ENews: July 3, 2019

An excellent opinion piece in today’s Providence Journal by Kathy McElroy, President of R.I. Alliance of Social Service Employees, Local 580, SEIU

Providence Journal: Letter: Kathy McElroy: Union members well aware of First Amendment rights

Mike Stenhouse’s self-serving June 27 Commentary piece (“A year later, workers still misinformed”) shows that he is misinformed.

He thinks the fact that most workers have opted to remain dues-paying members correlates to their being misinformed. Our members are smarter than that. They understand what it means to be a voice among many, to stand together for better working conditions, to support each other and the important work that we do. Our members do not live under a rock. The Supreme Court’s Janus ruling was all over the news. Trust me; they are well aware of their rights and our obligations.

In Rhode Island, the opt-out rate is less than 1%. Clearly, when workers are given a choice of following Stenhouse’s hypocritical advice or trusting their elected leaders for guidance and support, they have overwhelmingly chosen the latter.

Furthermore, Stenhouse’s arguments advocate for free loaders. Suggesting that non-members receive equal services means that those members who are paying dues are subsidizing them. Recent legislation simply rectifies that inequity.

Union dues are optional. The fact that most workers have actively chosen to remain with their unions does not mean they are uninformed. It means they want a voice in their workplace and they understand that a collective voice representing them is always better than a single one.

Kathy McElroy


MV Times: Bus driver strike heads into July 4 weekend

The Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) full-time drivers walked off the job Friday morning for a strike that shows no sign of ending, headed into the busy Fourth of July weekend. The VTA is filling in with seasonal drivers and managers of the authority.

The number of drivers on strike has grown, according to driver Richard Townes, with both full-time drivers and a part-time driver now holding up signs demanding affordable health insurance, better hourly wages, and better overall workplace treatment.

Over the weekend, picketers moved to different VTA bus stops around the Island holding signs, handing out pamphlets, and chanting at passersby with information on the strike.

The union met with federal mediator Joe Kelleher Monday afternoon, and is waiting to hear back from him — despite the driver’s parent company, Transit Connection Inc. (TCI) ending communication with the union.


Bloomberg Law: Organize 100,000 New Workers in 5 Years? UNITE HERE Says It Will

  • More than 62,000 employees organized since 2014, union says
  • UNITE HERE to focus on increased union efforts in the South

Organize, fight, win contracts. Repeat.

That was the central message UNITE HERE left hundreds of delegates during its three-day constitutional convention in Las Vegas last week. The union, one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most militant, carried that philosophy to the ambitious goals it set for itself over the next five years.

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor said his union would organize 100,000 new workers by the time it met again for another convention in 2024. It’s an almost unprecedented goal for the 300,000-member union that would represent a roughly 33% growth rate.

“We are in a moment of time where we have the opportunity to organize on a scale we have never seen in our lifetime,” Taylor told delegates. “This moment will not last. And by the way, it won’t wait on us.”

With the election for union president uncontested and no contentious changes to the labor organization’s constitution, Taylor’s organizing ambitions took center stage.


Teamsters: Teamsters Standing Strong One Year After Anti-Worker ‘Janus’ Ruling

(WASHINGTON) – One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with anti-union lawyers and billionaires in the contentious “Janus v. AFSCME” case, an attempt to undercut the ability of public sector workers to join together and negotiate for better pay and benefits on the job. But instead of gutting the union movement, the decision has only served to revitalize it.

By redoubling their efforts to connect with workers in the wake of the high court ruling, the Teamsters have more public employee members today than it had before the Janus decision was handed down. And other unions are reporting similar success stories.

“While we still believe the Supreme Court incorrectly ruled in the case and it should be overturned immediately, the Teamsters are proud of how our local unions have responded,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “Members understand the value of strong unions like the Teamsters in their fight for better pay and safer workplaces.”


National Association of Letter Carriers: Statement on the opening of negotiations for a new collective-bargaining agreement

On June 26, The leaders of the National Association of Letter Carriers and the United States Postal Service formally opened negotiations for a new collective-bargaining agreement. Below is NALC President Fredric Rolando’s opening statement.

Good morning everybody. Thank you to Postmaster General Brennan and Vice President Tulino for hosting this opening ceremony for the NALC’s 15th round of collective bargaining with the United States Postal Service. Since 1970, we have negotiated and/or arbitrated 14 National Agreements. We honor that long record of success and we are here today, in good faith, to begin the work toward a 15th contract that will be fair to both sides of this table.

The backdrop for these talks features some familiar obstacles. As in 2016, we face the impact of the retiree health prefunding mandate that continues to distort the overall financial picture surrounding the Postal Service, accounting for 100 percent of the Postal Service’s losses over the past six years. The outlook for postal reform legislation to resolve the prefunding fiasco remains cloudy at best in the face of Congressional gridlock and political dysfunction. And, once again, the Postal Service is simultaneously engaged with bargaining and arbitrations with the other postal unions, having recently reached a tentative settlement on a new contract with the Rural Carriers.  


Business Insider: America’s labor movement is finally waking up after a 30 year slumber

You may have noticed some labor disruptions in the headlines. A few examples from the past month: employees of Vox Media successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement, Buzzfeed employees walked out in an effort to get recognition for their union, and Volkswagen workers in Tennessee talked wildcat strikes after a vote to unionize failed by a small margin.

Last year, teachers walked off the job in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona with walk-outs and other disruptions from Colorado to the Carolinas. This may seem like bad news for capitalists, but unions can be a source of stability as well as class conflict. The recent labor renaissance could help to reverse some worrying long-term trends in the American economy, while also still benefiting the businesses from which workers are extracting gains. -READ MORE

Labor 411: Revolutionary Products for the 4th

Face it, Americans in 2019 have it a lot easier than we did in 1776. Running water. Modern medicine. Video streaming. In honor of Independence Day, here’s a list of “revolutionary” brands and products that are made by companies that treat their workers fairly. All-American? You bet. These were game-changers, and we wouldn’t want to be “independent” from these items even for a second. And if any of the revolutionary items on this list can be of use during, say, a 4th of July party or for a holiday road trip, all the better. Happy birthday, America!


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

AFL-CIO: Join us for this #IdeasatWork event: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Women in the Trades



“America’s workers have withstood attack after attack on their right to organize. With renewed energy, they are organizing in unions to reclaim their power.” AFSCME President Lee Saunders

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Mary Harris “Mother” Jones begins “The March of the Mill Children,” when, accompanied part of the way by children, she walked from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s home on Long Island to protest the plight of child laborers. One of her demands: reduce the children’s work week to 55 hours – 1903

Cloak makers begin what is to be a 2-month strike against New York City sweatshops – 1910

Workers begin construction on the Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam) on the Colorado River, during the Great Depression. Wages and conditions were horrible—16 workers and work camp residents died of the heat over just a single 30-day period—and two strikes over the four years of construction led to only nominal improvements in pay and conditions – 1931



In the first half of the show, President Tim Melia and Secretary-Treasurer Domenic Pontarelli of UFCW Local 328 recap the events of the recent strike against retail giant Stop & Shop with host Bob Delaney; detailing how negotiations deteriorated, how union leadership saw it coming and used the time to plan for the worst, and how membership were professionals about leaving the jobsite and always courteous on the picket line as they won the hearts and minds of customers, the public, the media and local politicians.

And in the second half of the show, Principal Officer Matt Taibi, President Paul Santos, and Vice-President Tony Suazo sit down with Erica Hammond to discuss their recent success in getting a contract for their members at Rhode Island Hospital.