The so-called opt-out case by some Providence retirees continued this week. Testimony yesterday did not include absurdly elitest and damaging references to BMW’s and international travel as it did at the start of the trial. Nevertheless, the lamenting of the loss of a pension COLA
During two hours of testimony in the trial involving the retirees who opted out of a 2013 pension settlement with the city, Stephen T. Day explained that he anticipates his 3% COLA would add about $800 to his pension check by 2019, providing a boost to his finances and allowing him help his family and retire.
is quite simply impossible to relate to by so many of us who don’t have any kind of (or only a woefully inadequate) retirement fund or a (quaintly antiquated) pension, much less a COLA. It’s important to note that so many public retirees in Rhode Island receive a very generous base pension to begin with, often goosed by overtime pay and – perhaps the most expensive component – one that so many retirees began collecting after only twenty or twenty five years of work.
To add to that a legal demand to keep a COLA comes across to most of us in the Dreaded Private Sector (D.P.S.), who are underwriting all of these highly quizzical promises, as someone demanding dessert after a five course meal when so many of us won’t be getting supper.
I cannot speak to the legal merits of this case. But by any measure, both the COLA’s and the bulk of public pensions are plainly inequitable. And from a p.r. perspective, the optics of this trial couldn’t be worse.