E-news: October 24, 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.

Providence Journal: Journal argues for Sunday OT exemption

CRANSTON — Union leaders Thursday urged the Raimondo administration to reject a request from the owners of The Providence Journal to exempt the daily newspaper industry from state laws requiring overtime pay for Sunday and holiday work.

Like most other Rhode Island workers, newspaper employees — from reporters to press operators — receive time-and-a-half for working on Sundays and holidays, something Journal President and Publisher Peter Meyer told state labor officials costs the company $300,000 per year.

To relieve that burden, company executives asked Gov. Gina Raimondo last year to add the seven-day-a-week newspapers to the businesses that are exempt from the overtime rules, a list that includes airport car rental workers, taxi drivers and 24-hour gas station attendants.

And this year Raimondo’s Department of Labor and Training proposed a newspaper exemption along with one for round-the-clock “animal-care facilities.”

But in a public hearing on the proposed rule changes, Journal employees and union leaders said the proposal was a blatant attempt by Journal parent GateHouse Media to line the pockets of executives and shareholders at the expense of workers.

“This proposal, in its simplest language, is cruel and selfish,” said George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “To bring this request before you … shows the kind of soulless thinking that goes on at the corporate level, and this is corporate greed at its absolute most … It’s almost like saying, give us an opportunity to do wage theft.”-READ MORE

Providence Business News: Raise helps some health workers

A 91-cent-an-hour pay increase for approximately 3,000 people who work directly with those with developmental disabilities in the state is welcomed, though more is needed, say many in the industry.

Mandated by the R.I Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, the $9.5 million fiscal 2020 increase for those workers went into effect at the beginning of this month, raising wages from about $12.27 an hour to about $13.18.

It comes as many other workers at nursing homes and hospitals hope for pay increases of their own. Direct-care health workers have often been frustrated by Statehouse budget battles where reimbursement rates have been curbed or held steady, rather than boosted.

“It’s a very good start, but it’s definitely not enough; it barely brings us to entry-level [pay],” said Nancy Tumidajski, a direct-support professional who works at the ARC of Blackstone Valley.

Tumidajski, 60, has worked for 28 years at the Blackstone ARC. She says her love of the job keeps her there, but many of her peers have opted to work in Massachusetts, where pay for the same job is higher.

“I think they really need to get us to at least $15. It’s gotten so hard; we’re so short-staffed. We have a lot of full-time positions with benefits open, but we have people go to Massachusetts all the time,” she said.

Emmanuel Falck, elected organizer of the Service Employees International Union District 1199 New England, which represents some direct-support professionals, said low pay impacts people with developmental disabilities who depend on those who help them.


Press Release:

AFL-CIO: These European Corporations Abuse the Rights of Working People in America’s Southern StatesThe Double Standard at Work: European Corporate Investment and Workers’ Rights in the American South” cites key case studies to reveal practices in the U.S. South

Read the report here: aflcio.org/double-standard-report

European corporations are two-faced when it comes to respecting working people’s freedom of association and workers’ rights, argues a new report by the AFL-CIO and supported by the European Trade Union Confederation.

The report, The Double Standard at Work: European Corporate Investment and Workers’ Rights in the American South,” uses several case studies to portray how some European corporations have exploited weak labor rights laws in Southern states in the United States, while boasting about having good relationships with trade unions and upholding standards for working people in western European nations.


AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO’s Affiliates: Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.

Name of Union: Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA)

Mission: To elevate and maintain the rights and advance and safeguard the economic and working conditions of its members for their better protection and advancement.

Current Leadership of Union: Marshall Ainley has been MEBA’s president since January 2014. A 1982 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, he worked with the Military Sealift Command at sea and ashore for 10 years and earned his chief engineer’s license and Group 1 membership in the MEBA. He sailed with Maersk as chief engineer for the nine years before his election as MEBA president. Bill Van Loo has served as MEBA’s secretary-treasurer since 2006. Previously, he was elected twice to the position of MEBA branch agent in Baltimore and has served as a delegate at nine national MEBA conventions. He is a third-generation member who graduated from the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School in 1983 and sailed for 17 years before beginning his service as an official in 2002. In addition to Ainley and Van Loo, MEBA’s five-person executive board includes our coastal vice presidents: Executive Vice President Adam Vokac, Gulf Coast Vice President Erin Bertram and Atlantic Coast Vice President Jason Callahan.

