E-NEWS: FEBRUARY 17, 2022

The Labor Vision at Home Edition continues. Check out the latest episodes on our website: http://www.LaborVisionRI.org.

Never miss a segment. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@LaborVisionRI), and subscribe to our YouTube channel (LaborVisionTV1). 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.



The Providence Journal: Lost taxes and salaries: RI unions kick off a campaign to make wage theft a felony

In a renewed campaign to make wage theft a felony in Rhode Island, union leaders are pointing to new research that says more than 9% of the state’s employers misclassify workers as independent contractors.

The paper from academics at the University of Massachusetts Labor Center and a construction-industry research group analyzed the results of state labor department unemployment insurance audits of Rhode Island employers from 2016 to last year.

It estimated that that $185 million in workers’ wages and salaries went unreported to the Department of Labor and Training in 2019, and that it cost the state from $25 million to $54 million in lost taxes that year.

‘Restoring worker rights’

The paper’s authors, Russell Ormiston of Allegheny College and Tom Juravich of UMass Amherst, conclude that changes in state labor law “offer considerable promise in restoring worker rights and ensuring greater justice in Rhode Island’s workplaces. The first is to make wage theft a felony.”

That’s music to the ears of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, which has put making wage theft a felony offense at the top of its legislative priorities for this year. Read more here.


A new study released by University of Massachusetts Amherst Labor Center reveals that nearly 1-in-10 RI employers misclassified employees between 2016 and 2021, affecting an estimated 19,359 workers and costing taxpayers at least $25.1 M.

Read report here.


University of Massachussetts Amherst: New UMass Amherst Labor Center Study Finds Nearly 10% of Rhode Island Employers Misclassify Workers, Costing Taxpayers Tens of Millions of Dollars

AMHERST, Mass. – A new study released today by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Labor Center reveals that nearly 1-in-10 Rhode Island employers misclassified employees as independent contractors between 2016 and 2021, affecting an estimated 19,359 workers in the state in 2019 and costing taxpayers at least $25.1 million. Illegal misclassification allows firms to evade taxes while denying workers their legal rights to, among other things, unemployment insurance benefits, workers’ compensation insurance and overtime pay.

The study, which was co-produced by the Institute for Construction Economics Research (ICERES) and conducted by Tom Juravich, professor of labor studies and sociology at UMass Amherst, and Russell Ormiston, associate professor of business and economics at Allegheny College and president of the ICERES, relied on extensive data provided by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

“This research builds on the work we did in Massachusetts and shows that rampant worker misclassification and employer tax fraud is a problem across New England,” says Juravich.

Worker misclassification occurs in every industry of the Rhode Island economy, but is especially rampant among residential construction, janitorial services, landscapers and certain types of construction contractors, such as painting and finish carpentry. “The illegal misclassification of workers as independent contractors in residential construction has created a hothouse for wage theft,” Juravich says. Read more here.


PRESS RELEASE

UNAP launches campaign calling on Catholics to stop donating to the Church until the Providence Diocese settles with St. Joe’s pensioners

Multimedia campaign features affected retired nurses and healthcare workers

Providence, RI – The United Nurses and Allied Professionals, a union representing more than 7,000 nurses and health professionals, today launched a campaign calling on Rhode Island Catholics to stop donating to the Church until the Diocese of Providence fulfills their moral and financial obligation to the retired nurses and healthcare workers from St. Joseph’s and Our Lady of Fatima hospitals. The campaign highlights a number of affected pensioners who are at risk of losing their hard-earned pensions, and is aimed at educating practicing Catholics about this issue.

“When Bishop Tobin and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence allegedly failed to properly fund their own nurses and health care workers’ pension system for a decade, they did more than financially mismanage an asset – they jeopardized the financial future of the very workers who selflessly served the Church and their patients for decades,” said Lynn Blais, R.N., President of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals. “This whole episode has been a massive injustice to the retired nurses and healthcare workers who have been put in financial jeopardy and face losing their retirement. These people did nothing wrong, and they’re losing sleep at night because they know that the pension payments they were promised could stop coming at any time. We are going all in using paid media and grassroots efforts to inform practicing Catholics about the lack of concern Bishop Tobin and the Diocese of Providence have for these mostly female, mostly elderly retirees.” Read more here.


Teamsters: Rhode Island Stericycle Teamsters Edge Closer to Strike

Local 251 Members Hold Practice Pickets; Healthcare, Retirement and Covid-19 Protections Are Main Issues in Contract Negotiations

(Pawtucket and Woonsocket, R.I.) – Nearly 50 workers at two Stericycle-owned businesses, represented by Teamsters Local 251, engaged in a practice strike demonstration at Stericycle and Shred-it locations early this morning.

