ENews: July 11, 2019

Demanding Dignity Press Release:

Direct Service Professionals that serve individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive wage boost in state budget

Advocates from the Demanding Dignity campaign thank state leadership but say there is still much more work to be done

Providence, RI – On Friday, July 5, Governor Raimondo signed a budget that includes $9.6 million in increased Medicaid funding to raise the pay for Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) that serve individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Demanding Dignity campaign, which launched to prioritize a $15 minimum wage for Direct Service Professionals, feels the increased investment by state leaders is a good step toward improving the quality and consistency of care for this vulnerable population. The coalition, however, notes that even with this allocation, Rhode Island still lags behind Massachusetts and Connecticut – states that pay a comparable workforce significantly more.

Monica Scott, a direct service professional at Blackstone Valley ARC and member of SEIU 1199 New England, stated, “We shouldn’t have to live in poverty to do this job. The funding increase we won is a big step forward in ensuring our clients get the care they need and our staff earns a little more, but we still have a lot of work to do to make sure that all Rhode Islanders with developmental disabilities – and those who care for them – can live with dignity.”


RICOSH: ALERT: US House Introduces Legislation Protecting Workers From Heat Stress

This week U.S. Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and members of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee will introduce The Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act requiring the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to promulgate a heat stress standard. The Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act is named after a farmworker who died of a heat stroke in 2004, after picking grapes for 10 hours straight in 105-degree temperatures. (Though rare Congress has acted in the past to direct OSHA to promulgate standards on bloodborne pathogens and hazardous waste and emergency response.)

As climate change results in more frequent days of extreme heat and record-breaking summers become the norm, outdoor and indoor workers in workplaces will be at greater risk for workplace heat stress.

·         Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 423 worker deaths among U.S. agri­cultural industries and nonagricultural industries during 1992–2006.

·         According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2,830 workers suffered from heat-related illness and 37 died from heat stroke and related causes in 2015. -READ MORE

United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics:

***VIEW CHART on Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state.

Boston Globe Talking Points PM:

Union clout pays off:  The US Supreme Court undercut a major source of union funding a year ago.

But on labor-friendly Beacon Hill, a “fix” for that court decision is nearing the finish line.

The House and Senate whisked a measure to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk last week that would allow unions for government workers to be reimbursed for arbitration and grievance work they perform on behalf of nonmembers. Roll-call votes in both Democrat-controlled chambers were nearly unanimous.

Baker said he expects to decide on the bill by the end of the week. The Republican governor said he has no qualms with its main objective but has concerns about “privacy issues that were raised by some of the intrusive elements of that law.”

Baker was referring to a provision that would give unions access to workers’ personal email addresses and cell phone numbers. In letters to Baker calling for a veto, the National Federation of Independent Business and the right-leaning Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance criticized that aspect of the bill, in particular.

Each day in Orange, Connecticut more than 8 million tabs of PEZ are created by Local 443 Teamsters.-READ MORE

AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: SMART

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers

Name of Union: International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART)

Mission: To advocate for fairness in the workplace, excellence at work and opportunity for all working families.

Current Leadership of Union: Joseph Sellers Jr., a second-generation sheet metal worker, serves as the general president of SMART. He began his career as an apprentice in 1980 at Local 19 in Philadelphia. In 1994, he was elected to the local’s executive board and was appointed as training coordinator in 1996. He later served as business representative, president and business manager of Local 19.

In 2009, Sellers was elected as SMART’s 11th general vice president. He became general secretary-treasurer in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. He became general president in 2015. During his time in office, Sellers has “developed and led special campaigns to increase outreach and awareness for construction, production and transportation industries members, union industry officials and policy makers on key issues including pensions, health care, and apprenticeships.” He “implemented and continues to lead enhancements to the union’s information technology, professional skills training and lifelong learning curricula.”

Richard McClees serves as general secretary-treasurer and John Previsich serves as transportation division president. SMART also has 15 vice presidents with various areas of responsibility.

Current Number of Members: 216,000


AFT Voices: My union makes me a better teacher

On June 27, the one-year anniversary of the Janus v AFSCME Supreme Court decision to restrict membership in public sector unions, AFT member Tina Whitaker told members of Congress a very personal story about a very public issue: Why public sector unions like the AFT are essential to maintaining high-quality education systems and to building the middle class.

I began my teaching career in May 1995 as a substitute teacher in a middle school in Scotland Neck, N.C., in a county that is currently ranked 90th in per capita income in the state. I was excited not only to be giving back to the community in which I was raised, but also to have the opportunity to work with teachers who had nurtured me as a student.

At the beginning of the next school year, I began teaching North Carolina history and language arts to seventh-graders. Still excited, I decorated my class for my new adventure with the help of those same teachers, who were now my mentors. After the completion of a successful year, unfortunately, I was released from my teaching duties because I was told I had not fulfilled my obligation of getting my certification within my “two years” of employment. A month as a substitute teacher plus one full year does not calculate to working for two years, but I had no one to advocate on my behalf because there was not a union I could belong to in North Carolina. I realized that I would have to navigate these waters alone.


Rewire: Why Young Workers Are Embracing Labor Unions

Millennials are more pro-union than generations before.

In March 2019, the editorial staff at Gimlet Media became the first podcasting company to unionize when they joined the Writers Guild of America. The announcement came just a month after Gimlet was acquired by Spotify in a $230 million dollar deal.

Unionizing has been notoriously difficult for tech companies, according to Fast Company, but it could be the beginning of an industry-wide shift.

And the Gimlet workers’ move is evidence that labor organizing isn’t a thing of the past. The Center for Economic Policy and Research reported that 75 percent of new union members are under the age of 35.

Will younger generations of workers lead a resurgence of organized labor?

Fresh energy

Whitney Yax has been working for the labor movement for more than six years. In her role as an organizer for Communications Workers of America District 1, which represents 150,000 members in the Northeast, she helps new members get involved in their unions.


International Association of Fire Fighters Facebook:

During hurricane season, prepare a safety kit with flashlights, batteries, food, water and important documents.


“To be free, the workers must have choice. To have choice they must retain in their own hands the right to determine under what conditions they will work.” American Federation of Labor (AFL) President Samuel Gompers

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Mary Bloor born on Staten Island, N.Y. Among her activities: investigating child labor in glass factories and mines, and working undercover in meat packing plants to verify for federal investigators the nightmarish working conditions that author Upton Sinclair had revealed in The Jungle – 1862

Some 35,000 members of the Machinists union begin what is to become a 43-day strike that shuts down five major U.S. airlines, about three-fifths of domestic air traffic. The airlines were thriving, and wages were a key issue in the fight – 1966

New England Telephone “girls” strike for 7-hour workday, $27 weekly pay after four years’ service – 1923



In the first half of the program, Bob Dumais, the Principal at Legacy Benefit Advisors sits down with Bob Delaney for a discussion of options for and setting up Medicare plans and any supplements for once someone decides to finally separate from the workforce; a subject that should be of vital importance to anyone nearing retirement age.

And in the second half of the show, Dr. Okurowski of the Occupational and Environmental Health Center is back with Jim Riley to remind us to cover up when outdoors at this time of year because of the dangers of Lyme Disease.