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.
By Paul V. Palange
PROVIDENCE – Maureen Martin didn’t know it at the time, but growing up in a family of 14 children helped prepare her to be a labor leader.
“I obviously didn’t realize it … but I was learning how to negotiate. As one of 14, I was always negotiating with my parents or we (the children) were negotiating with each other,” she said during a telephone interview.
Martin used those negotiating skills in several union roles for many years, including more than 10 as secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, a paid part-time position. With two years left in her term, she relinquished that slot to finally start her retirement. Martin, who will turn 72 next month, was succeeded by Patrick Crowley, who ran unopposed and was sworn into office by AFL-CIO President George Nee on Feb. 24.
In remarks asking for the support of his brothers and sisters, Crowley thanked Martin for her service and said, “Your leadership is the living embodiment of what I and others can only hope to aspire to. Your dedication to working people, especially to raising up the voices of working women is without parallel, and I pledge to you and to all of you here tonight that I will do my best to continue that important work.”
In addition to her AFL-CIO post, Martin was director of political activities for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals for 12 years. She also worked as development director for the Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies & Research (ILSR) and was president of the American Federation ofState, County andMunicipal Employees Local1293 that represented workers at the former Ladd School in Exeter.
Martin was the first woman elected as a general officer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, which was fitting for someone that realized women were disenfranchised in the labor movement due to circumstances such as family responsibilities and male dominance in “the establishment.” She worked to make the voices of women heard through the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD), and has concentrated on increasing the number of women on the AFL-CIO board.
In the 1990s, she joined the board of a CLUW chapter and served as its president before the organization disbanded. Martin and a fellow board member organized WILD, and in 2015, Martin reestablished the CLUW chapter. She said several women have benefited from WILD, learning or improving communication skills such as testifying before legislative bodies and writing letters to the editor and op-ed pieces.
Martin “loved” union work because she “loves helping people.” “The labor movement is so important because it’s the last line of defense against corporate greed,” she said. “If we weren’t working on behalf of workers, it would be like going back 1,000 years.”
She described Crowley as an energetic, smart and committed labor activist as well as a “great feminist.” Martin is confident Crowley’s knowledge and use of technology will be a “big boost” and help yield results for the membership.
Crowley, who became a member of the AFL-CIO executive committee in 2017, said his top priorities include working with Nee to establish the strongest political program possible; ensuring that the voices of younger people, women and people of color get lifted up as much as possible; keeping the union in strong financial shape; and organizing as many workplaces as possible.
He explained a strong political program entails campaigning to “elect people to public office who share labor’s values and who know what it’s like to be a working class Rhode Islander.”
Crowley, 47, is the government relations director for the National Education Association Rhode Island, a position he has held for 15 years. Previously, he worked for Teamsters Joint Council 10 in Boston as an organizer for five years and for Local 767 of the Service Employees International Union for five years, representing hospital and nursing home employees on Cape Cod. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Bridgewater State University and a master’s degree in labor studies from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
In a letter to union members soliciting support to become secretary-treasurer, Crowley states he serves on the boards of the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational and Environmental Health Center of Rhode Island because “worker safety is one of the core functions of the labor movement.”
He states he teaches in the Leadership for a Future program at the ILSR to help labor’s emerging leaders and that as secretary-treasurer he is committed “to making sure the next generation of union organizers and activists has the support they need to build power for working people for years to come.”
Prior to being elected on Feb. 24, Crowley said, “I will fight alongside you to make sure every worker in Rhode Island is paid a living wage, has a safe place to work, fair health care and retirement benefits and most importantly a voice on the job with a strong union. We face well-funded anti-union forces (that) will stop at nothing to erase the gains we have won for our members. Together, we can make progress for the working class and help build a better, more decent society.”
While Martin and Crowley have the position of secretary-treasurer in common, they also feel that one their proudest moments was when the labor movement stepped up in 2013 to help pass marriage equality in Rhode Island. It took 16 years for the bill to pass, Martin said, and it occurred the first year labor became involved.
“To see so many union leaders speak up and publicly display their faith that an injury to one is an injury to all was inspiring,” Crowley said.
The Providence Journal
By Katie Mulvaney
Journal Staff Writer Posted Mar 3, 2020 at 11:24 AM
PROVIDENCE -- Longtime teachers-union lobbyist Patrick Crowley was unanimously elected as the next secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, representing nearly 80,000 workers in diverse industries across the state.
In that capacity, he will serve as the number two person behind R.I. AFL-CIO President George Nee.
He succeeded Maureen Martin, who is retiring after 10 years as secretary-treasurer. The election, in which Crowley was not contested, took place Feb. 24.
Crowley said he will fill out the remaining two years of Martin’s four-year term. Previously, he served on the executive board.
Crowley said his duties in the part-time role will be to help ensure the organization maintain a strong financial position, and working with affiliates to organize new members.
Currently, 19 percent of Rhode Island workers are unionized, Crowley said.
“There’s no reason we can’t get that to 25 percent in the near future. And that’s what I will work to do.
