For immediate release: August 15, 2022
Contact: Patrick Crowley ▪ 401.330.6870 ▪ email@example.com
Providence, RI – The Executive Board of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO voted to endorse Dominick Ruggerio for State Senate in District 4 in the Democratic Primary election to be held on September 13, 2022.
George Nee, president of the state’s largest labor federation, said “Dominick Ruggerio has a long history of being a champion for working people. As Senate President, he has taken the lead on a number of issues that are important to working families, like raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and making wage theft and employee misclassification felonies. He also strongly supports efforts to protect current law that provides for mandatory time and a half pay for all workers who work on Sunday and holidays. Senator Ruggerio doesn’t just talk about helping working people – he acts on it. That’s why we’ve endorsed him for State Senate in District 4.”
Patrick Crowley, Secretary Treasurer of the RI AFL-CIO, highlighted Senator Ruggerio’s role in creating more jobs in the green economy as a key factor in earning the AFL-CIO’s endorsement. “Senator Ruggerio sponsored the 100% Renewable Energy Standard bill and was integral in pushing it across the finish line. This legislation will not only help our environment by reducing carbon emissions, but it will create hundreds of new jobs in the green economy. We need forward thinking leaders who will promote policies that protect our environment for future generations and put the current generation of Rhode Islanders to work in these important jobs.”
The Rhode Island AFL-CIO represents over 250 affiliated unions and 80,000 working men and women across the Ocean State.
For immediate release: July 25, 2022
Contact: Patrick Crowley ▪ 401.330.6870 ▪ firstname.lastname@example.org
Providence, RI – Today, the Executive Board of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO voted to endorse Daniel J. McKee for Governor in the Democratic Party primary election to be held on September 13, 2022.
George Nee, president of the state’s largest labor federation, said “Since becoming Governor in March of 2021, Governor McKee has consistently demonstrated a commitment to making life better for working Rhode Islanders. He signed into law several pieces of legislation important to union members including an increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the Act on Climate, the nursing home safe staffing legislation, an extension of the Rhode Island Promise program, prevailing wage legislation for projects using state tax credits as well as for state contracts with janitorial and security vendors, the voting reform package known as “Let RI Vote” and a number of important gun safety measures. We look forward to continuing to work with the McKee Administration on issues that affect not only the 80,000 men and women of the Rhode Island labor movement but all of the Ocean State’s working people.”
Patrick Crowley, Secretary Treasurer of the RI AFL-CIO, highlighted the Governor’s record on climate change as a key reason for earning the labor movement’s endorsement. “Governor McKee was instrumental in enacting important legislation as Rhode Island looks to build a just transition to a carbon-free economy. The 100% Renewable Energy Standard law, the Off-Shore Wind Procurement law, and the Labor Standards in Renewable Energy Projects law are examples of forward-thinking legislation putting Rhode Island at the forefront of tackling the impact of climate change. Governor McKee’s leadership on these issues puts Rhode Island on the path to meeting the ambitious goals of the 2021 Act on Climate.”
The endorsement comes after interview sessions with all the leading Democratic Party candidates for Governor, including Governor McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Dr. Luis Daniel Munoz, Helena Foulkes, and Matt Brown.
The Rhode Island AFL-CIO represents over 250 affiliated unions and 80,000 working men and women across the Ocean State.
For immediate release: May 24, 2022
Contact: Patrick Crowley
Providence, RI - On May 23, 2022, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO Executive Board unanimously voted to endorse Gregg Amore for Rhode Island Secretary of State.
“The Rhode Island AFL-CIO enthusiastically supports Gregg Amore for Secretary of State because he has a long track record of championing issues that are of great importance to working Rhode Islanders,” stated RI AFL-CIO President George Nee. “As a State Representative, he always stood up for working people, whether it was his support for collective bargaining, an increased minimum wage, fairer and safer workplace laws, cracking down on wage theft, or advocating for family-friendly policies like paid sick leave. As a public school civics teacher, he understands the magnitude of the current moment we are living through – and will defend our democracy and our right to vote at all costs, while keeping our elections safe and secure. We believe in Gregg’s vision to make voting easier and more accessible for all Rhode Islanders, because everyone deserves to have their voice heard at the ballot box. Over the coming months, we look forward to communicating to our 80,000 members the importance of this race and doing everything we can to help Gregg get elected this fall.”
For Immediate Distribution
For more information: Patrick Crowley 401-330-6870 or Patrick@RIaflcio.com
Providence, RI - Earlier today the Rhode Island AFL-CIO voted to endorse Congressman David Cicilline for re-election to Congressional District One (1) and Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner for election to Congressional District Two (2).
