ENEWS: May 23, 2019

AFL-CIO: Path to Power Is Clear in the Ocean State

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO has been busy in 2019, leading the fight on a number of important legislative initiatives. There are numerous union members who have been elected to the state legislature and that has provided an opportunity to pass legislation that will make a huge difference for our members and for working people across the Ocean State.

Earlier this month, the state legislature passed, and Gov. Gina Raimondo signed, a continuing-contract bill that would indefinitely lock in wages and benefits in expired public-employee contracts. The law now prevents cities and towns from unilaterally slashing pay and making employees pay more for their health insurance during deadlocked negotiations.

The state federation also was involved in passing a bill that established fairness in the overtime laws to firefighters and relieves them of burdensome shift scheduling practices. A top priority for the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters/IAFF, the new law sets the overtime threshold at 42 hours per week, bringing firefighters’ overtime protections more in line with other industry workers. -READ MORE

An excellent letter to the editor in the Johnston Sunrise by James Parisi, field representative and lobbyist with the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals.Johnston Sunrise: Setting the record straight on continuing contracts

To the Editor:

When I read the article in the Johnston Sun Rise in the May 9, 2019, edition about contract continuation legislation, it made me want to both laugh and cry.

I laughed because of article indicates our mayor is considering a constitutional challenge to the contract continuation legislation. I wanted to cry because of the significant misinformation the mayor and the League of Cities and Towns have spread about this issue.

Collective bargaining for teachers exists because of state law, not because of anything in the Rhode Island Constitution. The bill does not take the “constitutional right away to negotiate.” Of course, if the mayor and the League of Cities and Towns want to propose some constitutional provisions to collective bargaining, I am certain I can convince my brothers and sisters in the labor movement to support the cause and amend our constitution to include collective bargaining.

I have lobbied for teachers and school support staff in support of contract continuation legislation for years and cannot believe claims made by my mayor and the League. The legislation preserves the status quo and will not cost the taxpayers one dime. The bill will not have a “devastating effect” because 99.9 percent of the time, when a public sector contract has expired over the last few decades, the contract did not change while the parties have continued to negotiate. -READ MORE

Providence Business News: R.I. Community Food Bank’s donations from Stamp Out Hunger increase 48%

PROVIDENCE – The annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive, in which letter carriers collect bags of food from postal customers, brought in nearly 92,000 pounds of food for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, a 30,000-pound increase over last year’s efforts.

For the 27th year, members of the National Association of Letter Carriers collected bags of nonperishable food on May 11. In addition to the 92,000 pounds that went to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, food was delivered to many local food pantries by postal carriers.

“We’re so thrilled with the success of the food drive this year – and with the support we received from the letter carriers and their customers.” said Andrew Schiff, Rhode Island Community Food Bank CEO. “We rely on the food collected during this drive to feed children during the summer months when they are no longer receiving free and reduced-price lunches at school.”

The Stamp Out Hunger drive is part of a national effort that includes the National Association of Letter Carriers, the United States Postal Service, National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, AFL-CIO, UFCW, United Way, Valassis and Valpak. -READ MORE



Heat Stress: Can be a Dangerous Companion

Employers and workers need to be aware that heat stress can happen well before temperatures reach official limits for workplace safety. The “heat index” is a measure of how hot it really feels when humidity is taken into account. Traditionally many authorities warn that workers are at risk of heat stress when the heat index reaches 91 degrees Fahrenheit (32.8 degrees Celsius) or higher.

But an analysis of 25 incidents of outdoor worker illnesses and deaths shows that the risk can rise at a heat index of just 85 degrees F (29.4 C). Six deaths happened at heat indexes below 90 degrees F. “Heat-related illnesses can and do occur on days that aren’t particularly hot. An average summer day, with a temperature in the 80s, can fatally injure workers if proper precautions are not taken,” said lead author Dr. Aaron Tustin of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington, D.C.“When working in warm or hot weather, take precautions to avoid heat stroke,” Tustin “Don’t wait until the temperature is above 90.”


