E-news: January 9, 2020

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.

Informational Picket Join Teamsters Local 251 to support school bus workers as they speak out against Ocean State/STA’s unlawful, abusive behavior at the East Providence School Committee Meeting!

The Public’s Radio: Commentary: Time For RI’s General Assembly To Raise Minimum Wage

The 2020 Rhode Island General Assembly session kicks off on Tuesday. The Public’s Radio political analyst Scott Mackay says this would be a good year to make life better for working people.

by Scott MacKay

The Rhode Island business and conservative community loves to assert that the Ocean State is too generous to poor and low-income workers. The claim is that the state’s social safety net of programs attracts those who don’t pull their weight to settle in the state and become a burden on taxpayers.

This trope makes for endless talk show piffle and campaign rhetoric. But it isn’t true. As John Adams said famously, facts are stubborn things. What they show is that in major policies that help the poor, and particularly the working poor, Rhode Island is well behind its New England neighbors.

Where to start? The minimum wage is a good place. That’s what low-skill workers in retail, fast-food industries and some small businesses are often paid. Massachusetts has begun a march to a $15 an hour floor wage that kicks in in 2023. That’s more than twice as much as the federal minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 an hour for a decade.


The Narragansett Times: RI People’s History Museum to open in Peace Dale

PEACE DALE — This year, Rhode Islanders will have the chance to experience local history from the people’s perspective.

On May 1, the RI People’s History Museum will be opening its doors in Peace Dale for the first time, providing “opportunities for people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for.”

This museum would not be possible without the support of the community, nor the organizing efforts of The Collective. The local organization, which currently operates as a bookstore, infoshop, lending library, reading room and community meeting space located in Peace Dale, now looks to broader horizons of educating people on the unique history and struggles of Rhode Islanders.

Rather than looking at history from the perspective of the victors and leaders, the history of the Ocean State will be told from the perspective and stories of normal, every-day people.

The inspiration behind the museum was due in part to the number of community activists and organizers that come to speak at the Collective throughout the year, according to Sarah Markey, one of the four women who owns and operates the organization.

“We realized that there’s a history of people coming together in Rhode Island to fight for progress,” Markey said.

-See Photos

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

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Office and Professional Employees.

Name of Union: Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU)

Mission: “To improve the lives of working families by bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our communities. Acting as a strong and united voice in the workplace and in the communities in which we live, OPEIU seeks to bring the benefits of representation to all working people and their families.”

Current Leadership of Union: Richard Lanigan serves as president of OPEIU. He was first appointed president by the OPEIU executive board in 2015 and was elected to the position in 2016. Lanigan worked his way through college as a union member before joining OPEIU Local 153 in 1980. After law school, he served as assistant to the OPEIU general counsel. In 1994, he was elected both as secretary-treasurer of Local 153 and joined the international executive board as vice president. Mary Mahoney has served as secretary-treasurer since 2010. OPEIU has 17 vice presidents.

Number of Members: 103,000.


Unions 4 Workers:

Meany Labor Archive:


Quote of the week

“You can train people all day long, but if they don’t have good jobs at the end of that training, they’re not going to be able to make a living and support their families.”AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler (IBEW) on the future of work at #CES2020

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Union Member Candidate Program:

If you are a Rhode Island union member who is considering running for municipal or state elective office in 2020, or who might want to serve as a campaign manager, or campaign worker, you are invited to an Open House on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 5:30PM, at the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 328 Union Hall, 278 Silver Spring Street, Providence, RI. You can register online at  https://actionnetwork.org/events/ri-afl-cio-union-candidate-open-house.

*Before registering, please make sure that you discuss your interest with your local union leadership prior to the event and get their approval to attend. This is mandatory!

Sign-up for the next Leadership for a Future class.
The application is open and the deadline to apply is January 31, 2020.
Link to application: https://www.riilsr.org/leaf-application


Voices in Labor:

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began on this day. Ten of the eleven deaths on the job came when safety netting beneath the site, the first-ever use of such equipment, failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen other workers were saved by the net over the course of construction. They became members of the (informal) Halfway to Hell Club. – 1933

Mary Kenney O’Sullivan (1864-1943) was born on this date in Hannibal, Missouri. O’Sullivan was the first American Federation of Labor (AFL) woman organizer. She also organized the Woman’s Bookbinder Union in 1880 and was a founder of the National Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) in 1903. – 1864

The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee ended the “Great Steel Strike”. Some 350,000 to 400,000 steelworkers had been striking for more than three months, demanding union recognition. The strike failed. – 1920


Next Week on Labor Vision:

In the first half of the program, Stephanie Mandeville from NEARI and Kathy McElroy of SEIU Local 580 sit down with Erica Hammond for the “Women in Leadership,” program of our Women at Work series, talking briefly about their unions, who they represent, the role they play, and any specific issues or goals they are working to achieve. Then they will close with tips for women in labor interested in taking on leadership roles.

And in the second part of the show, Jay Walsh from the American Association of University Professors at URI, will sit down with Erica to give an overview of his union’s members and what they fight for; and he’ll be looking forward at the new appointments to the university’s Board of Trustees in February and offering his comments.

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