Rhode Island hybrid plan lawsuits to go to mediation

Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Tuesday ordered federal mediation on pension lawsuits from unions and retirees over the creation of a state hybrid pension plan, according to separate news releases from state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and the National Education Association-Rhode Island.

Mediation will be handled by a team from Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the judge expects a report back by Feb. 1. If an agreement is not reached, a trial is scheduled start around May 20.

“We continue to believe the state has a very strong case and a terrific legal team,” Ms. Raimondo said in her release. “As I have consistently said, we will participate in court-ordered mediation in good faith.”

The Rhode Island General Assembly in November 2011 passed a widespread pension reform bill, the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011, that created the hybrid plan. Ms. Raimondo has said the reform measure would decrease the unfunded liability of the $7.5 billion Rhode Island Employees' Retirement System, Providence, to $4.3 billion from $7.3 billion.