Washington Post: Opinion: We need action on infrastructure, not more talk

Thomas J. Donohoe is president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO.

More than half a century ago, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower and a Democratic-majority Congress empowered millions of Americans to build an interstate highway system that became the envy of the world. Back then, our nation understood that investment in infrastructure was crucial to creating a better future.

The interstate highway system was such a success that, 60 years later, both parties still fight over who gets credit for it.

Today, our leaders often talk about big ideas but rarely summon the political courage to accomplish them. As a result, our roads, bridges, airports, railways and utilities are outdated and in need of urgent repairs. In 2014, our clogged roads cost $160 billion in lost productivity and wasted fuel. Our packed airports cost nearly $36 billion a year from air travel complications, and our crumbling infrastructure has cost American lives. It should not take another tragedy to change that. -READ MORE

AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Farm Labor Organizing Committee

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).

Name of Union: Farm Labor Organizing Committee

Mission: To challenge the deplorable conditions of the broader workforce that remains voiceless, powerless and invisible to mainstream America by giving farm workers a voice in the decisions that affect them and bringing all parties to the table to address industry-wide problems.

Current Leadership of Union: Baldemar Velasquez is the founder and president of FLOC. Justin Flores serves as vice president and Christiana Wagner serves as secretary-treasurer.

Members Work As: Farm workers.

Industries Represented:Agriculture throughout the United States.


Labor 411: Memorial Day 2019

In addition to being an occasion to remember the servicemen and women who gave their lives protecting our nation, the Memorial Day holiday signals the unofficial start of summer. On this busy three-day weekend, grills will be fired up, sunscreen will be slathered (don’t forget!) and time with friends and family will be enjoyed. Not only are the products listed below essential for any barbecue, they’re all made by ethical companies who give their workers a voice on the job. Enjoy the holiday and let’s all grill our way to a stronger America.

**Remember to purchase your food and beverages from Stop & Shop, Shaws and Eastside Marketplace.


“Working people are teaching America what it looks like to stand in solidarity with your co-workers. To have dignity and rights in the workplace. To have a voice on the job. To help build an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.”AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Shuler at the AFL-CIO Southwest District meeting

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The 2019 George “Bing” Fogarty Memorial Classic Golf Tournament

The George “Bing” Fogarty Foundation was established by the family and friends of Bing to carry on his legacy of charitable works and helping others. Bing lived his life in service of others and quietly helped thousands of people in multitude of ways. This foundation will attempt to carry on those good works by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and in need of a shoulder to lean on.

When: Friday, June 7 Where: Exeter Country Club, 320 Ten Rod Road (Route 102), Exeter, RI Time: Registration 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Shotgun Format: Scramble Cost: $150 to play golf with steak fry; $125 Tee Sign; $250 Corporate/Union Sponsor

For more information: E-Mail BingFogartyMemorial@gmail.com or call (401) 932-3642




The Railway Labor Act takes effect today. It is the first federal legislation protecting workers’ rights to form unions – 1926

The AFL-CIO begins what is to become an unsuccessful campaign for a 35-hour workweek, with the goal of reducing unemployment. Earlier tries by organized labor for 32- or 35-hour weeks also failed – 1962

American Labor Union founded -1902

Men and women weavers in Pawtucket, R.I., stage nation’s first “co-ed” strike – 1824

Western Federation of Miners members strike for 8-hour day, Cripple Creek, Colo. – 1894



In the first half of the show, Jim Parisi of the RIFT and RI Labor History Society sits down with Bob Delaney of the Institute for Labor Studies to describe the upcoming lecture on June 3 at the Teamsters Hall in East Providence of the once 15,000-strong Boilermakers Local 308 that formed during WWII to help the war effort, all while putting aside civil unrest and racial animus at a time when many unions were still very much segregated.

And in the second half of the show, the Leadership for a Future program of the RI Institute for Labor Studies and Research graduation ceremony takes place from the State House senate chambers. Congratulations to all who participated!