Last week, online news and commentary web site The Ocean State Current - a project of the conservative Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity - ran a series of posts detailing the overtime pay doled out to state-employed psychiatrists, nurses, and laundry workers.
The pieces included some eye-popping numbers.
My new cover story, sizing up the 2014 gubernatorial race, discusses the early jockeying for labor's support, among other topics. And my basic conclusion is this: public employee unions have no "fair-haired child" in the race, as one Chafee aide put it.
All the leading contenders have ticked off union leaders in one way or another in the last couple of years.
As Dan McGowan at GoLocalProv reported earlier today, Providence City Councilman John Igliozzi has been ousted from his position as chairman of the panel's finance committee a day after he and Councilman Terry Hassett voiced second thoughts about the sweeping pension reform package they recently approved alongside the rest of the council.
We've got a great cover story in this week's Phoenix on Providence's failure to embrace native son H.P. Lovecraft, a horror writer who died in relative obscurity, but has become an international icon and inspiration to the likes of Stephen King.
Why only a gravesite and a little noticed plaque on the Brown campus? Why not a walking trail and a gift shop selling Cthulu thongs? The puacity of local tributes to the man is particularly curious in a city that has gone to such great lengths to market itself as the Creative Capital.
Regular readers of the Phoenix will recall the story I wrote last month on Joey DeFrancesco, who quit his crappy room service job at Marriot's Renaissance Providence hotel with the What Cheer? Brigade in tow - two trumpets, two cymbals, a bass drum, a snare, and a sousaphone serenading his perfectly evil boss - and quickly became a YouTube sensation
We've got a pretty good sense, now, for what the pension bill will look like when it comes up for a vote. And most observers expect it to pass. So how did the key players fare in Smith Hill's battle royale? An initial look:
Yesterday, I wrote about the various political forces bearing down on members of the General Assembly as they decide how to vote on Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Governor Lincoln Chafee's tough pension reform package.
Among the factors they must consider: public employee unions have demonstrated they are willing and able to pick off Democrats, in primaries, who cross them.
Move over, Steven Slater
Bob Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association-Rhode Island, called for a "thoughtful pause" on pension reform in the wake of a judge's decision yesterday that cast some doubt on the state's ability to curb retirement benefits for existing employees.
His call, predictably, went unheeded. Treasurer Gina Raimondo and other state leaders declared that the state must move forward with pension reform while the case winds its way throught the courts.
Providence Journal sister paper, the Dallas Morning News, has laid off 38 employees in the face of declining advertising revenue. Both papers are owned by Dallas-based A. H. Belo. From the Dallas Business Journal:
The Dallas Morning News laid off a reported 38 employees on
Tuesday as the paper's parent company, A.
Steve Smith, president of the Providence Teachers Union, has been a pivotal figure in Rhode Island's education reform movement. He has joined with Providence Superintendent Tom Brady in a unique labor-management partnership to turn around failing schools - a model that has won national attention. And he provided a key bit of support in the state's successful, reform-minded application for $75 million in federal Race to the Top dollars.
Contract negotiations kick off later today between management at the Providence Journal and the Providence Newspaper Guild, which represents news and advertising staff at the paper.
Management is expected to present a contract offer which the union will mull over in the coming days.
The guild's current, three-year deal expires December 31.
An interesting partnership between the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and the Princeton Review. From the release:
The Princeton Review, Inc. (Nasdaq: REVU) and The
Rhode Island AFL-CIO and the Institute for Labor Studies and Research,
organized labor’s leading job training and educational program in Rhode
Island, announced today that they and The Princeton Review’s wholly
owned subsidiary, Penn Foster, Inc.
State Representative David Segal, expected to announce a run for Congress in the near future, has posted a piece on the left-leaning national blog Daily Kos asking progressives to sign a petition backing the workers at the Westin hotel, who are locked in a dispute with management.
The post quotes the political director of Netroots Nation, a large coalition of progressive blogs, suggesting that the group will drop plans to hold its annual conference in Providence next year if workers' needs are not met.