ENEWS: July 18, 2019


For immediate release: July 16, 2019

Statement from George Nee, President of Rhode Island                                                              

“The Rhode Island AFL-CIO, on behalf of the Rhode Island labor movement and the sisters and brothers of our state who everyday work to make sure our state and its people enjoy the prosperity of our labors, condemns in the strongest possible way the recent comments of President Trump against Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. For the President of the United States to embrace the racist rhetoric of White Nationalism as a weapon against four duly elected members of Congress, all of whom are United States citizens, who just happen to be women of color, is a dark day in our long history as a country founded on the principle of “All Men Are Created Equal.”

We in the labor movement live by a simple creed: “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.” The President’s attack on these women leaders is not simply about them, it is about all of us, and as a labor movement we stand united in our condemnation of this hateful, hurtful, and un-American rhetoric. Our 80,000 members are Democrats, Republicans, Independents and everything in between – but as workers we stand united in the principles that make this country great. We will not be silent while the values that we hold dear are undermined by a President who is more focused on dismantling the very foundations of our democracy than in upholding the values that our movement works daily to promote and protect.”

Providence Journal: Mark Patinkin: Woman in a hard hat building respect on the job

Maria Toedt, 27, is one of two women working at the Marriott Residence Inn project on Providence’s Fountain Street.

I often pass a downtown construction site, where the work involves lifting and sweat and thick jeans on hot days, worn mostly by males of beefy build.

And then there is the case of Maria Toedt.

She is 27 and a painter, and of the 90 hard-hats on this site, she is one of two women.

She spent much of Tuesday morning lugging scores of big 60-pound paint cans to set up in a new space, not to mention shoulder-borne bolts of wallpaper.

She was kind enough to pause and chat.

“I think I’m about the only girl left at this point,” Maria said.

She meant here at the Marriott Residence Inn project on Providence’s Fountain Street. Bob Vierra is overseeing it for Gilbane Construction, and he said it’s true: they have had as many as six females, but now just two, the other a site cleaner.

Maria has been a union apprentice for over a year and will need three more to become a journeyman, a word she is fine with.


CNN Business: ‘Prime Day’ is a prime time for collective action

Editor’s note: Liz Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a federation of international labor unions. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.

This week, millions of consumers flocked to Amazon looking for a deal on Prime Day, which brought in more than $3.9 billion for the retail giant last year. Maybe you were one of those shoppers. But, as you await the delivery of the trendiest tech or basic household items you bought for a bargain, remember that it takes hundreds of thousands of workers to turn your simple click of the button into a package at your door at breathtaking speed. And far too often, these workers say they are being treated terribly and denied basic rights on the job. That’s why workers in Shakopee, Minnesota, took a stand and walked out on Monday.

These workers aren’t asking for the moon. They’re demanding a safe and reliable working environment, the chance to advance in their career and the opportunity to organize and advocate for a better life.

Workers in Shakopee are fighting for their right to organize, a right they know creates opportunities to advance their careers and provide better pay, better benefits and faster mobility from temporary to full-time employment. Amazon has defended its worker policies.

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


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

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Boilermakers.

Name of Union: International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB)

Mission: Uniting members across multiple industries and occupations in the union’s common endeavor of improving each other’s lives and lifestyles through union representation.

Current Leadership of Union: Newton B. Jones serves as international president of the Boilermakers. Jones began his career as a Boilermaker 47 years ago and has worked as a field construction boilermaker, high rigger, tube roller, certified pressure welder and in other jobs in the industry. In 1981, he joined the staff of the international union. Five years later, he was appointed director of organizing and communications. After that, he served as international vice president for the Southeast Section and in 2003 was chosen to complete the unexpired term of International President Charles W. Jones, who retired. Newton Jones was then re-elected as international president in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

William T. Creeden serves as international secretary-treasurer, and the Boilermakers have five international vice presidents that serve geographical regions, including Lawrence McManamon (Great Lakes Section), J. Tom Baca (Western Section), Warren Fairley (Southeast Section), John T. Fultz (Northeast Section) and Arnie M. Stadnick (Canada).

Current Number of Members: 60,000


International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers: 50 Years Ago, Machinists Push to the Moon

Fifty years ago, NASA launched its epic Apollo 11 flight placing man on the moon for the first time. The mission was aided by scores of Machinists Union members.

The eight-day Apollo mission started with the July 16, 1969 takeoff of a Saturn V rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On July 20, the 240,000-mile flight to the moon reached the historic milestone with the lunar landing by Neil Armstrong and Edward “Buzz” Aldrin, the world’s first space mechanic and an honorary IAM member.

The July 20 lunar landing was the achievement of a goal set eight years earlier by President John F. Kennedy, who challenged the nation to place a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

In addition to Aldrin, many other IAM members assisted in the Apollo 11 mission.

That included IAM members represented by roughly a dozen locals in Florida and Texas. Among those was nearly 1,500 space mechanics, and members of nine IAM locals in Florida. The workers for companies such as Boeing and Trans World Airlines were tasked with orders such as maintenance, inspection and integration of the shuttle.

Machinists leaders such as then-Grand Lodge Rep. W. J. Usery dubbed the workers as some of the unsung heroes who helped NASA reach the Apollo 11 milestone.

Labor 411: Grilling Season

Ah, summer! You may not have realized it, but July is National Grilling Month, National Picnic Month and National Hot Dog Month. Which means this weekend is the perfect occasion to toss some weenies on the grill or have yourself a picnic. When you hit the outdoors for summer food-related fun, choose the products below made by ethical companies that treat their workers with respect. Let’s all grill and picnic our way to a stronger America. -SEE LIST


“Prevailing wage prevents unscrupulous contractors from low-balling bids and undercutting community wages with cheap, unskilled labor; and this new law will help ensure work is performed by trained workers and that those workers are rewarded fairly for their labor.” —New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech (IUOE)

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A half-million steelworkers begin what is to become a 116-day strike that shutters nearly every steel mill in the country. Management wanted to dump contract language limiting its ability to change the number of workers assigned to a task or to introduce new work rules or machinery that would result in reduced hours or fewer employees – 1959

San Francisco Longshoreman’s strike spreads, becomes 4-day general strike – 1934

Hospital workers win 113-day union recognition strike in Charleston, S.C. – 1969

The Brotherhood of Telegraphers begins an unsuccessful 3-week strike against the Western Union Telegraph Co. – 1883



In the first half of the program, President Jim Vincent of the Providence Branch of the NAACP, sits down with Erica Hammond to discuss the importance of the upcoming census count, the need for affordable low-income housing, the ability for parolees and probationers to attain licenses upon their release, and for just as much focus to be put on teaching trades in schools; all issues that labor and the minority community should work together to achieve moving forward.

And in the second part of the show, Erica speaks with Matt Taibi, Secretary-Treasurer and Matt Maini, Business Agent, both of Teamsters Local 251, about the recent contract win for workers at Centrex Distributors in West Greenwich.