April 4, 2016 MLK Would Have Been 86
In Rhode Island 14% of our neighbors live in poverty. In Rhode Island 27% of our children live in poverty. This is an outrage to my heart. I am asking that we recommit ourselves to asking more of society and be wholly dissatisfied with the current structure. A new commitment to bring equity and justice for all of us. This means a new fearlessness a new unbowed and bold face must be presented. We must answer Dr. King’s question: “What is to be done?” with a resounding answer of……
“I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about
Where do we go from here, that we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question,
Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question,
Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question,
Who owns the iron ore?You begin to ask the question,
Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
The images we have of the working classes in America are surprisingly uniform. The popular cultural image right now is a Mike Rowe like character in a hard hat spouting some bootstrap bullshit. We know otherwise, we know our history and we take it to heart. For African american workers it is the history that is unsurprisingly uniform. What is thought of as neo-liberal global capitalism now is and has been the experience of African Americans from the very beginning. The mercenaries who raided African villages were employed by various nations and companies, dragged to ships owned by a corporation, and manned by crews from around the world. Their bodies insured by international insurance companies, sold by brokerage houses that traded in the “stocks and bonds” of the captives, often they were sold several times before arrival. Investors in specific voyages stood to make fortunes on the miserable human cargo. Sold onto plantations, factories, boats, and mines that were owned by international conglomerates that owned portions of the individual captive. There is very little neo in this globalization.
Black workers in America have resisted and struck from the moment of birth to the moment of death. This working class power is the legacy that belongs to all of us. Working Class power is personified in the captive African American. White Workers must learn to share this heritage and lift it up. It is time to retire the word slavery in the context of white employment, there is simply no comparison in the horror.
As a Black worker I am keenly aware of the heightened risks that we face, both inside and outside labor. Our History is shared and we can go so far but only if we do it together.
BLACK WORK MATTERS
Centers health Care made an insulting offer. Out of State nursing home chain Centers Health Care tried to decrease compensation and set up a two tiered system. The WORKERS said HELL NO! on December 28th they voted unanimously to reject CENTERS unfair and divisive offer. These committed and steadfast workers further voted unanimously to authorize a STRIKE if the bosses don’t start negotiating in good faith. Come out and stand in SOLIDARITY with the brave women and men on January 11th at 2pm 135 Dodge St Providence RI.
RI JWJ with RI Hospital workers, after we attempted to deliver over 20,000 petition signatures to Lifespan executives.
Rhode Island needs good jobs and quality healthcare in our community. That’s why RI Jobs With Justice and the Teamster employees at RI Hospital united for a Lifespan that puts people first. Together, we fought for appropriate staffing, fair wages, retirement security, and quality care.
We brought patients into this fight because we know that as the state’s largest healthcare provider and largest employer, decisions made at Lifespan have far-reaching implications for all of us. We’ve brought patients directly to the CEOs of the hospital to air our concerns around under-staffing and disrespect toward workers. And when the hospital’s management team slammed the door in our face, we took the action to the streets with pickets lines drawing hundreds of workers from the hospital and community supporters.
As a sign of new rank and file enthusiasm, workers at the hospital voted overwhelmingly In March, 2015 to authorize their bargaining committee to begin a strike. Fortunately, the hospital’s executives decided to respect the needs of workers and patients, and in April workers ratified a new contract that protects against lay-offs and dangerously low staffing levels, and provides significant raises that benefit the lowest paid workers most.
We won’t give up until Lifespan put the healthcare needs of the community before their executives million dollar pay checks. We won’t stop until Lifespan Puts People First.
Each year, at our annual awards dinner, we honor individuals and groups who exemplify our vision of solidarity, people who brought us together to win concrete victories on the road to economic and social justice. This year, we are proud to introduce a special honor for a man whose life stands as a shining example of these values, Tom Savoie, of the Carpenters Union Local 94.
To Honor Tom’s Lifetime of Dedication, We Are Proud to Introduce:
The Thomas J. Savoie ‘Solidarity Forever’ Award
Join us in honoring Tom’s commitment by donating in honor of our 19th anniversary, or placing an ad in the ad-book for the event.
We are also pleased to honor the following individuals and groups, whose accomplishments this past year have brought us closer to our vision of a world where workers’ rights are respected, and justice reigns in all of our communities.
James Parisi, RI Federation of Teachers and Healthcare Professionals
The Fast Food Workers Organizing Committee
The Tenant and Homeowner’s Association at DARE
The Olneyville Neighborhood Association
Click here to make a donation for our 19th anniversary, place an ad in the event’s ad-book, or purchase tickets.