Woonsocket workers voted more than a year ago to join the Teamsters, and in Pawtucket the one-year mark is coming up soon. Both units are currently in contract negotiations for a first contract.

“We are frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations for our first contract and the company’s latest position that it won’t offer better health insurance benefits, improve its retirement plan or provide relief to workers who test positive for Covid-19,” said Chris LaFlamme, a 23-year Shred-it driver.

“Negotiations have been difficult at times and up until now we have been able to work through many issues during the bargaining process,” Teamsters Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer Matt Taibi said. “We’ve agreed to have a federal mediator join negotiations. We’re hopeful we can get a fair contract soon, but we are very close to a labor dispute.”  Read more here.


Here are two ways you can support Green and Healthy Schools:

  1. Testify in support of H-7125 – The school construction bond proposal (H-7125) is up for a hearing in House Finance TODAY! Here is the link to the Committee Agenda if you’d like to provide in-person testimony or send in written testimony (by 1pm today).
  2. Sign on to our petition! This will only take 2 minutes and it is a very simple way to show your support – Sign-on HERE

Denise Robinson, President of IFPTE Local 400 was recently elected to be on her national union’s executive board. Congratulations Denise!

Denise Robinson, Northeastern Area VP

IFPTE: Denise Robinson currently serves as President of IFPTE Local 400 representing members at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). She is currently employed as an Engineering Technician IV at RIDOT.

While in Local 400, Denise has served as Correspondence Secretary, Steward, Unit Representative, Chief Steward, and Vice President. She has actively been attending the NE Council, serving as a delegate for Local 400, and currently is Vice President of the NE Council. Denise currently serves on the Executive Board of the RI AFL-CIO. She is also a member of the National Coalition of Labor Union Women and serves as a trustee on the Executive Board of the RI Chapter of Coalition of Labor Union Women, and the Women’s Solidarity Network (which she joined at the IFPTE 59th Convention).

In 1989 she began her career at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Upon her employment with RIDOT, she became active with Local 400. Denise’s union experience started back in 1980 as a recording secretary for Local 1293 AFSCME-Council 94 AFL-CIO; she moved through the ranks becoming a Steward and then Treasurer. She has been employed in union jobs for over 40 years.

Denise was born and raised in Rhode Island and now shares a home with her significant other, Paula, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. She has a daughter and three wonderful grandsons, she loves spending time with family and friends, and enjoys giving back to her community.


U.S. Department of Labor: How the Department of Labor is Empowering Workers to Organize

I am where I am today because of unions. My parents came to America looking for economic opportunity, and they found it after my father joined the Laborers Union Local 223 in Boston. As a union member, he earned enough wages to support our family and he also got a say in his working conditions. When I started working construction at 19, I joined the same union and eventually became president of the local.

My union not only helped keep me employed — it helped me get sober. With good health benefits, a member assistance program and a supportive community, I was able to address my alcoholism and follow new opportunities as a Massachusetts State Representative, the head of the Boston Building Trades, the Mayor of Boston and now your Secretary of Labor.

Unfortunately, stories like mine have become less and less common. Despite unions’ long history of fighting for higher wages and lifting up workers’ voices in their workplaces, communities and government, union density has been declining for decades. In the 1950s, more than 30% of the U.S. workforce was part of a union. Today, only 10.3% of our workforce is unionized. The consequences of this decline have been widespread and painful for millions of working-class families: Declining union representation is associated with deepening economic inequality, stagnant real wages, and the shrinking of the middle class.

It should be no surprise, then, that more workers want to join unions. In fact, more than 60 million non-union workers say they would join a union if given the chance — including nearly 75% of young workers age 18-24. Read more here.


Halftime at the Super Bowl:

IATSE Facebook:

This is what “union strong” looks like! Amazing work by these IATSE kin!

credit: Scott Feinbe

Watch video here.





UPCOMING EVENTS:

TEAMSTERS, Local 251

SOLIDARITY WITH JOHNSON BROTHERS WORKERS

Please visit the picket line and show Johnson Brothers that workers stick together and will not be treated like second-class citizens.

Picket lines are at:

Johnson Brothers of Rhode Island

120 Moscrip Ave

North Kingstown RI 02852

Key times are 7:30-8:30 a.m.

Let Johnson Brothers know about your concerns at:

651-649-5800 (Corporate) or 401-583-0050 (Rhode Island)

Donations can be made to: Teamsters Local 251 Strike Fund, 121 Brightridge Ave. East Providence RI 02914

More information here.



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LABOR VISION

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The Labor Vision at Home Edition continues. Check out the latest episodes on our website: http://www.LaborVisionRI.org.

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Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter (@LaborVisionRI), and subscribe to our YouTube channel (LaborVisionTV1). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYjDqDCHe_I&t=205s