“Treasurer Magaziner is the type of leader Rhode Island needs in Congress,” said George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “Seth’s efforts as chair of the state’s school building task force helped launch a transformation of Rhode Island’s school infrastructure, ensuring that all students have safe, warm, and dry places to learn all while creating 28,000 construction related jobs.” The Rhode Island AFL-CIO also supports the proposal by Treasurer Magaziner to continue the transformation of Rhode Island’s school infrastructure through his new proposed $300 million bond question which will help to decarbonize our schools and meet the goals of the Act on Climate.
“Congressman Cicilline continues to be a strong voice for union members in Congress, advocating for crucial pieces of legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the Raise the Wage Act, and the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act,” said Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “Working people across the state are proud to have David as our champion in Congress.” The Rhode Island AFL-CIO represents 80,000 working women and men across the ocean state in all sectors of the workforce.
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.
Authored by researchers at Cornell University, the report Building a Just Transition for a Resilient Future: A Climate Jobs Program for Rhode Island examines the climate crisis in Rhode Island and outlines a set of high-impact climate jobs recommendations that maximize the state’s actions towards:
Download Climate Jobs RI’s comprehensive policy platform and climate action plan here.
It’s been quite the ride for George Nee since he felt inspired to leave Boston College in 1969 to help organize the grape boycott for the United Farm Workers of America in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The decision would kick off a more than 50-year commitment to labor and the rights of workers.
Now the president of the Rhode Island AFl-CIO, a position he’s held since 2009 after joining the organization in 1983, George Nee is the recipient of this year’s Dante F. Mollo Labor United Award.
“When I think of what the Dante Mollo award represents — an individual who tirelessly fights for equal opportunity for all — there is no question it is George who embodies those traits,” says Cortney Nicolato, United Way of Rhode Island’s president and CEO. “His efforts throughout the years have made a difference for literally tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders and their families.”
George’s leadership of the Rhode Island labor community dates back to 1971. After the grape boycott proved successful, resulting in union contracts and improved conditions for farm workers, he came here to coordinate a lettuce boycott. Working alongside farm workers who spoke little English, George solidified the right to organize and the power of collective action as keys to allow hard-working people to take control of their economic futures.
A few years later, he organized a number of low-wage Rhode Island jewelry, clerical, and healthcare workers into a formidable group that would become the Service Employees International Union, Local 76. George would serve as its founding president from 1976 to 1983. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Working people have a right to have a voice everywhere decisions are made in Rhode Island and I’ve tried to dedicate my life to making sure people are treated in a just manner,” says George. “This award means a lot because I knew Danny Mollo personally… he was a force of nature. Danny preceded 211, but he was his own 211. In fact, I know he would be proud and amazed at what United Way has done with 211. It’s so valuable that people have a single place to call and can get assistance.”
With the RI AFL-CIO, George has had a profound impact on the community through advocacy, volunteerism, philanthropy, and influencing policy changes that improved access to opportunities and education for workers. He is actively involved in economic development projects, and serves on the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority and the Human Resource Investment Council to name a few.
Under George’s leadership, the RI AFL-CIO was the first partner to endorse our LIVE UNITED 2025 strategic plan.
George Nee and Patrick Crowley Guest columnists
While the origins of the Labor Day holiday cannot be traced to a single event, Rhode Island is one of a few states laying claim to starting it. Rhode Island hosted its first labor celebration on Aug. 23, 1882, even though the state wouldn’t celebrate its first official Labor Day for another 11 years. Then, 10,000 workers marched through the streets of Providence with the families and friends cheering them on, and then were ferried to Rocky Point for speeches from local and national labor leaders and a traditional clambake dinner.
Labor Day, then and now, is a time for workers to celebrate our work and to display our solidarity. This year, like in years past, the labor movement will gather in Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls to remember the union workers who were killed by security forces during the 1934 Saylesville Massacre. For the labor movement, this weekend is much more than a quiet end to the summer. It is about honoring the dead and fighting for the living. Now, even though the COVID- 19 pandemic created hardships for all of us, it has also reminded us why we celebrate workers in the first place.
How many times did we hear the term “essential workers” this last year and a half? Health-care workers and first responders, of course, but also store clerks and truck drivers. Countless workers were deemed essential including state and municipal workers, teachers and education support professionals, food and agricultural workers, transportation, warehouse, and delivery workers, and critical manufacturing workers. They worked long hours in hazardous conditions for the good of us all. Some of lowest paid workers were deemed as “essential” and even “frontline” workers.
There were moments captured in the news media of citizens applauding and publicly celebrating our essential workers — and how amazing that we now recognize them as essential.
But now, these same workers are fighting for their basic rights: a living wage, safe working conditions and the right to organize and join a union. As a state, we should not now allow powerful employers to treat these heroes as zeroes.
