E-NEWS: August 22, 2019

Rhode Island AFL-CIO Union Directory

An updated Union Directory listing union goods and services in R.I. can be found on our website at www.RhodeIslandAFLCIO.org under the “Resources” tab.

Here is the direct link—-> Union Directory

Please use this directory to find where you can buy union and use services in Rhode Island.

WPRI Channel 12: One-quarter of fatal opioid overdose victims in RI are construction workers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Health has found that construction workers make up nearly a quarter of all fatal opioid overdose victims in the state.

The data was collected from July 2016 to June 2018 and found those in the natural resources, construction and maintenance occupation category — trades like plumbers, fishermen and carpenters — had a much higher rate of opioid-involved overdose death.

The trend in Rhode Island is in line with what’s been observed nationally.

Rachel Scagos, a senior public health epidemiologist at the Department of Health, said experts are not exactly sure why those in the construction and extraction arenas are disproportionately affected.

“We’re still looking into it, but we definitely recommend that for injury prevention, if you are injured on a job site, do not use opioids to treat that injury,” she told Eyewitness News.

Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, believes part of the reason construction workers are more frequently impacted by fatal overdoses is because of the physically demanding nature of the job.

“We are working aggressively to change the culture because it isan industry where toughness and perseverance dominate,” Sabitoni said in a statement. “There is pressure to get back to work even if you are injured or in pain. Sick days and time off for health care are often rare. Appointments need to be scheduled after work which can be difficult, especially with overtime or night shifts.”  READ MORE

Providence Journal: Construction workers prone to overdose deaths in R.I.

PROVIDENCE — The construction industry leads the way in Rhode Island when it comes to fatal overdoses, according to the state Department of Health.

Data presented to Governor Gina Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force shows that a quarter — or 140 of the 569 — overdose deaths in Rhode Island from July 2016 through June 2018 came from fields that include carpentry, laborers, construction workers, electricians and commercial fishing. Of those deaths, 20 percent were in the construction industry alone.

Eighty percent of the fatal overdoses in the construction and maintenance fields involved fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl use contributed to 75 percent of the overdose deaths in Rhode Island overall, with cocaine contributing to 37 percent. Alcohol and benzodiazepines, psychoactive drugs commonly known to treat anxiety and insomnia, each contributed to 23 percent of the fatal overdoses.

Nearly three-quarters of those to die overall were men, with the second highest proportion of overdose death coming from the service industry — cooks, bartenders, barbers, maintenance workers — followed by those in the management, business, science, and arts fields.

The findings did not come as a surprise to Justin Kelley, business representative for the Rhode Island Painters Union, District Council Local 195. It’s a trend that’s been playing out nationally.


AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Electrical Workers

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

Name of Union: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Mission: The IBEW is committed to organizing electrical workers across North America and promoting on-the-job excellence, good wages and benefits, a safe workplace, and a voice on the job.

Current Leadership of Union: Lonnie R. Stephenson serves as international president of IBEW. Born and raised in Rock Island, Illinois, Stephenson began as an apprentice inside wireman in 1975 and became a member of Local 145. He rose through the ranks and was elected business manager in 1996. He was appointed international representative for the sixth district in 2002 and appointed as international vice president in 2010, winning election to the position the following year. Stephenson was appointed international president in 2015 and elected to a full five-year term at the 2016 IBEW International Convention.

Kenneth W. Cooper serves as international secretary-treasurer, and the IBEW has 11 international vice presidents: Thomas Reid, Michael P. Monahan, Michael Welsh, Brian G. Malloy, Brian Thompson, David J. Ruhmkorff, Steven M. Speer, Jerry Bellah, John J. O’Rourke, Brent E. Hall and Curtis E. Henke.

The IBEW is governed by its International Executive Council, which has nine members: Christopher Erikson, Joseph P. Calabro, Myles J. Calvey, James Burgham, William W. Riley, Frank J. Furco III, Dean Wine, Patrick Lavin and Ross Galbraith.

