e-news: april 29, 2021

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.


Legislative Directory:

The new 2021-2022 Legislative Directory can be found on our website.


An excellent Op-Ed in the Valley Breeze by Heiny Maldonado, Executive Director, Fuerza Laboral and Manuela Suggs, CNA.

The Valley Breeze: We need to hold the nursing home industry accountable to protect residents

As Rhode Island nursing homes slowly turn the corner on COVID-19, we must make lasting changes to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from happening again. COVID-19 did not create this crisis, it just revealed the flaws of a long-term care system that has been broken for years.

It is nursing home residents who suffer most with over 1,460 COVID-19 fatalities, making us third in the nation for the percentage of COVID-19 nursing home deaths. New studies show the relationship between short staffing and the spread of COVID – R.I. ranked 41st in the nation, and worst in New England, for the amount of daily resident direct care in quarter two of 2020.

For decades, short staffing, poverty wages, and a lack of respect given to a workforce that is largely female, disproportionately Black and increasingly immigrant created high turnover and dragged down the quality of care. Read more here.


The Providence Journal: State lawmakers to unveil bill for free RIPTA bus fares

State lawmakers will soon introduce legislation for free fares on Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses, an effort Democrats say will fight climate change, boost the economy and foster racial justice.

On Wednesday, Sen. Meghan Kallman and Rep. Leonela Felix, both Democrats from Pawtucket, announced their intent to unveil the bill, which Kallman said would be released within the next two weeks.

The program has a $25-million price tag, which lawmakers are aiming to finance with revenues from the gas tax and the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI. That program still needs authorization from state lawmakers. If approved, it would launch in 2023, requiring certain fuel suppliers to pay allowances for the pollution their fuels create. TCI is expected to generate about $276 million in its first year. Read more here.


Pictures from the free RIPTA bus fares press conference on Wednesday.

View pictures here.


The Providence Journal: Magaziner hails results of $250M school construction bond

EAST PROVIDENCE — In 2007, the Jacobs report concluded that Rhode Island’s schools faced a tidal wave of need.

Science labs were woefully outdated. Roofs leaked, pipes burst and, at one Newport high school, mice dropped from the ceiling.

A year later, voters approved a $250-million general obligation bond, the largest in state history, to address decades of neglect.

On Wednesday, Treasurer Seth Magaziner toured the new $189.5-million East Providence High School to tout the progress that has been made in retooling the state’s school buildings. East Providence is the first new high school built in 20 years.

Here are some of the highlights:

More than 160 school buildings have been repaired or replaced.

In two years, over $600 million in school construction projects have been funded.

Magaziner hopes voters will approve a second $250-million bond in 2022. Read more here.


Cannabis Business Times: Unionization Efforts Are Under Way in the Cannabis Space

Cultivation and dispensary employees from Massachusetts and Rhode Island join UFCW union as part of a national labor organizing wave.

A unionization effort filed for 17 employees at the Curaleaf medical dispensary in Hanover, Mass., went all the way to Washington, D.C., before a final decision on the results of a mail-in election was made earlier this month. The majority of ballots had been challenged, some of which remained sealed in the final vote count.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 328, which represents more than 11,000 workers in a range of industries throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, filed for the Curaleaf Hanover union election April 20, 2020—during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballots went out to the Hanover team in May, and the original vote count was June 26. That vote came back 5-2 in favor of joining the Local 328, excluding 10 challenged ballots, which were determinative, meaning there were more challenged votes than the difference between yeses and noes.
“There was some fighting back and forth—because it was during COVID—about people that they were bringing in from other areas and having them work there,” UFCW Local 328 President Tim Melia said. “But they weren’t part of the Hanover group. The company was arguing that they should be part of the unit and should be able to vote on the contract. And we were arguing back the other way. So, there were some charges about who was eligible and who wasn’t when the vote came.” Read more here.


1199 SEIU Rhode Island Facebook:

CONGRATULATIONS! Butler members on the ratification of a strong new contract. After months of negotiations in a pandemic and many days of unity, 1199 members have a new contract winning on all of our demands- good raises, job security, a stronger voice on workplace health and safety, and much more! When we fight, we win! Tremendous work by the Butler 1199 bargaining committee. View pictures here.


The White House Briefing Room: FACT SHEET: Executive Order Establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment APRIL 26, 2021 • STATEMENTS AND RELEASES

Today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. The Task Force will be dedicated to mobilizing the federal government’s policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers. Chaired by Vice-President Kamala Harris and Vice-Chaired by Secretary Marty Walsh, the Task Force will include more than twenty cabinet members and heads of other federal agencies who will take a whole-of-government approach to empower workers.

Background
President Biden and Vice-President Harris have long championed workers’ rights. As the President has said: America was built by the middle class, and unions built the middle class. Throughout our country’s history, unions have been the driving forces for advancements in workers’ rights and improved living standards for union and non-union workers. They have fought for higher wages, greater job security, safety and health laws, essential benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, and protections from discrimination and sexual harassment for millions of workers across the country. Sixteen million workers in the United States are union members or in a job that provides them union representation. More than six in ten of those workers are women and/or people of color. Union workers earn roughly 13% more than non-union workers on a similar job site. They also experience drastically lower rates of labor standards violations, like employers wage theft or workplace safety and health hazards. Read more here.




UPCOMING EVENTS:


Celebrating our YMCA Heroes

Join us as we celebrate our fourth annual Y Heroes Event on Cinco de Mayo Wednesday, May 5 2021 on our YMCA Facebook page. Armand Sabitoni, General Secretary-Treasurer, & New England Regional Manager, Laborers International Union of North America is one of the Y heroes being honored. For more information and to donate, visit YMCAHeroes.org.





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Now playing on Labor Vision

Last week, LaborVision welcomed Jocelynn White of Books Are Wings and Lori DiMatteo of United Way of RI to talk about their annual Children’s Book drive. This month-long event kicks off this Saturday, May 1st and is a collaboration between Books Are Wings, United Way of RI, and Women United. Over the last eight years, this event has put 216,675 books into the hands of children throughout Rhode Island. However, because of COVID-19 this book drive was unable to happen last year. This year, the goal is to make up for that loss and collect double the number of books.

Reading is a critical part of learning development in young children. Children who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school than proficient readers. It is Books Are Wings’ mission to put free books in the hands of children because they believe every child deserves access to high-quality reading materials. The goal of their annual Children’s Book Drive is to collect new and gently used books for babies to middle school-aged youth in an effort to foster a love for reading and the opportunity for children to grow their at-home libraries.

Tune in to this segment to learn more about how you can get involved in this year’s event!

Contact Info: bookdrive@unitedway.org

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