E-news: January 30, 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.

Providence Journal: Senate leadership scales back proposal to raise R.I. minimum wage

PROVIDENCE — Despite the push in some quarters to match Massachusetts by putting Rhode Island on a path to a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the Senate Labor Committee was unwilling to go that far, approving instead an election-year bill to raise the $10.50 minimum by $1 on Oct. 1.

The committee approved the scaled-back bill on a 4-to-2 vote on the same day it held the first hearing of the year on the latest push by Rhode Island unions and low-income advocacy groups for a minimum-wage hike. The legislation now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

At the current $10.50 an hour, a minimum-wage worker in R.I. makes $420 for a 40-hour workweek, or $21,840 a year. Put another way: a $12.75 an hour minimum wage worker in Massachusetts today makes $90 a week more than a minimum wage worker in Rhode Island.

“For a low-income person, for a lot of people, $90 a week is a lot of money, and we are getting further and further behind our neighbors, particularly Massachusetts, and even Connecticut,″ George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, told the lawmakers. He said retail stores and fast-food outlets in Massachusetts “can find a way to make sure these people are being paid $12.75 [while] our people in R.I. are being paid $10.50.” -READ MORE

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AFL-CIO: PRESS RELEASE – January 22, 2020

BLS Numbers Are In—But They Don’t Tell the Whole Story

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release its annual report on union membership today. The numbers reflect both the tremendously difficult barriers workers seeking to form a union continue to face and the unmatched resilience of working people in our desire to win bargaining power on the job.

But make no mistake: 2019 was a year of undeniable momentum for collective action and collective bargaining. The following are just a few examples of the extraordinary ways workers stood together in 2019 to fight for our workplaces and communities:

  • Following 2018’s notable year of teacher activism, thousands of teachers went on strike in states like Colorado and West Virginia. In Chicago, CTU-AFT members walked out for a historic 11 days, winning a 16% salary increase over five years.
  • More than 30,000 Stop & Shop workers and UFCW members in New England fought and won a three-month battle for better pay and benefits.
  • Nearly 50,000 UAW members at General Motors Co. walked off the job on Sept. 16, starting one of the longest and largest automotive strikes in decades. After 40 days on the picket line, GM workers secured a contract with higher pay, no change to their health care plan, a defined path for temporary workers and improved time off policies.
  • 20,000 CWA members in the Southeast went on strike to protest unfair labor practices at AT&T, winning a new contract with higher wages and additional job security.
  • Graduate student employees across the country fought for basic workplace protections. Just weeks ago, at Harvard University, thousands of recently organized student employees and UAW members went on strike as they sought a first contract.


Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO Twitter:


The Week: One of the biggest crime waves in America isn’t what you think it is

In dollar terms, what group of Americans steals the most from their fellow citizens each year?I

The answer might surprise you: It’s employers, many of whom are committing what’s known as wage theft. It’s not just about underpaying workers. They’re not paying workers what they’re legally owed for the labor they put in.

It takes different forms: not paying workers the federal, state, or local minimum wage; not paying them overtime; or just monkeying around with job titles to avoid regulations.

No one knows exactly how big a problem wage theft is, but in 2012 federal and state agencies recovered $933 million for victims of wage theft. By comparison, all the property taken in all the robberies of all types in 2012, solved or unsolved, amounted to a little under $341 million.

Remember, that $933 million is just the wage theft that’s been addressed by authorities. The full scale of the problem is likely monumentally larger: Research suggests American workers are getting screwed out of $20 billion to $50 billion annually. -READ MORE

Labor 411:


Tweet of the Week:

“Thousands of our members work hard every day in America’s pork plants to help families across the country put food on the table. Increasing pork plant line speeds is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put consumers and workers in harm’s way.”
UFCW International President Marc Perrone

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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:

Samuel Gompers, the first AFL president, was born on this date in London, England. He emigrated to the U.S. as a youth. – 1850

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America received a charter from the American Federation of Labor to organize “every wage earner from the man who takes the bullock at the house until it goes into the hands of the consumer”. The union merged with the Retail Clerks International Union in 1979 to form the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. – 1987

The first U.S. unemployment compensation law was enacted in Wisconsin. – 1932

The first national coal miners’ union, the American Miners’ Association, was formed. – 1861


Next Week on Labor Vision:

In In preparation for tax season, our partners at United Way RI have made their experts available again this year, as Meg Chevailer, Senior Tax Consultant from the IRS , Kannyka Pouk, Director of Programs at the Center for Southeast Asians and Larry Warner, Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives from United Way of RI sit down with Erica Hammond to outline the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and Earned Income Tax Credit programs; and especially the eligibility requirements for how many people qualify for free tax preparation in Rhode Island.

Cox Channel 14 & FIOS Channel 33
Tuesday @ 7pm
Thursday @ 8pm
Saturday @ 5pm