RI pension settlement vote taken in two rounds

Ballots have been mailed to those voting on a proposed pension settlement in Rhode Island. But some union members are concerned because they didn't receive one.

More than 24,000 ballots have been sent out, but Jeanne Caries, who taught for 30 years before retiring, expected to see one.

"Yes, I was, because I'm a retiree and it was my COLA that was frozen," Caries said.

She hasn't received a ballot for now, and she won't.

The first round of voters are all members of distinct groups that participated in the union lawsuit.

"This first round of voting is for members and organizations that were part of filing this lawsuit, and so they will have their opportunity to weigh in," said Ray Sullivan, who represents a coalition of unions.

The scores of unions and retiree groups are listed on the Rhode Island Pension Settlement Proposal website, and Varies is not in any of them. So no one has been updating her, or even some current teachers.

"What's happened is that you've had a number of teachers contacting each other trying to find out, where do we get this information? So that information apparently wasn't being automatically provided to us," Caries said.

Before the process is over, if the first vote passes, all retirees and vested workers will get to approve or disapprove.

"In the second round of balloting, anyone with more than 10 years of contributory service as of June 30, 2012 -- whether they be state or municipal or retiree -- will have the opportunity to weigh in with a ballot," Sullivan said.

The second round of balloting only goes forward if the first vote is in favor of the mediated settlement. If union members approve the settlement, then it will go to lawmakers for a vote.