e-news: february 13, 2020

Subject: RI AFL-CIO ENews: Prov Teachers Union President Q and A; Opinion by Captain of Middletown FF on staffing; Revenue for RI From: Rhode Island AFL-CIO Reply To: info@riaflcio.com

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 Business News: Five Questions with Maribeth Calabro, Providence Teachers Union president1. The Providence public schools are now under R.I. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education control. What changes have teachers observed?

At this point we have had two interim superintendents, [Frances] Gallo and Dorothy Smith. We are waiting for our long-term superintendent to be named and the work of collaboration on a strategic plan … to begin.

2. What role does the union have in determining what happens? I think the union is poised to have a significant role in determining what happens going forward. For far too long we have sat at the negotiations table with innovative and forward-thinking ideas that would improve schools for students and were told time and time again, “You don’t represent kids.” To be given this opportunity is an amazing chance for our teachers … to show that we have nontraditional, 21st-century ideas to spark the interests, energy, creativity and intelligence of our wonderfully diverse and dynamic students.

3. Teacher absences from the classroom, including through sick days, have been cited by R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green as a concern. If the absentee rate is beyond the norm for a similar city district, what is ­happening? Our absences were not reported like other districts. That being said, I have said from the beginning when this was reported that if there are teachers who are abusing sick days, then it is incumbent upon the district to do [its] due diligence and reprimand accordingly. Abuse of sick time is not OK. It is not good for kids, colleagues, our schools or our district. We also need to address the number of sick buildings we have, stress and lack of supports for teachers that may decrease the number of absences. -READ MORE
The Newport Daily News: Guest View: Increase in Middletown Fire Department staffing is long overdue

Guest views are the opinion of the writer.

The number of firefighters available for emergency response has been the same in Middletown for 40 years! Five firefighters (one officer & four firefighters). However, the number of emergency calls has more than tripled! Back then there were six firefighters on each shift. The minimum staffing was one officer and four firefighters. This left one officer and four firefighters to respond to calls. If there was a fire everyone responded, and dispatch was taken over by the police (in the same building back then).

Thirty years ago, the town purchased their first aerial ladder, a 1989 Maxim. With that purchase, the fire chief and the town wanted to be able to help staff this new apparatus and started to add personnel. In 1990 the minimum staffing increased to six firefighters (one officer and five firefighters) when the first ladder truck went into service. There were seven firefighters on each shift. However, one firefighter had to perform the duties of dispatcher, therefore was not available to respond to calls. The town then started to increase the shift size to eight firefighters. The town added two firefighters that worked swing shifts, with the intention of hiring two more in the following year. This would have made four eight man shifts, an officer, six firefighters, and a dispatcher. So, what happened? The town never agreed to raise the minimum staffing, and because of budgetary constraints, the fire department funding for staffing was cut. -READ MORE

Patch: East Providence Man Honored With National ‘Never Quit’ Award

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI – An East Providence man helping to make meals a little brighter at the Rhode Island Veterans Home has been recognized with a national award from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Mark Simonson, a cook’s helper at the veterans home in Bristol, was honored with the AFSCME’s Never Quit Service Award for taking great pride in their work and doing the extra step to make lives better around them.

The AFSCME said Simonson, a member of AFSCME, AFL-CIO Local 904, attempts to spice up the daily routine of the Foxtrot unit in the veterans home with extra touches on desserts, musical serenades for residents and preparing an extra snack or drink whenever residents want them. He also acts to comfort many of them as their health declines, saying he will provide water and hold the hands of the residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease while they are on a morphine drip during the final stages of their lives.

The 61-year-old is taking courses toward a degree in business health care management at the Eastern Gateway Community College through AFSCME’s Free College Benefit.

Revenue for Rhode Island.

Washington Post: There’s a little-known employment contract provision enabling billions of dollars in wage theft each year

It’s no secret that the balance of power in America’s workplaces has shifted from employees to employers in recent decades. Among other things, business leaders and lawmakers have worked in tandem to weaken unions, concentrate hiring power among fewer employers and keep wages low.

But employers have put their thumbs on the scale in less obvious ways as well. A new brief from the National Employment Law Project, a legal and workers rights group, underscores one of them: forced arbitration, which requires workers to settle disputes with their employer in the office of a private mediator, rather than in a court of law. The NELP brief, by staff attorney Hugh Baran, estimates that forced arbitration clauses cost low-paid workers $12.6 billion in stolen wages in 2019.

“People look at this issue as kind of a procedural one,” Baran said in an interview. “But the reality is it’s a substantive economic issue.”

Baran’s brief concerns wage theft: when employers steal money from their workers by, for instance, not paying them overtime, requiring them to perform their duties off the clock, or not paying the minimum wage. -READ MORE

ForConstructionPros.com: CPWR Tools for Responding to Opioid Impact on Construction Workers

Three new opportunities to learn about preventing opioid abuse in the industry where construction workers are seven times more likely to die of an overdose than in other professions.

The construction industry has been hit particularly hard by opioids, with state-level studies finding that construction workers are six to seven times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than workers in other professions.

The Center for Construction Research and Training, CPWR, is playing a leading role in helping our industry respond to this danger, including two new resources:

  • A training program, intended to be used by experienced North America’s Building Trades Unions instructors, that is designed to increase awareness of opioids and decrease stigma associated with opioid use. The training program is available now, launched in a beta version that is under evaluation. CPWR anticipates this program will be refined in the coming months, so if you download it, please check back for improved versions.
  • The latest CPWR Quarterly Data Report, which looks at overdoses on job sites, the prevalence of prescribed opioid use and drug abuse, and the association of work-related injuries with prescription opioid use. Among the findings: between 2011 and 2017, one in four construction workers with work-related injuries used prescribed opioid pain relievers.
  • Also, the CPWR website offers resources with information about preventing opioid use. Their webinar this month focuses on this crucial topic as well.

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***Remember to shop for your gifts, candy, and flowers at Stop & Shop, Shaws and EastSide Marketplace where there are union workers.


Tweet of the Week:

“We will fight this in the courts. We will fight this in Congress. We will fight this on every front and with every fiber of our being.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) at AFGE’s Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference regarding the DOD’s attacks on collective bargaining.

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Voices in Labor:

The worst industrial disaster in Staten Island history occurred when gas trapped inside a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank exploded and blew the concrete roof off the tank, killing 40 workers. Long opposed by homeowners, Distrigas’ plan to transport and store LNG near populated areas was abandoned after the incident, with the mayor and federal agencies reversing their original support of the project. – 1973

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) founded the Building and Construction Trades Department as a way to overcome the jurisdictional conflicts occurring in the building and construction unions. – 1908

General Motors recognized the United Auto Workers (UAW) following a 44-day sit-down strike involving 48,000 GM workers. Two months later, company guards beat up UAW leaders at the River Rouge, Michigan plant. – 1937


Next Week on Labor Vision:

In preparation for tax season, and in our efforts to reach as many Rhode Islanders who may want to take advantage of this free service, our partners at United Way RI have made their experts available again this year, as Larry Warner, Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives at UWRI, Meg Chevailer, Senior Tax Consultant from the IRS, and Kannyka Pouk, Director of Programs at the Center for Southeast Asians 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 in Rhode Island. It’s far more than people think.

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