E-news: August 13, 2020

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.

NEARI / RIFTHP: Joint Letter sent to the Governor, RIDE & RIDOH

NEARI and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers & Health Professionals, in a joint letter sent Friday, called on the governor, RIDE, & RIDOH to begin the school year with distance learning. And that should start no earlier than September 9 to allow the necessary preparation for distance learning to be successful.

Additionally: NEARI and RIFTHP educators and support professionals cannot return to unsafe school buildings for face-to-face instruction until districts and the state can meet these 8 necessary criteria to protect all students, families, and educators:

1. A statewide Covid-19 R-value that indicates the virus is under control and will stop spreading
2. Rapid testing and response are proven and widely accessible
3. Successful air quality inspections of every classroom and workspace prior to school opening as required by law and regulation
4. Masks required for all students, staff, and visitors
5. Social distancing and desks spaced at least six feet apart
6. True stable groups of 15 in alignment with current RI social gathering requirements
7. Health precautions such as daily temperature checks for students, staff, and visitors
8. An adequate and safe means of transportation for all students entering and leaving our schools as required

Watch the press conference carried live earlier today on FB by WPRI 12: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2437137913253668Read the letter at http://neari.org/Community/Return-to-School-2020

WJAR Channel 10: ‘We have to keep people safe’: Warwick School Committee defends distance learning vote

WARWICK, R.I. (WJAR) — Warwick’s School Committee chairwoman stood her ground Wednesday, defending a 4 -1 vote to start the school year with distance learning.

“We have to keep people safe and alive,” said Karen Bachus. “One death is one death too many.”

At her weekly press briefing Wednesday, Gov. Gina Raimondo had harsh words for the school committee members, who took the vote at a monthly meeting Tuesday.

“They just threw in the towel on those kids and I think the children of Warwick deserve better,” the governor said.

Warwick schools, the state’s third-largest district, submitted several re-opening plans to the state, but none included a full, in-person learning scenario.

Bachus said that option was not feasible for the district, due to issues with space, cash and poor air circulation. She estimated it would cost about $15 million to hire more staff and purchase enough cleaning supplies in order to bring students back safely.

Read more here.

RICOSH FaceBook Zoom Event

AFT Voices: Support staff are the infrastructure of the world

During this pandemic, it has become very obvious who the essential workers are. Let me be clear. I am not criticizing mayors, university presidents or school superintendents. But amid the COVID-19 contagion, we would be nowhere without custodians, paraprofessionals, food service workers, administrative assistants and school bus drivers. School and college tech support workers alone have kept networks connected and students engaged in their studies, and they will become ever more important as we reopen schools.

In the United States, 370,000 school and college support staff who belong to my union, the American Federation of Teachers, joined their peers around the world in stepping up to face this public health crisis. They have cooked, assembled and delivered millions of meals; deep-cleaned schools and universities; ordered and distributed supplies; tutored; provided reading support and physical education online; conducted virtual study halls; and driven mobile hotspots to our most vulnerable children. They have risked their lives — and some have died — doing their jobs.

Read more here.

Bloomberg: Do-It-Yourself Contact Tracing for 1.3 Million: A Union Jumps In

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is stepping in where the government has failed, running its own coronavirus contact-tracing program for 1.3 million members.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak hit, the union has sent agents into grocery stores, meatpacking plants and food-processing facilities. They talk to workers and comb work schedules to figure out who might have been exposed. Then, they notify the employer’s human resources department and direct workers to free testing sites, some provided by the union.

The program fills a void left by the Trump administration, which has failed to create a national test-and-trace regimen — and is an active advertisement for a labor movement that’s been waning for decades. Local health departments, which usually perform the function, have been overwhelmed by a disease that has sickened more than 4.8 million Americans and killed more than 158,000. And in any event, testing delays make contact tracing impractical in many areas.

In such disarray, workers must fend for themselves, said Marc Perrone, international president of the union. Read more here.

People’s World: Letter Carriers union files nationwide grievance against mail slowdown scheme

WASHINGTON—The Letter Carriers union has filed a national grievance, an unusual move, against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who took over the agency, promptly fired 21-31 top staffers, and imposed shutdown actions and an overtime ban that slows the mail down.

The union’s grievance, which also demands mandated talks over DeJoy’s moves, comes just after 84 lawmakers from both parties wrote to him denouncing the shutdowns and work ban, and as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted DeJoy’s schemes in a weekend press conference via Zoom.

And Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chair of a House subcommittee that deals with postal service legislation, tweeted DeJoy’s slowdown scheme “is absolutely an attempt to interfere with the (November) election.”

“One way to suppress (mail-in) votes is to slow down delivery of the mail,” Connolly tweeted.

“NALC initiated a national-level grievance regarding the Postal Service’s unilateral implementation of the delivery initiative test called Expedited Street/Afternoon Sortation (ESAS),” union President Fredric Rolando’s formal legal filing said. Read more here.

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Voices in Labor:

Cesar Chavez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton, becoming the first Mexican-American ever to receive the honor. Chavez co-founded the Nation Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW) in 1962. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. – 1994

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America merge with the Retail Clerks International Union to become United Food & Commercial Workers. – 1979

The International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union received a Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) charter. – 1937

A 58-hour walkout by 73,000 Bell Atlantic workers from 13 states ended in victory. – 1998

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