WPRI’s Tim White provides another example of the excesses of government union contracts in Rhode Island:
A disproportionate number of Rhode Island sheriffs are out of work after claiming an on-the-job injury, collecting their full salaries tax-free at a cost to taxpayers of more than $2 million a year, according to a Target 12 review of payroll data.
As of September, 23 of the 179 sheriffs were on injured on duty status, or IOD. By comparison, only three of Rhode Island’s 226 state police troopers are out on IOD.
Target 12 discovered that unlike other public safety agencies, Rhode Island’s sheriffs have a unique two-tiered system that allows them to stay on IOD for years. Of the 23 sheriffs who currently have that status, seven have been on IOD for more than four years, with four on IOD for more than eight years. The longest for 11 years and nine months, as of September.
That $2 million is just the start, because the courthouse sheriff division has to pay overtime to cover missing employees, approximately $732,000 annually. Moreover, the lack of sheriffs creates inefficient and dangerous environment, as courtrooms close or judges go without security.
Last year, the General Assembly refused to act, and Rhode Island law stacks the deck too strongly in favor of unions during negotiations, and that’s beyond the degree to which unions’ political activity places friendly faces on the other side of the negotiating table. This state of affairs can’t go on forever, especially in a state that strangles its economy with taxes and regulations.