State Union Workers Just ‘Like Everyone Else’?

Although Gov. Don Carcieri has declared negotiations over, the largest state employees union continues to play by its own rules. Today the union is meeting to propose a compromise with the governor. Meanwhile we found the below comment from the executive director of the union interesting, when he was explaining why the union had rejected the governor’s proposal for furloughs and a delay in a pay increase. Here is Joseph Peckham, the executive director of Council 94, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, explaining the union vote to the Projo yesterday:

“It was not even close,” said Council 94’s acting executive director Joseph Peckham.

When asked what led to the defeat by the Council 94 leadership board, which represents about one-third of the state’s unionized workers, Peckham said: “The strong sense in the room was that state employees have given, and given, and given for the past two or three years, and they’ve given enough.”

“They have gone without pay. They have had pay cuts, because of the health-insurance increases in premiums. They have had their pensions reduced. We are in this like everyone else,” he said. “Most of our people are average working-class people who are trying to eke out a living.”

Read through what the governor proposed and ask yourself if these union workers really like “everyone else”? The governor’s plan included 12 total furlough days: eight this year and four next. But, in return, workers would have earned 15 leave days, eight of which they could cash out when they leave state employment. Carcieri also asked the union to wait six more months for a 3 percent pay raise – remember this is in addition to longevity bonuses workers receive. Here’s the topper: if the union had made these “concessions” he would have promised no layoffs or shutdown days for the next two years.  Does this sound like the kind of treatment “everyone else” is getting in this economy?

By the way, you view public employee contracts, in the RI Data section of our Transparency Train.

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