector jobs (we do have 13% Unemployment), thus reducing the denominator when calculating the percentage of workers that are in Unions?

I think you've been in the sun too long. Go inside and have an ice-tea and let your "brain" cool off.

Posted by: George Elbow at September 4, 2009 8:24 AM

Hawiian Ken,

Just to clarify: eventually, RI will have NO private sector jobs left.

Then they can say 100% of RI's workforce is Unionized, as the only "workers" that will remain are lazy Entitlement-minded tit-sucking Union-hack public employees.


Posted by: George Elbow at September 4, 2009 8:28 AM

Nowhere in your missive could I find an analytical breakdown of who sits on your state Supreme court, what their spouses do for a living and how that impacts their court rulings. Until you provide that analysis you're really not adequately addressing the issue at hand.

Thanks for the laughs buddy. The media coverage of your "victory" (lol) party outside the courthouse yesterday had all the look of a patient reunion at Eleanor Slater Hospital.
Absolutely hilarious!!

Posted by: Tim at September 4, 2009 8:40 AM

Ken: Two quick points:
1) If the furlough days are kept, the Governor's staff (ie; management and leadership) were subject to the same salary cuts as the rest of the work force. He stated this the other day on the Dan Yorke Show.
2) Regarding union popularity, the link is to a national, not RI, survey. More importantly, it details public opinion--their perception--of unions. Your stats don't reflect whether those union jobs are public or private sector, either. Based on this report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I'd wager that the growth is in the government sector.

Posted by: Marc at September 4, 2009 9:53 AM

Crowley is right about one thing - Carcieri should lead by example, doing otherwise only reinforces the widely held perception of State House cronyism. How many jobs has Steve Cass had now anyway?

Posted by: JP at September 4, 2009 9:56 AM

You gotta love these "progressives" like Patsy Crowley and where they have this state headed. What is a "progressive" anyway? It can only be some other word concocted to deflect from what they really are - stupid f'n liberals. Yeah, that's it - we'll call ourselves something else; then they can't call us stupid any more. Nice try.
Then again, as you look at it, maybe progressive is the right word - as in progressively stupid. Progress, meaning moving forward, toward complete devastation.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at September 4, 2009 10:12 AM

For once I can agree with Pat, just a wee, wee bit - but for entirely different reasons. Carcieri should get rid of the idiots with whom he has surrounded himself.

Maybe if he had hired some competent staff the state wouldn't have reached this point of disaster.

Hawaiian Ken, Pat would like you do do him a favor - could you run down to Honolulu town hall and pick up a birth certificate for him?

Posted by: George at September 4, 2009 12:33 PM

"Maybe if he had hired some competent staff the state wouldn't have reached this point of disaster."

... competent at what, George, printing money? That's about the only thing anyone in the Executive Branch could do to ameliorate the present situation, which is the result of inadequate revenue and excessive expenditures.

That imbalance was, of course, set up over the course of years by the actions of the LEGISLATIVE branch, with whom is solely vested the power to tax, spend and set the tone of the business climate in this state.

Stipulating for a moment your premise as to the inadequacy of the Governor's staff, the cold fact is that Carcieri could have surrounded himself with political and policy Einsteins for seven years and we would be in exactly the same fiscal position right now.

Posted by: Monique at September 4, 2009 1:03 PM

So, the legislative cowards are hiding til Oct. The Governor is the only adult in the room full of spoiled children. Crowley should crawl back in the hole he came out of. It's because of him and his cronies that our state is going to tank. I guess he likes train wrecks.

Posted by: kathy at September 4, 2009 2:27 PM

If the Don had shown some leadership at election time last year...
For example, my state senator (Ruggerio) is the epitome of the kind of union hacks people rail against on this board and on talk radio - as a former union member, I am embarassed that this guy represents the union movement. But he gets a free pass here, on radio, and from The Don and state GOP, none of whom lifted a finger to help Rubbers' GOP opponent.
Put your money where your mouths are, people. Realize that your church, K of C, Little League coaching, etc. pals who you keep re-electing are part of the problem.
As a president once said of am anti-democracy fascist our government supported, "He's a bastard...but he's OUR bastard."

Posted by: rhody at September 4, 2009 3:05 PM

Monique, I'll agree with you about the legislature's roles and responsibilities. But the Governor's is still the highest office in the state. It's where the people look first for leadership.

If the Governor can just throw up his hands and say: " It's not my fault, it's theirs", then does it really make any difference if we have Gov. Lynch or Caprio or Violet or Smith?

A true leader would make a difference. Sorry, but he hasn't!

Posted by: George at September 7, 2009 8:05 PM
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