Bloomberg News

Rhode Island, Unions Settle Suit Over 2011 Pension-Law Changes

February 14, 2014

Rhode Island officials and union leaders said they’ve reached a deal to settle challenges to public pension-overhaul laws aimed at strengthening one of the U.S.’s most underfunded retirement programs.

Under the settlement of lawsuits filed by public-employee unions, the state agreed to restore pension increases more quickly than provided for in the revised law, according to an e-mailed statement by Governor Lincoln Chafee. The accord allows Rhode Island officials to maintain changes to the pension system that offer potential savings of about $4 billion.

“We believe this proposal is fair for our public employees, retirees, taxpayers and cities and towns,” Chafee, Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo and union leaders said in a joint statement today.

The settlement helps preserve Rhode Island’s effort to lead U.S. state and local governments’ attempts to control retiree costs as pension-plan losses drained assets. Estimates of the collective unfunded pension liability across the country run as high as $4.6 trillion.

The case is Rhode Island Public Employees Retiree Coalition v. Chafee, 12-3166, State of Rhode Island Superior Court (Providence).

To contact the reporter on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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