Crowley has dedicated 25 years in the labor movement, the last 15 at the National Education Association Rhode Island, where he now serves as its chief lobbyist as the assistant executive director in government relations.
For immediate release:
November 22, 2019
Labor leaders call on corporations to take responsibility for their employees’ healthcare coverage; urge General Assembly to close loophole that benefits large corporations, hurts taxpayers
Labor leaders are calling on large corporations to take responsibility for their employees’ healthcare coverage, and have announced that they plan to support legislation that will close a loophole allowing these big corporations to push employee healthcare costs on to taxpayers.
George Nee, President of the RI AFL-CIO, stated, “There is a loophole in the Rhode Island healthcare system allowing certain large corporations to avoid their responsibility to provide adequate coverage to their workers. Instead they shift employee healthcare costs to the state budget from their own balance sheet. Successful companies like Walmart, CVS, and Bank of America cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year by exploiting this loophole. This is corporate welfare and needs to be stopped.”
Nee continued, “Nearly one-in-four Rhode Islanders receive their healthcare from Medicaid programs, which is vital to the health and wellness of our state’s population. Medicaid works for our seniors, children, and working families. It is not fair when wealthy corporations use Medicaid programs to shift the cost of paying for low-wage workers’ healthcare to all of us as taxpayers without paying their fair share. This is even more offensive to Rhode Islanders’ sense of fair play when these corporations pay their CEOs exorbitant salaries.”
In 2018, Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon received $24 million in compensation, while CVS CEO Larry Merlo got a stunning $21.9 million, and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan took home a staggering $22.7 million.
“Clearly these companies can afford to pay more to ensure the people who work for them have access to quality affordable healthcare,” stated Patrick Quinn, Vice-President of 1199 SEIU New England. “High-quality healthcare is, and ought to be, a fundamental human right. But the hard-working people of Rhode Island, especially the people struggling to make ends meet in the service economy – people like home healthcare aides, food service workers, janitors, clerks and cashiers – should not have to see their tax dollars used to subsidize corporate greed.”
In recent years, Rhode Island has made great strides in reducing the number of residents who are uninsured. According to Healthsource RI, only 3.7% of Rhode Islanders were uninsured in 2018, down from 11% in 2012.
“It is hard to ignore the importance that a healthy workforce plays in our economy,” added Nancy Iadeluca, Rhode Island Director of UNITE-HERE 26. “A lower percentage of uninsured Rhode Islanders is good news for all of us. And while this progress has helped many, there’s plenty of work still to be done. We encourage elected leaders of Rhode Island to generate revenue in 2020 by addressing this loophole benefitting large for-profit corporations. We also hope the Governor again proposes policy which calls on corporations paying low wages to contribute to the stabilization of Medicaid programs from which they benefit. Our union members are eager to campaign, both at the State House and across Rhode Island, for passage of this important measure.”
# # #
George Nee, President of R.I. AFL-CIO receives the George Meany Service Award on November 15, 2019.
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May 23, 2019 Maureen Martin
The Rhode Island Coalition of Labor Union Women to hold press conference celebrating the donation of menstrual products from the #HelpASisterOutPeriod campaign.
Over 50,000 menstrual period products will be donated, providing 2,000 girls & women of lesser means with a month’s supply of free menstrual products.
WHO: In February, the Rhode Island Coalition of Labor Union Women (RICLUW), with the support of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP), Teamsters Local 251, and the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, launched the #HelpASisterOutPeriod campaign, to raise awareness for women who lack the financial means to purchase menstrual products. They are holding a press conference celebrating the end of their 1st Annual Menstrual Equity Drive, in which they collected menstrual products and monetary gifts for low-income girls and women.
Speakers will include Rhode Island Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff, Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale CEO Kate Brewster, President of RIFTHP Frank Flynn, and Rhode Island AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Maureen Martin.
WHAT: Press conference
WHEN: Tuesday, May 28th at 11:00 am
WHERE: Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
WHY: Rhode Island girls and women miss days of school and work every month because they cannot afford the menstrual products they need. The #HelpASisterOutPeriod campaign is not only raising awareness for menstrual health but it is smashing the period taboo by shedding light on the underprivileged girls and women that lack reliable menstrual care. The Rhode Island Coalition of Labor Union Women took on this challenge by raising 50,000 period products that will supply 2,000 menstruators with a month’s worth of free menstrual supplies.
As Women’s History Month comes to an end, it is a time to honor the outstanding achievements of women throughout history and celebrate the work that remains ongoing through various movements and organizations.
One such movement, #MeToo, was founded by Tarana Burke. Ms. Burke appeared at Roger Williams University before an enthusiastic audience where she explained: “The movement is about supporting and healing survivors, about organizing communities to become safe places, and about changing the culture of gender-based violence” (news, Feb. 14). It is not, she emphasized, about “taking down men,” but instead, it focuses on “making it safe for people to speak their truth.”
