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For Immediate Release

Nov. 30, 2022

Contact: Matt Taibi, (401) 434-0454

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Essential Workers Demand Higher Standards at Preeminent Art School

(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) – Teamsters Local 251 members working as custodians, groundskeepers, and movers at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) have voted to authorize a strike by a 95 percent margin.


“These brave men and women are joining tens of thousands of other university workers all across the country who are standing up and demanding that their employers stop acting like Fortune 500 companies and start acting like institutions of higher learning,” said Matt Taibi, Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer and Eastern Region International Vice President. “These workers have been underappreciated and undercompensated for far too long.”


The workers took the strike authorization vote after the university refused to meet a reasonable standard for wages, health care benefits, and a retirement package. As of 2020, RISD has roughly 2,500 students enrolled, an endowment of $440 million, and an operating budget of $161 million.


“Universities are supposed to ascribe to a moral standard loftier than net profit,” said Regina Santos, a Local 251 member who serves on the union negotiating committee. “RISD says it’s ‘committed to furthering progress in Providence and Rhode Island through mutually beneficial engagement with the community.’ We are that very community, so they can start in-house.”

Teamsters Local 251 represents over 6,300 workers in a wide variety of industries throughout Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. For more information, go to


Union Scholars Program


A summer internship program for students of color passionate about social justice and workers’ rights.

DISCLAIMER: If selected, AFSCME requires proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID 19.

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is pleased to partner with Harvard University's Labor and Worklife Program to sponsor the Union Scholars Program. AFSCME is one of the nation’s largest labor unions, representing public service employees and retirees across the country. Harvard’s Labor and Worklife Program, located in the Harvard Law School, is the university’s center for research, teaching and creative problem-solving related to the world of work. The program is funded through the Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund.

The Union Scholars Program is an 8-week summer internship for students of color. Students will take part in a hands-on organizing experience with AFSCME members, and will enjoy an opportunity to travel and receive valuable, resume-building experience – all while getting paid.

The application for the 2023 Union Scholars Program is now live. Click here to access the application.

International Association of Firefighters: Congress Passes Legislation to Protect Fire Fighters from PFAS Exposure

The House passed legislation Dec. 1 directing the federal government to develop guidance for fire fighters on best practices to prevent PFAS exposure on the job. The Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

The bill passed the Senate last summer, where it was authored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and co-sponsored by Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“The IAFF strongly supports all efforts to reduce exposures to PFAS and other carcinogens,” said General President Edward Kelly. “PFAS is all around us. It is in our bunker gear, our PPE, and training foam. Until PFAS can be removed and replaced with safer alternatives, we must incorporate all preventative measures. I am grateful that our elected officials are taking action and look forward to continuing to work with them to extinguish cancer from the fire service.”

Once this legislation is signed into law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have one year to publish training guidance. The curriculum is required to include ways to reduce or eliminate exposure to PFAS from firefighting foam and PPE, strategies for preventing the release of PFAS from firefighting foam into the environment, and provide emergency personnel with information on alternatives to PFAS equipment and foams. Read more here.

AFL-CIO: On the Anniversary of the AFL-CIO Merger, Listen to How It All Began

On this day 65 years ago, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the country’s two leading labor federations, joined together to consolidate working people’s goals and activism in pursuit of a better tomorrow. The AFL-CIO’s first president, George Meany, spoke to the new federation’s first convention in New York on Dec. 5, 1955.

As we look forward to another year of fighting on behalf of the hopes and aspirations of working people, let’s take some time to look back at how it began and keep in mind the many who came before us, those who built the foundation upon which we now stand.

Courtesy of the University of Maryland, we can listen to Meany’s speech at that first convention, presented in two parts: Watch videos here.

AFL-CIO: Union-Made in America Holiday Gift Ideas

It's not too late yet to find that perfect holiday gift that carries a union label and is made in America. Below is a wide range of gift possibilities, from clothes to games to sports equipment and more, made by members of UNITE HERE, the Boilermakers (IBB), the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the Machinists (IAM), the United Steelworkers (USW), the Teamsters (IBT), the UAW, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union-UFCW (RWDSU-UFCW) and the United Farm Workers (UFW).

This list is compiled from Union Plus, the Union Label and Service Trades Department (UL&STD) and the BCTGM website. Check them out for even more gift ideas.

Shipping gifts this year? Make sure to ship using a union carrier like the U.S. Postal Service or UPS.

See list here.


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