Current Number of Members: 775,000 active and retired-READ MORE

UFCW: What is a Union Contract

In a non-union setting, the employer makes all the rules. They may promise to listen to employee input, but at the end of the day, they aren’t required to take any of that input seriously and ultimately still get to decide what the final policies are. But in a union setting, the rules are negotiated by the union and the employer with the union representing the best interests of the workers and the employer representing the best interests of the company.

The union has the right, as well as the legal obligation, to speak with one voice for all the employees that make up what is known as the “bargaining unit,” or employees covered by a particular contract. When we talk about having a “union contract,” what we mean is the official rules that have been agreed upon by the employer and the union, and that have also been voted on and accepted by the majority of the union membership covered by the contract.

How do contracts help a workplace run smoothly?

Contracts can help ease possible tensions between you and your managers by making it really clear what the agreed upon rules are, as well as what to do when they are violated. Confronting your manager one on one can end up feeling like a personal attack or criticism with someone you have to work with every day and maintain a good relationship with. In the end, many people just decide to let minor problems go rather than risk creating an uncomfortable situation or even just seeming like they aren’t a team player.


VOX: I was skeptical of unions. Then I joined one.

A union isn’t just right for Vox Media, but for everyone.

On November 17, 2017, right after the Vox Media editorial staff started a push to unionize, I sent out my worst tweets of all time. “I am against #VoxUnion,” I wrote in one of the tweets. I wrote in another, “Vox Media is a generous company (unusually so for digital media), and some people want to take advantage of that.”

“I am generally fine with and even supportive of unions,” I concluded. “Just not this one.”

I wasn’t convinced, based on my experience, that we needed a union to ensure the company treated us well. And I was worried that “lazy” or bad workers could take advantage of union protections to stay on the job — something I feel that police unions, for instance, have helped do with even the worst cops.

Almost immediately, I was barraged by much of lefty Twitter with a huge ratio. A few people tried to genuinely debate me, explaining that unions could be good for even workers who feel they are well off. But it was mostly insult after insult, and after a while, I stopped looking at my notifications.


Save Our Apprenticeships: A Conversation with North America’s Building Trades Unions Chief of Staff Mike Monroe

Tim talks to NABTU Chief of Staff Mike Monroe about a Department of Labor proposal that would undermine world-class apprenticeships in the construction industry.-LISTEN to PODCAST


“There is always a large horizon….There is much to be done….I am not going to be doing it! It is up to you to contribute some small part to a program of human betterment for all time.” —Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, 1933–1945


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House of Hope Event: Wednesday, September 11


Providence Central Federated Council Annual Fall “Fun Fest”

known as Hot Dogs and Beer Fundraising Event

When: Wednesday, September 18

Where: Scenic parking lot of UFCW, 278 Silver Spring St. Providence from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Details: Contributions are not necessary, But, if you are able to make a contribution, please do so. We need to support our friends who support issues critical to our members livelihood. Local unions can make contributions up to $1,000.


Voices of Labor:

The short-lived National Labor Union (U.S.) was formed on this date and called for the 8-hour workday. The union, led by William H. Sylvis, was the first American labor union to unite skilled and unskilled workers (preceding the Industrial Workers of the World by nearly 40 years). At its height, the union had 640,000 members. – 1866

The first edition of the IWW Little Red Songbook was published. Since the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the IWW, songs have played a big part in spreading the message of the One Big Union (an idea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among trade unionists to unite the interests of workers and offer solutions to all labor problems). – 1909

This day marked the founding of the American Federation of Government Employees, following a decision by the National Federation of Federal Employees (later to become part of the International Association of Machinists) to leave the AFL. – 1932



Kathy McElroy, President of SEIU Local 580, representing workers at DCYF, sits down with Erica Hammond to talk about the recent hearing about ongoing issues in the department, the new hires to alleviate the under-staffing, and hopefully a new approach by legislators and elected officials on how to treat those forced into the worst of circumstances.

And in the second half of the show, Mike Whittaker and Dave Cookson of Beacon Mutual Life Insurance Co. sit down with Bob Delaney to talk about the dangers of heat-related illnesses while working on the job. And even while summer may be waning, everyone should still be vigilant for the signs and be careful on the job site.