Carcieri vs. Council 94: today's update
Here's the word from the Gov:
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."
And the response from Council 94:
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."