ENews: August 1, 2019

An excellent Letter to the Editor in today’s Boston Globe by Maribeth Calabro, President of Providence Teachers Union, Local 958, RIFTHP

Boston Globe: Simply blaming teachers won’t solve Providence schools’ woe

In “R.I. education chief seeks to take over Providence schools” (Metro, July 19), you suggest that the biggest thing standing in the way of the state takeover of Providence public schools is the Providence Teachers Union contract. As president of that union, and as a person who has spent 26 years in the classroom educating the kids of Providence, I disagree.

The way we tackle the challenges facing our schools — crumbling infrastructure, kids and teachers who feel unsafe, and a gap between the community and the place its kids are spending a majority of their time — falls on all of us, elected officials, educators, parents and students alike. The teacher’s union isn’t the enemy here. We are the voice of the teachers who want what’s best for our kids, and we’ve been fighting for it for years, despite some incredibly challenging conditions.

Since the Johns Hopkins report came out, the Providence Teachers Union has shouldered a great deal of blame for the issues facing our schools. But it’s far too easy to just blame teachers. These are systemic, community-wide problems that date back years and require deep investment and commitment across the board, including more support and professional development for educators, increased counselors and social emotional learning opportunities for students, and a commitment to collaboration on developing cultural competencies and behavioral norms for everyone who walks through our school doors.

If our contract — which was negotiated, ratified and implemented by both our union and the district — now stands in the way of any of those goals, I’ll be first in line to discuss revising it. Otherwise, I look forward to getting to work on the real issues facing the students and teachers of Providence.

Maribeth Calabro, President, Providence Teachers Union

Providence Journal: School Dept. bars union head, reporters from buildings tour

PTU President Maribeth Calabro had asked reporters to tour Hope High School after getting reports from teachers that the East Side high school and Del Sesto Middle School on Springfield Street have issues with rodents with fewer than 40 days until classes resume.

PROVIDENCE — The president of the Providence Teachers Union and two reporters were denied entrance to two city schools, Hope High School and Del Sesto Middle School, on Monday morning.

PTU President Maribeth Calabro had asked reporters to tour Hope High School after getting reports from teachers that the East Side high school and the middle school on Springfield Street had issues with rodents with fewer than 40 days until classes resume.

At Hope, Principal John Hunt asked reporters from the Journal and Channel 10 to wait while he contacted someone from central office. After 30 minutes, Calabro brought the reporters to the middle school. There, an assistant principal said she had to reach out to central office and someone from facilities. She later told Calabro that she would have to schedule a tour. She told the same thing to the reporters.


Providence Journal: Providence Teachers Union on schools takeover: We’re ready to work with state

PROVIDENCE — Less than a week after the State granted the Department of Education control of Providence schools, the Providence Teachers Union issued a report Monday declaring its willingness to work with the state on reform.

“While we may disagree with some aspects of what has transpired in the last two months, let’s be crystal clear,” the report states. “The PTU — after extensive review of the Johns Hopkins
Institute for Education Policy’s report on the Providence Public School District, and after participating in all the listening sessions held by Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green — is committed to partnering with the state to improve Providence Public Schools for all children.”

“The spirit and the structure of any state plan must recognize that teachers and school staff are part of the solution, not a problem to be overcome,” it reads. “While teachers and our union have much to contribute and a great eagerness to contribute it, the State of Rhode Island has the ultimate responsibility for the success of this plan.”

The Department of Education’s decision to seek control of Providence schools — a move supported by Mayor Jorge Elorza — came in the wake of a damning report that highlighted a culture of low discipline, low expectations, low communication and low learning that permeated the district.


Providence Journal: Report calls understaffed R.I. nursing homes a ‘crisis’

Low wages, high staff turnover and regulatory shortcomings have combined to create a “resident care crisis in Rhode Island nursing homes,” according to a report released by the District 1199 SEIU New England union.

PROVIDENCE — Low wages, high staff turnover and regulatory shortcomings have combined to create a “resident care crisis in Rhode Island nursing homes,” according to a report released Thursday by the District 1199 SEIU New England union. A coalition of groups called for legislative action to remedy the situation during a press conference at Bannister Center.

“Rhode Island nursing homes are understaffed and Rhode Island caregivers are underpaid,” certified nursing assistant Shirley Lomba said. “When our residents have more time with their caregivers, they have better outcomes. The lack of staffing standards forces us to rush through the very basics of care and doesn’t give us any time to answer questions or even just chat with our residents; basic things that are necessary to maintain quality of life.”

The eight-page “Raise the Bar on Resident Care” report states that CNAs in Rhode Island earn $14.42 an hour, compared to $15.54 in Massachusetts and $16.18 in Connecticut, and that Rhode Island is just one of 11 states in the U.S. that does not have “staffing regulations that establish minimums on the number of hours of daily care a resident must receive.”


Turn to 10 WJAR: Martha’s Vineyard bus drivers approve contract ending strike

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. (AP) — Bus drivers on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts have approved a new contract after a nearly month long strike.

Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority drivers said on their Facebook support group Sunday that their unionized members overwhelmingly ratified the deal after a discussion and vote Sunday afternoon in Oak Bluffs.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, the labor group representing the workers, announced on Thursday the deal with Transit Connection Inc., the private company that operates the island’s public bus system.

The proposal includes pay raises, double pay for working holidays, union protections during layoffs and certain seniority rights, among other provisions.

The transit authority in a statement called it “an affordable and sustainable” agreement and apologized to customers.

Drivers walked off the job June 28 but the authority has continued to provide limited service.

AFL-CIO: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka just offered remarks ahead of the Democratic Debate in Detroit.



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Voices of Labor:

Picture: Pirate pitcher Luis Tiant reads about the end of the strike.

Members of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) went on strike. The strike lasted only two days, but inaugurated the NFLPA as a real union. The new agreement won the right for players to bargain through their own agents with the clubs, and minimum salaries were increased to $12,500 for rookies and $13,000 for veterans. Also, players’ pensions were improved and dental care was added to the players’ insurance plans. Players also gained the right to select representation on the league’s retirement board and the right to impartial arbitration for injury grievance. – 1970

A crippling fifty-day baseball player strike ended. The strike divided the season into two as owners adopted a split-season format with increased playoff participants. Purists were enraged, as several teams whose first-rate records somehow failed to qualify the for the postseason.  – 1981

The Great Shipyard Strike of 1999 ended after Steelworkers at Newport News Shipbuilding ratified a breakthrough agreement which nearly doubled pensions, increased security, ended inequality, and provided the highest wage increases in company and industry history to the nearly 10,000 workers at the yard. The strike lasted 15 weeks. – 1999



In the first half of the program, RI AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and local CLUW Chapter President, Maureen Martin presents the fruits of a months-long effort to collect, “period products,” for women who can’t afford them, to the RI Community Food Bank with members of the local CLUW chapter and an appreciative audience.

And in the second part of the show, Dr. Okurowski from the Occupational and Environmental Health Center sits down with Erica Hammond of the Institute for Labor Studies and Research to discuss the need for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the workplace; their ease of use with simple training, coverage under the “Good Samaritan,” law and efficacy when used on someone in the first minutes after a cardiac event.