The deadline to place an ad is Friday, February 27th. We hope you can join us on March 12th (Note the updated date) at the Cranston Portuguese Club, 20 2nd Ave., from 6pm to 9pm, as we celebrate these inspiring individuals.
Informational Picket for Good Jobs & Quality Patient Care!
Thursday, Jan. 29th, 2–5:30pm at the corner of Eddy and Dudley Streets. Community Delegation at 3pm.
Rhode Island needs good jobs and quality healthcare in our community. That’s why workers and community members are uniting for a Lifespan that puts people first. Teamsters Local 251 represents nearly 2,500 employees who provide direct patient care and make Rhode Island Hospital go. They have put forward a series of proposals in contract negotiations for Good Jobs & Quality Patient Care, including appropriate staffing, fair wages, retirement security, and quality care. As a non-profit entity, Lifespan and RI Hospital are supposed to put the healthcare needs of the community first. Unfortunately, management has taken cost-cutting measures, causing shortages in equipment and staff that undermine patient care. Some Certified Nursing Assistants report having to buy their own equipment to make sure they can monitor patients’ oxygen levels. Physical plant workers report troubling shortages of critical equipment they need to combat mold in ventilation ducts to patient and operating rooms. Now the Hospital is threatening to make the situation even worse by laying off more employees. At the same time, Lifespan paid more than $16.6 million in compensation to just ten executives last year. These individuals averaged $1 million more in compensation than the average compensation earned by CEOs of nonprofit hospitals nationwide. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s largest healthcare employer has employees working more forty hours per week that get no health coverage. Come out to the informational picket this Thursday, and make sure to get there in time for the community delegation at 3pm. And be on the lookout for other ways to stand together with hospital workers in the fight for Good Jobs & Quality Care.
We’ve hired a new organizer, Adan Sales!
With his years of experiences organizing for immigrant’s rights and working in the restaurant industry, we’re very excited to have him on board.
Be on the look out for more information coming soon!
Women & Infants Hospital RI has been hiring travel nurses instead of local, well-trained professionals
Women & Infants, a Care New England hospital, is hiring travel nurses, denying quality jobs to Rhode Island residents, and putting our loved ones in unprepared hands. The unemployment crisis in Rhode Island has hit Providence and communities of color especially hard. Women & Infants should not be contributing to the problem, especially while they receive millions of dollars in direct and indirect taxpayer funding in the form of tax breaks, Medicare and Medicaid payments.
Enough is enough. Click here to send a message to Women & Infants President Mark Marcantano, and tell him to respect W&I employees and patients.
Hospital management refuses to solve the problem at its root, by hiring enough local, trained nurses to meet the hospital and the community’s needs. Instead, they are hiring travel nurses, reducing the quality of care patients receive. 
By not adequately staffing, W&I management is attempting to make life even more difficult for its employees, disrupting their schedules with so-called “block scheduling.” Workers deserve consistency in their schedule.
Click here to tell Women & Infants management to live up to their hospital’s own stated “family friendly” values, and respect their employees right to fair scheduling.
All employees deserve consistency in their schedules, and the ability to coordinate doctor’s visits, trips to the grocery store, childcare and time with family. Join us to fight for the rights of all workers to #SchedulesThatWork.
After 3 years of organizing by RI Jobs With Justice, The Olneyville Neighborhood Association, and other members of the Todos Somos Arizona (We Are All Arizona) Coalition and allies, Governor Chafee issued an executive order last week preventing the RI Department of Corrections from handing people over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This massive victory will dramatically limit deportations in our state, helping to quell the fear undocumented workers and family members live with everyday.
Click here to support our work organizing in solidarity with immigrant workers by signing up to be a monthly sustainer of RI Jobs With Justice!
Antonio Mejia (center), released from prison after being held nearly 7 months for a charge of driving without a license. Before the executive order, Antonio would have been given over to Immigration Agents if he had paid bail, but today he walks free.
As a member of the Todos Somos Arizona (We Are All Arizona) coalition, RI Jobs With Justice has built strategic alliances between faith, labor and community organizations to show a united front against exploitation and fear. And now, after years of hard work, the tide has shifted in Rhode Island towards justice for immigrants.
But we still have much work left to do to ensure that all Rhode Islanders can live and work without fear. We will continue to fight to ensure all Rhode Islanders can get to work using a valid driver’s license. We appreciate the work of everyone who has participated in this campaign, and hope that you all continue to engage in the fight for immigrants’ rights and workers’ rights.