Fed Review Board Alleges NE Teamster Boss Violated Federal Order
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
O'Brien, in footage obtained by GoLocal, can been seen addressing a crowd of supporters regarding the reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, who he addresses as the competition for upcoming elections in Local 251 in Rhode Island. "They need to be punished, held accountable for their actions," says O'Brien.
The Independent Review Board, which includes William Hedgcock Webster, Benjamin Richard Civiletti, and Joseph diGenova (see bios below), has issued a letter to the IBT General Executive Board to rule on the actions of O'Brien, the President of Teamsters Joint Council 10 along with Teamsters Local 25 in Massachuesetts -- which they say appear to be in violation of federal labor law.
The letter continues, "By his actions, it appears that, while an officer of the IBT and Joint Council 10, O'Brien violated Article II...of the IBT Constitution by threatening to retaliate against IBT members for exercising rights protected under federal labor law and the IBT Constitution."
In the video, O'Brien calls out specifically the reform group Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). Nick Williams, campaign manager for the Local 251 opposition slate United Action in Providence, said that a number of United Action members are TDU members as well.
"This is a slap in the face of democracy," said Williams, of the threats by O'Brien.
Review Board Established to Monitor Corruption -- and Control
The IRB has called the General Executive Board of the IBT to review the case, and within 90 days send their finding back to the IRB for review.
Benjamin Richard Civiletti served as the United States Attorney General during the Carter administration, from 1979 to 1981. Civiletti is one of the three members of the IRB), which the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union must answer to when allegations of corruption or organized crime infiltration surface under the terms consent decree issued by a federal district court judgment.
William Hedgcock Webster is the current Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Previously Webster was the third Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1978 to 1987 and Director of Central Intelligence from 1987 to 1991.
Joseph diGenova in 1997 was named Special Counsel by the U.S. House of Representatives to probe the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. As a result of that assignment, he was appointed by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, to sit on the Independent Review Board. He is on that Board with former FBI and CIA Director William Webster and former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti. In 2007, diGenova was retained by the New York State Senate to investigate then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the Troopergate matter.
Timeline - Rhode Island Pension Reform
GoLocalProv breaks down the sequence of events that have played out during Rhode Island's State Employee Pension Fund reform.
Governor Don Carcieri makes pension reform a top priority in his emergency budget plan. His three-point plan included:
1. An established minimum retirment age of 59 for all state and municipal employees.
2. Elimination of cost-of-living increases.
3. Conversion of new hires into a 401(k) style plan.
See WPRI's coverage of Carcieri's proposal here.
Rhode Island's state administered public employee pension system only held 48% of the assets to cover future payments to its emplyees.
"This system as designed today is fundamentally unsustainable, and it is in your best interest to fix it" - Gina Raimondo
Check out Wall Street Journal's coverage here.
Gina Raimondo defeats opponent Kernan King in the election for General Treasurer of Rhode Island using her platform to reform the structure of Rhode Island's public employee pension system. She received 201,625 votes, more than any other politician on the 2010 Rhode Island ballot.
Raimondo leads effort to reduce the state’s assumed rate of return on pension investments from 8.25 to 7.5%.
Her proposal includes plans to suspend the Cost of Living Adjustment (which allows for raises corresponding with rates of inflation for retirees), changing the retirement age to match Social Security ages, and adding a defined contribution plan.
Raimondo releases “Truth in Numbers”, a report detailing the pension crisis and offering possible solutions. She continues to work to raise public support for her proposal.
"Decades of ignoring actuarial assumptions led to lower taxpayer & employee contributions being made into the system." - Gina Raimondo (Truth in Numbers)
Read GoLocalProv's analysis of the report here.
Read the Truth in Numbers report here.
Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo present their pension reform legislation proposal before a joint session of the General Assembly.
“Our fundamental goal throughout this process has been to provide retirement security through reforms that are fair to the three main interested parties: retirees, current employees and the taxpayer…I join the General Treasurer in urging the General Assembly to take decisive action and adopt these reforms.”- Gov. Lincoln Chafee
Head of Rhode Island firefighters’ union accuses Raimondo of “cooking the books” to create a pension problem where one did not exist. Paul Valletta Jr. states that Raimondo raised Rhode Islanders’ assumed mortality rate to increase liability to the state, using data from 1994 instead of updated information from 2008, and lowered the anticipated rate of return on state investments.
“You’re going after the retirees! In this economic time, how could you possibly take a pension away?” Paul Valletta Jr (Head of RI Firefighters' Union)
Read more from the firefighters' battle with Raimondo here.
Check out the New York Times' take on RI's pension crisis here.
November 17, 2011
The Rhode Island Retirement Security Act (RIRSA) is enacted by the General Assembly with bipartisan support in both chambers. RIRSA’s passing is slated to reduce the unfunded liability of RI’s pension system and increase its funding status by $3 billion and 60% respectively, level contributions to the pension system by taxpayers, save municipalities $100 million through lessened contributions to teacher and MERS pension systems, and lower the cost of borrowing.
Read more from GoLocalProv here.
November 18, 2011
Governor Lincoln Chafee signs RIRSA into law. According to a December 2011 Brown University poll, 60% of Rhode Island residents support the reform. Following its enactment, Raimondo holds regional sessions to educate public employees on the effects of the legislation on their retirement benefits.
Read about how Rhode Islanders react to RIRSA here.
Raimondo hosts local workshops to explain the pension reforms across Rhode Island. She also receives national attention for her contributions to the state’s pension reforms. The reforms are given praise and many believe Rhode Island will serve as a template for other States’ future pension reforms.
Read about the pension workshop here.
Read Raimondo's feature in Institutional Investor here.
March - April 2012
Raimondo opposes Governor Chafee’s proposal to cut pension-funded deposits. She continued to provide workshops on the pension reforms.
December 5, 2012
Raimondo publicly opposes Governor Chafee’s meetings with union leaders in an effort to avoid judicial rulings on the pension reform package. In response, Chafee issues a statement supporting the negotiations.
Read more about Raimondo's opposition here.
Read about Chafee's statement here.
Led by the Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters, unions protest the 2011 pension reform outside of the Omni Providence where Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo conduct a national conference of bond investors.
Read about Raimondo's discussion of distressed municipalities here.
The pension plan comes under increased scrutiny as a result of the involvement of hedge funds and private equity firms. Reports show that $200 million of the state pension fund was lost in 2012.
"In short, impressive educational credentials and limited knowledge of investment industry realities made Raimondo ideally suited to champion private equity’s public pension money grab." - Ted Seidle (Forbes)
Read GoLocalProv's coverage of the State Pension Fund's losses here.
Read Ted Seidle's criticism of Raimondo in Forbes.
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