As for organizations, Time’s Up is working to change culture, companies, and laws to increase women’s safety, equity, and power at work. Established last year by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it has raised more than $22 million for its legal defense fund to support lower-income women and men seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
Several decades before the #MeToo and Time’s Up initiatives, another group of women was equally committed to addressing the needs of women in the workplace. Their goal was to create an organization focused on making unions more responsive to the needs of working women by providing a space for them to develop programs to help deal with their concerns. The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) is an affiliate of both the local and national AFL-CIO with local branches in states all over the country, including Rhode Island.
Both the national and state chapters of CLUW have joined with other groups committed to eradicating discrimination, but women know that there is much more work to do in this regard. To that end, CLUW is conducting and co-sponsoring various marches and peaceful demonstrations across the United States. Through these endeavors and public displays of solidarity, CLUW anticipates getting closer to the gender parity women have never experienced but have always deserved.
After all, as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”
Maureen Martin is president of the Rhode Island chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO.
The 9th Annual Providence Bruins RI Building Trades Night at The Dunk! Raised $2,146.00 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State!
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.”
The Woonsocket Little League Scores with a State-of-the-Art Concession Stand and Press Box Built by the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council, its Union Partners including Gilbane Construction and the Pawtucket Red Sox.
It was an extra special Opening Day at Napolean “Nap” Lajoie Field for the Woonsocket Little League this April. Not only was the weather picture perfect, so was the ballpark with its brand new addition - a 600-square-foot concession stand and press box worth an estimated $300,000. The official unveiling of the facility took place during a ribbon cutting ceremony following the little league’s player parade and ceremonial first pitch.
“On behalf of the City of Woonsocket, we are grateful for the hard work, commitment, and in-kind services and contributions from the Rhode Island Building Trades, the Pawtucket Red Sox, Gilbane Construction and many other union friends who have made the vision for a concession stand a reality,” expressed Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt. “We could not have done it without the altruism of Building Baseball. This facility will allow us to host tournaments so that players, parents, coaches, family and friends from all over the region can enjoy the game of baseball right here in our beautiful city.”
Building Baseball is a charitable partnership between the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council (RIB&CTC) and the Pawtucket Red Sox to further advance the revitalization of Little League fields and Babe Ruth ballparks in urban and underserved communities. This was Building Baseball’s first community project, with the concession stand dedicated in honor of the late, great Ben Mondor – the legendary Pawtucket Red Sox owner. The baseball icon was raised, schooled and began his career in Woonsocket’s Mills before turning the Pawsox from a bankrupt minor league baseball team into one of the most successful in baseball’s Triple-A International League.
“We know the positive impact the game of baseball has on youth and the life lessons it teaches,” stated Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the RIB&CTC and Business Manager of the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council. “This is one of the reasons we formed Building Baseball with the Pawtucket Red Sox - a vital, philanthropic institution in our state. Our highly skilled union tradesmen and women are proud to give back to the communities where we work and raise our families – a most basic tenet in the labor movement.”
Signatory Contractor Gilbane Construction was instrumental in building the concession stand with Ryan Brennan serving as its project manager. During the ribbon cutting, a plaque was also presented to the Mayor recognizing the many union contractors, companies and organizations who donated resources, materials and/or in-kind services for the project. The Building Baseball group broke ground for the concession stand in the fall and had it completed in record time for opening day.
Sabitoni added, “It has been a great experience working with Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt who is deeply passionate about her city and the youth in her community. We congratulate Woonsocket and hope all who play or come to watch a game here will enjoy the facility for many, many years to come.”
The Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council Generates Record Funds for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State at its Eighth Annual Providence Bruins Hockey Night.
Enjoying a Providence Bruins Game with fellow union members and their families has become an annual and most important tradition for the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council and the RI AFL-CIO. Not only is it a great night out, but it’s also an essential way for local tradesmen and women to help support the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State. (BBBSOS)
For the eighth year in a row, the Rhode Island Building Trades, along with its signatory contractors and partners, including the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, has hosted its annual Providence Bruins-RI Building Trades Hockey Night in support of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State. Sunday’s game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms raised a record $2,350.00! More than 1,200 tickets were sold, with $2 from every ticket going directly to the BBBSOS. More than a hundred BBBSOS mentors and their ‘littles’ also enjoyed the exciting hockey game, with great lower level seats and a free P-Bruins hat.
A special check presentation took place on the ice during the game’s first intermission, paying tribute to the hardworking men and women of the Rhode Island Building Trades, the RI AFL-CIO and their support of BBBSOS. Together they have raised more than $100-thousand dollars through various fundraising events.
“Our philanthropic union craftsmen and women care deeply about the charities they help support and the children and families who are served by these vital organizations,” stated Michael F. Sabitoni, RIBTC President. “They are our neighbors - our friends - our children’s friends - where we work and raise our own families. Collectively we know we can make a significant impact in helping to secure necessary funds BBBSOS depends upon every year in order to operate. That’s why this annual P-Bruins game has become an ever-growing tradition among the building trades and the RI AFL-CIO that we all look forward to.”
“We can’t thank the Rhode Island Building Trades and the entire labor community enough for their generous support hosting this successful fundraising event year after year,” emphasized Katje Alfonseca, BBBSOS Executive Director.