Throughout this crisis, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and our affiliated unions fought alongside these workers, trying to protect them from unsafe working condustry, ditions and working to pass legislation like the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act. We rallied for civil rights and for the recognition that Black Lives Matter in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. And we continue to push for the federal legislation like the PROAct, giving workers a stronger voice on the job.
This year Rhode Island became the ninth state to put workers on a pathway to a $15 minimum wage. We applaud the General Assembly for passing this legislation and Governor McKee for signing it into law. But many challenges still lie ahead for Rhode Island’s working people. Whether the discussion concerns consolidation within the health-care inour deciding how to spend federal dollars on infrastructure, how to improve public education, how to protect workers from unscrupulous employers who engage in wage-theft, or how to ensure Rhode Island meets the goal of a net-zero emission economy as envisioned by the Act on Climate, the voice of working people needs to be heard loud and clear.
We are all eager to put this crisis behind us. We are all trying to find our new normal, but in our eagerness to move forward, we should not forget the workers who helped us survive.
George Nee is the president and Patrick Crowley is the secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
The AFL-CIO is including this regular feature in our Dispatch newsletter, where we ask three questions of a labor leader. We continue this feature with a short interview with Patrick Crowley (NEA), secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
Q: How did you get started in the labor movement?
A: My first union job was as a member of RWDSU-UFCW Local 513 in Needham, Massachusetts, when I worked at the Coca-Cola factory to pay my way through college, but I really first became an active member when I joined UAW Local 2322 as a graduate student employee for the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Q: What are your highest priorities in 2021?
A: The Rhode Island AFL-CIO helped to organize Climate Jobs Rhode Island, a coalition of unions and environmental organizations that work on prioritizing a just transition to a green economy. So far we’ve made good progress, helping to pass a pro-worker environmental bill into law called the “Act on Climate.” We are also working on increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, trying to make wage-theft a felony, establishing a patient/caregiver staffing ratio for nursing home workers, and enacting a moratorium on new charter schools. We are also advocating to make our statewide public bus service, RIPTA (where members of Amalgamated Transit Union [ATU] Local 618 work) free to all riders, so the service can expand and help us address the effects of climate change by encouraging more people to use public transportation.
Q: Can you tell us about recent progress that the Rhode Island AFL-CIO has had?
A: Despite everything going on with the pandemic, it’s been great to help our affiliates continue to organize new workers. In recent weeks we’ve seen union organizing wins for both private and public sector affiliates, adding members in the cannabis industry, school bus drivers, and public higher education. I’m optimistic that with the support of Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse we can get the PRO Act passed so we can ramp up our organizing even more.
On March 31, now known as César Chávez Day, George Nee (OPEIU, pictured on the left), president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, took a look back on the work he did with Chávez (pictured far right), the inspirational labor leader, to help organize the grape boycott for the United Farm Workers (UFW) In 1969. Nee decided to leave Boston College to assist Chávez and UFW in their efforts. He helped to organize the 1,000-man march through the California fruit and vegetable countryside. The successful conclusion of the grape boycott then launched Nee into a lifetime in the labor and civil rights movements, and he has been serving as president of the state federation since 2009. When Chávez passed away in 1993, Nee was a pallbearer at his funeral.
On Wednesday, the White House released a proclamation officially announcing March 31 as César Chávez Day.
“I was proud to place a bust of César Chávez in the Oval Office, so that no one who enters that historic room may forget the powerful truths his farm worker hands imparted,” said President Biden in the proclamation. “I call upon all Americans to observe this day as a day of service and learning, with appropriate service, community, and education programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.”
March 31 is Cesar Chavez day. President George Nee used to work for Chavez and the UFW years ago. Download the link to read an essay he wrote about his time working with Cesar Chavez.
UNAP launches campaign (pdf)Download
NEA Tiverton takes vote of no confidence in Superintendent (pdf)Download
AFSCME Warwick employees (pdf)Download
1.14.20OceanStateTransit251 (002) (pdf)Download
School Bus Drivers_Monitors Teamsters (pdf)Download
CWA Outlines the Danger of GateHouse-Gannett Deal (pdf)Download
Providence Journal Release Oct 9 2019 (pdf)Download
RI Council 94 AFSCME calls for action (pdf)Download
Statement from George Nee July 16 2019 (pdf)Download
DD End of Session Press Release 2019 (pdf)Download
RISAFF Press Release30052019 (pdf)Download
A joint letter from SEIU, District 1199, RIFTHP, UNAP, IAM and the Rhode Island AFL-CIO has been sent to Governor Raimondo, Senate President Ruggerio, and House Speaker Mattiello urging a significant increase in pay for Direct Service Providers who provide services and care to close to 4,000 Rhode Islanders living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Please see attached letter and stand with our brothers and sisters who provide this critical service.
