School Bus Drivers and Monitors Authorize Work Action against Durham School Services in Cumberland, Rhode Island

(Providence, RI – September 11, 2020) – Bus drivers, monitors and aides represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 328 have voted to authorize a work action against Durham School Services, which services Cumberland Public Schools, Providence Mayoral Academy and Blackstone Valley Prep. Each year, these hard-working transportation workers dedicate themselves to safely transporting children across communities including Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Cumberland. They formed their union with UFCW Local 328 in September 2019 to build a better future for their families and the communities they serve. After months of cancelled and stalled negotiations in which Durham has repeatedly failed to address critical health, safety and economic concerns of workers and threatened to cut back guaranteed hours, it is clear that further action is necessary to force Durham to begin negotiating in good faith. 

As local districts establish plans for resuming schooling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, labor organizations have been advocating for procedures that recognize the health and safety of workers and children as a foremost priority. Unfortunately, while many public officials have taken these health and safety concerns seriously, Durham has not. The company has refused to commit to the most basic safety protocols including temperature and symptom checks of students at bus stops, has failed to properly train workers on cleaning protocols and health hazards associated with cleaning products and has refused to hire an outside cleaning company to deep clean buses. The company has even gone as far as describing COVID-19 as comparable to the flu. Refusing to take the virus seriously is an insult to the workers and unnecessarily puts lives at stake. Read more here.

Providence Journal: Providence Teachers Union asks federal agency to do health inspections of schools


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) — The Providence Teachers Union said Monday that it will ask a federal agency to conduct health inspections of the city's schools.

The union said it was the first time in the country such a request has been made. 

The PTU said it has asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to do health hazard evaluations. NIOSH is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The union said the goal to get an"unbiased opinion” from outside investigators on the safety of the schools.

Union President Maribeth Calabro said the walk-throughs the schools conducted were not up to par.

She and other teachers who've spoken to NBC 10 News accuse the district of covering up ventilation issues and sweeping other problems under the rug, like overall cleanliness.

Read more here.

Providence Journal: Providence teachers protest conditions at schools


PROVIDENCE — More than 100 teachers turned out in front of the Rhode Island Department of Education on Tuesday to air a litany of grievances about the reopening of schools.

Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers Union, called out Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“I don’t trust you,” she said. “You lie.”

To a wildly applauding crowd, Calabro said, “Thank God she’s not running for reelection.”

Teachers at the gathering said the state-led inspections of school buildings were a farce, that the Department of Education and Raimondo refused to collaborate with them on the reopening of schools and that classrooms were unsuited for instruction during a pandemic.

They described desks with crumbs from March, when schools in Rhode Island closed; fans that do little but blow in dirt from the outside; mouse droppings on the floor that were waxed over; and a breakdown in communication with parents.

Calabro said students who were supposed to be in school Monday never showed up, while those who were supposed to be learning from home did walk in the door. Read more here.


Watch video here.

AFL-CIO: Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: Roofers and Waterproofers


Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the Roofers and Waterproofers.

Name of Union: United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers 

Mission: To provide a collective voice for the brothers, sisters and friends in the union, ensure members have the protection of a contract and dignity on the job and to provide members with training, brotherhood, sisterhood and friendship and an opportunity to make a difference.

Current Leadership of Union: Kinsey M. Robinson serves as international president and James A. Hadel serves as international secretary-treasurer. The organization also has 10 international vice presidents: Douglas Ziegler (First), Thomas Pedrick (Second), Paul F. Bickford (Third), Richard R. Mathis (Fourth), Daniel P. O'Donnell (Fifth), Robert Peterson (Sixth), Michael A. Vasey (Seventh), Michael Stiens (Eighth), Brent R. Beasley (Ninth) and Joseph Pozzi (Tenth). 

Number of Members: 22,000

Learn more here.

Daily KOS: Nursing homes with unionized healthcare workers saw a 30% lower COVID-19 fatality rate:


Nursing homes in the United States make up more than 40% of our country’s coronavirus-related deaths even though nursing homes make up less than 10% of the total documented coronavirus cases in the U.S. On the one hand, this isn’t that surprising as nursing home residents make up some of the members of our country’s population who are at the highest risk. Nursing homes, however, have seen intensely high numbers, and it turns out those numbers have not been equally dispersed across the country. Why?

A study led by George Washington University professor Adam Dean published findings in Health Affairs on Sept. 10. In it, they found that even though nursing homes were hit hard by the 2019 novel coronavirus, facilities with unionized healthcare workers saw a “30% relative decrease in the COVID-19 mortality rate compared to facilities without health care worker unions.” The team also found that there was “a 42% relative decrease in COVID-19 infection rates.” Read more here.



'Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island,' an online talk with Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara

Hosted by Joey La Neve DeFrancesco and R.I. Labor History 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM 

Drawing from her book 'Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island' (NYU Press, 2016), Dr. Clark-Pujara will examine how the business of slavery--economic activity that was directly related to the maintenance of slaveholding in the Americas, specifically the buying and selling of people, food, and goods--shaped the experience of slavery, the process of emancipation, and the realities of black freedom in Rhode Island from the colonial period through the American Civil War. 

Dr. Clark-Pujara will give a presentation followed by a short Q/A session. 

Register here.


Memorial service for nursing home victims of COVID-19

Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 4 P.M at RI Department of Health, 3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, hundreds of nursing home residents - our mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles - along with their caretakers, have tragically lost their lives to the virus in Rhode Island. The sad truth is too many nursing homes were unprepared to meet the challenge head on, lacking the proper staffing and supplies to keep residents and staff safe. 

Join us for a Memorial Service for the victims of this terrible tragedy. Help us honor their lives, mourn their passing and commit ourselves to working to ensure every Rhode Island nursing home has safe staffing levels, proper supplies, equipment and training for staff to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from ever happening again.

Sign-up here.


URI: Suffrage Centennial Lecture Series

In 2020 we celebrate two monumental events in American history: the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting American women the right to vote, and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment that at least nominally enfranchised African American men. To mark the occasion, URI is planning a yearlong virtual series. Join us as we explore suffrage history and modern-day voting issues. 

Virtual lectures and registration info here.



Upcoming Segment:

▪ Rhode Island Labor History Society commemorated the Labor Day massacre at the Saylesville Cemetery, with this year's featured speaker, URI Professor, Miriam Reumann.

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