e-news: february 20, 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: House votes to raise R.I. minimum wage by $1

If signed into law, the increase to $11.50 an hour would go into effect Oct. 1.

Rhode Island’s minimum wage will likely be rising to $11.50 an hour next fall after the state House of Representatives Thursday voted to increase it by $1.

The Senate passed a nearly identical version of the legislation last week. If signed into law the $1 hike would go into effect Oct. 1.

Many progressives have argued that, after the House rejected a Senate-passed increase last year, a $1 increase is not enough help for low-wage workers and leaves Rhode Island behind neighboring states.

But all five dissenting votes came from Republicans, who argued the steadily rising minimum wage threatens to hurt employers and could lead to job losses.

“I know that the businesses are the bad guys and they should suffer all the ills of society, but the actual impact on business is very simple: the minimum wage is the lowest and when that goes up every other wage above that goes up as well,” said Rep. Michael Chippendale, R-Foster. “My expenses just went up because the minimum wage went up… and now we have to compensate for that and here is how we do that. We fire 20% of the people who work for us, because we can’t afford to pay them.”

On the other side of the debate, Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, D-Providence, voted for the bill despite wishing lawmakers would put the state on a path to a $15 and hour minimum wage.


Michigan Advance: Unions say 18-year high for major work stoppages shows workers are ‘fed up

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says major work stoppages in 2019 involved the highest number of workers from around the country in 18 years.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 425,500 workers involved in major work stoppages that began in 2019.

Major work stoppages are defined as both worker-initiated strikes and employer-initiated lockouts that involve 1,000 or more workers and last at least one shift by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More than 270,000 of those workers were in the educational services industry, but the largest stoppage by lost workdays was the United Automobile Workers’ (UAW) strike last fall against General Motors (GM), which involved 46,000 workers.

Trumka said the strike statistics represent nothing less than a sea change in America.

“Working people — completely fed up with an economic and political system that does not work for us — are turning to each other and using every tool at our disposal to win a better deal,” said Trumka.

Trumka also applauded some workers’ courage to initiate strikes.


NBC News: Kickstarter workers vote to form first union in tech industry

Employees at crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted Tuesday to form a union, the first of its kind in the technology industry, after an 18-month battle with the company’s management.

Kickstarter United will now be formally recognized by the management after a vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, in which workers voted 36 to 47 in favor of unionizing. It is the first union comprised of white-collar, full-time employees in the technology industry.

“What Kickstarter employees are organizing a union for is the agency to challenge management when management is failing the community,” said Clarissa Redwine, one of three union organizers who say they were fired or pressured to resign by the company in September. “Workers want to be able to participate in critical product decisions without retaliation, to change how the company handles sexual harassment, how it addresses gender discrimination, and they want to take on future challenges with a healthy power structure.”

The vote comes after a year and a half of internal organizing during which at least two lead union members, Redwine and Taylor Moore, were fired and at least two other workers who helped organize the union drive left after what they described as a tense and, at times, intimidating environment fostered by the management. -READ MORE


“The tech sector represents a new frontier for union organizing, and OPEIU is excited to represent one of the first tech groups to successfully win collective bargaining rights and to be part of the labor movement’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of tech employees everywhere.”Richard Lanigan, OPEIU president and Local 153 business manager

The American Prospect: Some Striking Numbers

My friend Joe McCartin, the terrific labor historian who also runs Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, has been known to argue that the level of strikes is a better index of labor’s health than the percentage of workers enrolled in unions—particularly since enrollment is greatly limited by the deficiencies of labor law.

By Joe’s metrics, the data on strikes that the Bureau of Labor Statistics released last week reveal a labor movement with a lot more potential energy—and kinetic energy, too—than the membership numbers reveal. During the two-year period of 2018-2019, the BLS reported, a yearly average of 455,400 workers engaged in major work stoppages, which, as the Economic Policy Institute pointed out, the highest two-year average since 1983-1984. It was in the mid-eighties that workers generally stopped striking, reacting to President Reagan’s mass firing of striking air traffic controllers, which led many large private-sector employers to fire their striking workers, too (for which required reading is Joe’s Collision Course, his account of the controllers’ strike and firing).


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Voices in Labor:

After a 10-month strike, rank-and-file miners at the Pittston Coal Company ratified a new contract. Ninety-eight miners and a minister occupied a Pittston Coal plant in Carbo, Virginia inaugurating the year-long strike. While a one-month Soviet coal strike dominated the U.S. media, the year-long Pittston strike received almost no media coverage. – 1990

1,200 rallied in support of the striking American Federation of Musicians local 76-493, forcing the cancellation of the opening night Disney production of “Beauty & the Beast” at  the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, Washington. -1997

Nearly 19,000 teachers in West Virginia walked out of the classrooms for the second time in a year. This time it was not about pay raises, but a Republican effort to open charter schools in the state. The bill was killed, but teachers remained on strike for a second day to ensure legislatures did not bring the bill back. – 2019


Next Week on Labor Vision:

In the first half of the show, one from late last year that has growing importance now, Sen. Sandra Cano (D) Pawtucket, sits down with Thom Cahir to talk about the need to count every person in Rhode Island during the upcoming 2020 census; especially those in under-counted populations, or fear losing a congressional seat and the funding for vital programs that goes with it.

And in the second half of the show, UFCW Local 328 Secretary-Treasurer Domenic Pontarelli, and Lead Organizer Sam Marvin sit down with Erica Hammond to discuss the ongoing troubles with Durham School Services and their unwillingness to recognize, negotiate, or pay a fair wage to bus drivers, monitors or aides in the Cumberland school district.

Cox Channel 14 & FIOS Channel 33
Tuesday @ 7pm
Thursday @ 8pm
Saturday @ 5pm
More Info on Labor Vision:
Website: http://www.LaborVisionRI.org
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Twitter: @LaborVisionRI
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YouTube: LaborVisionTV1