PROVIDENCE RI. Thursday, November 15, 2018—The World Peace Prize has come to the smallest State in America.
Presently, the World Peace Prize— founded in 1989 and headquartered in Seoul, South Korea—is focusing on the huge contribution the Labor Movement has made to equality, justice and peace, not only nationally but globally.
And on Thursday, November 15, the World Peace Prize," Roving Ambassador for Peace," was presented to George Nee, noted Labor Leader, and President of Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
The presentation ceremony was chaired by Barbara Flaherty, Judge and Corporate Manager, World Peace Prize and Executive Vice President of the Capitol Hill-base Irish National Caucus. She welcomed the large turn-out in the Rhode Island Convention Center and introduced both Fr. Sean McManus, Chief Judge, World Peace Prize, and President of the Irish National Caucus.
In his remarks, Fr. Mc Manus said:" As new Judges based in the Nation's Capital, we wanted to make a signature innovation to the World Peace Prize: to squarely place the American Labor Movement in the category of those who work for peace. Labor leaders who spend their entire lives working in solidarity for justice for working men and women are indeed working for peace—not only nationally but also globally. Hence, Labor leaders are eminently qualified to be candidates for the World Peace Prize of "Roving Ambassador for Peace. Of course, a memorable quote by Pope John Paul II, from one of his great Encyclicals helped us to make the case. Reflecting on the maxim "peace is the fruit of justice," the pope declared: “Today, one could say, with the same exactness and the same power of biblical inspiration peace is the fruit of solidarity.” (“Solicitude for social concerns”). 39. 1988.
President Nee expressed deep appreciation for receiving the Prize, and great humility, stating he was accepting it on behalf of all members of the AFL-CIO in Rhode Island. He also paid homage to his "patron Saint," the late famed Cesar Chavez, for whom he worked in earlier days. According to Fr. McManus, "George Nee is the quintessential, totally authentic Labor leader. He is a most impressive man. Cesar Chavez would be proud of him, and so should the entire Labor Movement in America."
As is now, the practice of the Irish National Caucus at the end of these events, the Irish American Peace Prize is also presented to a worthy recipient—one who has shown steadfastness in standing up for equality, justice and peace in Ireland. This time the recipient was George McLaughlin of Providence. Mr. Mc Laughlin is a longtime campaigner for justice in The North/Northern Ireland. He is most recently known for his good work in arranging to erect a tombstone in Philadelphia for Robert Cranston and Thomas Darragh, two of the Fenian heroes to escaped from the Australian penal colony on the good ship Catalpa in 1876.
CAPITOL HILL. August 28, 2018—For the first time a Rhode Island Labor leader will be honored with the World Peace Prize.
The World Peace Prize Awarding Council (WPPAC) has announced that George Nee president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, will receive the prestigious prize of "Roving Ambassador for Peace."
The presentation ceremony will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2018, 2:30-4:30 PM, Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street. Providence, RI 02903.
World Leader and Master Planner, Rev. Dr. Han Min Su, founded the World Peace Prize in Seoul, South Korea, in 1989. Dr. Han is a Presbyterian Minister.
Dr. Han said: “Our Washington office, headed by Fr. Sean Mc Manus and Barbara Flaherty of the Irish National Caucus, nominated the Honorable George Nee. Our 14-member Board of International and Interfaith judges unanimously selected Mr.Nee. Our Board is comprised of representatives of the world’s nine major religions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Russian Orthodox, and Zoroastrianism. We congratulate Mr. Nee while also knowing that his acceptance honors our noble idea and mission of world peace.”
Fr. Sean Mc Manus — President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus and Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (WPPAC)— said: “I have the honor of being the Chief Judge of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council (headquartered in Seoul, South Korea).
We were pleased to be able to propose George Nee because of the intrinsic link between justice and peace: peace is, indeed, the fruit of justice. Labor Leaders who spend their entire lives working in solidarity for justice for working men and women are, indeed , working for peace—not only nationally but also globally. Hence, Labor leaders — and George Nee in particular—are eminently qualified to be candidates for the World Peace Prize of Roving Ambassador for Peace. Furthermore, our Peace Prizes encourage members of the Labor Movement to positively think of themselves as not just fighters for justice but as peace builders as well. I believe this gives an important dimension to Labor's self-understanding, self-image, and self-identity. And, I urge all members of the Labor Movement to embrace it —as I know George Nee does. So, too, does the national president of the AFL-CIO, the great Richard L. Trumka."
Mr. Nee said: “I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this prestigious prize. The recognition by the World Peace Prize Awarding Council that there is an inextricable link between the work of the Labor movement in its historic struggle for economic justice for all workers and peace will encourage increased activities for a more peaceful and just world.”