Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that the State, Council 94, and the Coalition of Unions entered into a tentative agreement which is now subject to ratification vote by each respective union. Council 94 is made up of approximately 65 local unions in most state agencies in Rhode Island. The Coalition is made up of more than a dozen unions representing various groups of state employees. Together Council 94 and the Coalition represent all union state employees outside of the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers and State Police.
The tentative agreement provides for a four year contract, retroactive to July 1, 2013. Effective April 6, 2014, there will be a two percent increase for union members, who have not received a wage increase for close to three years. Another two percent will be given on October 5, 2014 and a third two percent increase will be given on October 4, 2015. Given there has not been a wage increase for state employees since July 1, 2011, this agreement provides a total increase of six percent over a four year contract period between fiscal years 2014 and 2017 with a wage reopener option in the fourth year of the contract.
For the first time in the State's history, the unions have agreed to incorporate fair and reasonable deductibles in their health insurance. Effective January 1, 2015, the deductibles will be $250 for individuals and $500 for families. Effective July 1, 2014, the unions have also agreed to increases across-the-board in point of service medical insurance co-pays, as well as in pharmaceutical co-pays. It is anticipated that these changes will result in substantial medical cost containment savings over time for the State, which is self-insured. In addition, the unions have agreed to allow the State to institute optional innovative health plans. The vision is to create attractive, cost-efficient, innovative plans, which employees may participate in on a voluntary basis resulting in reduced co-shares for employees and reduced medical costs for the State. Finally, the unions agreed to a mechanism that would allow for a mid-term implementation of personnel reform, which is aligned with one of the top recommendations in the Comprehensive Personnel Study Report previously released in January 2013. The next step for the State will be to complete a classification and compensation study.
"I am happy to announce that all parties have come to a successful agreement," said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee. "Government would not function without our valued and talented state employees, and I believe this agreement addresses the value of state employees while simultaneously providing cost savings for the State."
"I, too, am happy that we have reached agreement," added Director of Administration Richard Licht. "In light of the fact there has been no increase for state employees since July 2011, I am glad that we will be able to provide a fair wage increase for our employees, recognizing the excellent contributions they provide to our state agencies and our Rhode Island citizens."
"After a long year of negotiations, I feel we have reached a settlement that both the State and the members can embrace," stated Linda Loveday, Chief Negotiator and State Vice President of Council 94. "It has been a pleasure to work with Governor Chafee, as well as with Director Licht and his negotiating team."
"This agreement, negotiated over the last eleven months, represents a fair agreement for our members," stated Patrick Crowley, a representative for the Coalition and Government Relations Director for the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI). "Given the state's current economic position we believe this agreement balances fair changes for state employees while simultaneously providing strong economic footing for the state moving forward."