Members Work As: Primarily engine and deck officers on U.S.-flagged vessels, but we also represent shoreside professionals at ports, offices and in the service industries.

Industries Represented:The maritime workforce.


CNBC: The number of workers on strike hits the highest since the 1980s

With unemployment rates at record lows, the number of people who have gone on strike in the U.S. has soared.

The number of striking workers ballooned to nearly 500,000 in 2018, up from about 25,000 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the largest number of people who have walked out on work since the mid-1980s.

As employment numbers have rapidly risen over the 10-year expansion, wages have struggled to keep up. And as the labor market tightens, workers are becoming more confident about striking for better salaries and benefits.

In September, workers for General Motors walked out in what has now become the company’s longest strike in decades. The strike began after the auto manufacturer could not reach a contract agreement with labor union United Auto Workers. The walkout is estimated to have cost General Motors upwards of $2 billion, according to Bank of America.


Bloomberg: This Looks Like the Start of a Great Time for Unions

The tight labor market in the U.S. is leading to a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital, giving more leverage to workers. This manifests itself in a variety of ways.For instance, workers are less reluctant to leave their jobs in search of better pay or working conditions. This is showing up in the rate of workers quitting their jobs at the highest level since 2001. It also gives unions the confidence to go on strike in hopes of getting a better deal, as we’ve seen with the United Auto Workers in its negotiations with General Motors Co.In this environment, the rationale for joining a union hasn’t looked this good in a very long time.

Unionized workers tend to receive higher wages and greater benefits than their non-unionized peers. Who wouldn’t want that? There are, of course tradeoffs with being in a union: loss of flexibility, membership dues, contract negotiations with employers that can come up empty, and periods without work in fallow economic times or during strikes. But all else being equal, a good union job that lowers the risk of unemployment would be the best of both worlds for many workers.


Labor 411:

Everybody gets giddy as the calendar creeps toward November. The scary costumes, the jack-o-lanterns… what’s not to love about Halloween? As you’re stocking up to satisfy the neighborhood ghouls, remember that candy is dandy and ethical is preferable. The sweetest treats are those made by companies that treat their workers fairly and give them a voice on the job. So, whether your favorites are chocolates, suckers, sweets or sours, Labor 411 has you covered. Let’s all sweeten our way to a stronger America this Halloween!


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UPCOMING EVENTS:                                                        


Voices in Labor:

Postal workers Joseph Cursseen and Thomas Morris died after inhaling anthrax at the Brentwood mail sorting center in Washington, D.C. Other postal workers were also made ill. Letters containing the deadly spores had been addressed to U.S. Senate offices and media outlets. – 2001

Black and white teamsters, salesmen and packers struck together in New Orleans, paralyzing commerce throughout the city and quickly turning into a General Strike. Workers were fighting for a 10-hour work day, overtime pay, and a preferential union shop (a situation in which the employer goes first to the union when seeking to hire new employees). They were soon joined by non-industrial workers, such as musicians, clothing workers, clerks, utility workers, streetcar drivers and printers. – 1892

The first U.S. federal minimum wage – 25 cents an hour – took effect, thanks to enactment of the Depression-era Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law required an increase to 30 cents an hour one year from this date, and to 40 cents an hour on this date in 1945.  The FLSA also established the 40-hour workweek and forbade child labor in factories. – 1938

The AFL-CIO readmitted the Teamsters Union, which had been expelled in 1957. The 35-member executive council of the AFL-CIO voted unanimously to readmit the 1.6-million-member Teamsters Union despite the federal investigation into the union’s links to organized crime. – 1987



In the first half of the show, Rachel Flum, Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute, and Andrew Schiff, Chief Executive Officer of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank sit down with Erica Hammond to talk about the growing wealth gap in our community and what can be done to combat it.

And in the second half of the show, Bob Delaney sits down with Chief Judge Robert Ferrieri of the R.I. Workers’ Compensation Court to talk about the upcoming R.I. Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference 2019, taking place Nov. 14-15 at The Graduate hotel in Providence.