It's a shame municipalities couldn't see this coming when they were negotiating these contracts over decades, but the they wouldn't have had union backing from public sector employees to get elected. The chickens are coming home to roost in Rhode Island and elsewhere and there's plenty of chicken shit to go around.
CRANSTON, R.I. — Providence Mayor Angel Taveras on Saturday asked retired city workers to negotiate concessions in their pension and health care benefits as he seeks to close a $22.5 million budget deficit, saying they stand to lose much more if Rhode Island's capital is forced into bankruptcy.
At a town hall meeting in Cranston where tempers occasionally flared, Taveras proposed an across-the-board suspension of pension cost-of-living adjustments and asked retirees 65 and older to pay a 20 percent portion of their health benefits.
He also asked retirees over 65 to agree to be shifted onto Medicare — a matter that is being litigated after retirees sued to block the change and a state judge granted a temporary injunction.
The city said those three steps would save nearly $29 million annually.
"We need your help to get it done," Taveras told the approximately 475 retirees in the crowd at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. "If we don't take this opportunity now to fix it, we're going to go the route of our neighbor to the north."
Taveras was referring to Central Falls, which the state took over in 2010 and where a receiver filed for bankruptcy in August. Pensions in Central Falls were cut by as much as 55 percent. In Providence, city officials warned, they could be slashed up to 73 percent.
"I guarantee if you do nothing, it's going to be a lot worse than what I proposed today," Taveras said.