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Monday, May 30, 2016

General membership meeting update

Posted by Lou on May 17, 2016

Brothers and sisters,

Just a reminder about the general membership meeting next Tuesday May 24, 2016 – 4:20pm at
235 Promenade Street, Providence in the 3rd Floor Cafeteria.

The agenda includes the following:

  • a discussion of the summer outing
  • a report of findings from our trustee and professional financial audit
  • Update on wage reopener
  • health care holiday
  • new job posting protocol
  • International Convention/delegates
  • United healthcare training courses
  • Local 2881 scholarship update
  • any new items that you might have for us

In the meantime, another article questioning the usefulness and appropriateness of hedge funds surfaced, this time on Vice.com.

Thanks!

General Membership Meeting

Posted by Lou on May 13, 2016

Brothers and sisters,

Our next general membership meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 24 at 4:20pm in the 3rd floor cafeteria of the 235 Promenade Street offices. The agenda will include a discussion of the summer outing, a report of findings from our trustee and professional financial audits, and any new items that you might have for us.

In the meantime, enjoy this article which describes a $38 million projected increase in revenues by state financial analysts for the current fiscal year and another $9 million for next fiscal year. What it doesn’t describe is using that increased revenue to boost the funding percentage of our pension fund. Guess it’s only OK to worry about the pension funding when it can be used to reduce our benefits.

See you then!

ERSRI System update

Posted by Lou on May 6, 2016

Brothers and sisters,

We received the following message from the Employee’s Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI), saying that the online system is being upgraded. See below.

Dear Labor Leader,

The Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI) is upgrading its computer system to a modern technology platform that will enable us to deliver better customer service.

The system upgrade will NOT impact the monthly pension payroll. Retirees’ pension payments WILL be made as regularly scheduled on the last business day of the month.

Here is important information you can share with constituents who may contact you with questions about changes to the system:

  • ERSRI is moving to a modern technology platform that will enable us to deliver better customer service.
  • The new system will allow for future integration between ERSRI and TIAA (the Defined
  • Contribution Plan) websites.

  • The new system will enhance the benefit estimate tool and offer easier navigation with a new look and feel.

During the conversion there are a few items you may communicate to your constituents if asked:

  • Address changes cannot be made through the ERSRI website from May 9 to June 6. However, your constituents may mail changes or contact ERSRI directly.
  • There may be delays in processing retirement applications, benefit and eligibility estimates and changes to account information as we transfer to the new system.

We appreciate your constituents’ patience during this transition, and will make every effort to respond to all inquiries and requests as quickly as possible.

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions, at (401) 462-7600.

Sincerely,

Frank Karpinski
Executive Director, Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island

Also, please remember that the 2016 Giovanni Folcarelli Scholarship applications are due May 21. Children and grandchildren of members in good standing are eligible for this award. The application packet can be found on the RI Council 94 website.

Thanks!

Pension links

Posted by Lou on May 5, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

There have been a bunch of links to articles about pensions be sent around among our membership lately, so it makes sense to post them here.

It looks like one of the nation’s largest pension funds could be cutting benefits for retirees. The part of this article that really hit home with me was:

For many workers, the promise of a [pension] — a benefit now nearly extinct for younger generations — was at times strong enough to convince them to sacrifice pay raises or other job opportunities.

Locally, Ted Siedle takes the Governor to task regarding investment returns from her former employer’s hedge fund, Point Judith Capital in a recent article on Forbes.com. And GoLocalProv.com posts a brief article talking about how the pension fund lost money by investing with Point Judith Capital, while the Governor continues to earn her share of management fees paid to the fund.

How does this make you feel? What should union members be doing to combat these issues? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks!

Giovanni Folcarelli Scholarship

Posted by Lou on March 30, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

Council 94 has made the Giovanni Folcarelli Scholarship application packet available on their website. You can get a copy via the link above. If you would like a hard copy mailed to you, please contact Susan Petersen at Council 94 Headquarters at 724-5900.

Good luck!

Friedrichs v. CTA

Posted by Lou on March 29, 2016

The Supreme Court has issued a decision in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association. The court has tied, 4-4, therefore affirming the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to allow “agency fees” to be collected from non-members who benefit from collective bargaining activities by unions. Links to more coverage below:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/03/29/supreme-court-public-employee-unions-mandatory-fees-scalia/81123772/

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/us/politics/friedrichs-v-california-teachers-association-union-fees-supreme-court-ruling.html?_r=0

AFSCME Council 94 State Convention

Posted by Lou on March 16, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

If you are interested in going to the state AFSCME convention being put on by Council 94, please let Joe Antonio know ASAP. The convention is 9am-12pm on Saturday March 26, at RI College. There is no agenda available, but we are trying to get an idea of what business is being conducted to keep you informed.

Also, we’re soliciting ideas for the summer outing, so if you have any suggestions, please contact one of the executive board members.

Thanks!

Pension Fund News

Posted by Lou on March 8, 2016

More bad news about our pension fund: GoLocalProv.com is reporting that the state employees’ pension fund has not grown under Raimondo or Magaziner.

There are multiple reasons for this, but it basically comes down to a combination of two factors.

1) Negative cash flow – Due to the age of the system and previous generosity to people who weren’t contributing and/or early retirements, the fund pays out more in benefits than it receives in active employee contributions.

2) Underperforming investments – The pension fund return on investment over the last five years has been 9.77%, but the S&P 500 (an index of 500 large corporations considered the best respresentation of the stock market as a whole) has increased 14.1%. Ted Siedle will be specifically investigating the real estate portion of the pension fund investments in an upcoming investigation.