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Labor hails passage of Mass. casino legislation By Common Ground Staff The passage of long-sought-after legislation authorizing casinos in Massachusetts is being hailed as a victory by local labor leaders who say it will generate thousands of jobs and spur the economy. “It’s pretty simple,” said Francis Callahan, president of the 75,000-member Massachusetts Building Trades Council, which backed the legislation. “It’s economic development. It’s jobs. We view it as another industry to come into Massachusetts.” His counterpart at the Boston

Building and Construction Trades Council, Martin J. Walsh, agreed. “It begins to put jobs in the pipeline,” Walsh said, adding that it would also stimulate the economy. Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law in late November what is the most significant expansion of gambling in the Bay State in decades. The law authorizes up to three destination-resort casinos, plus a slot machine parlor. The three casinos would be located in southeastern, eastern and western Massachusetts.

Tens of thousands of new jobs Estimates on how many jobs will be created as a result vary, especially since the proposal went through several different legislative iterations before the final bill passed. In the summer of 2010, the Massachusetts Building Trades Council cited its southern Nevada counterpart, which had said that every 1 million square feet of construction translates into 1,000 construction jobs over a twoyear period. Based on the Nevada experience, Callahan said the casino

legislation could generate as many as 10,000 construction jobs. Late in 2009, the now-past president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Robert J. Haynes, told a joint legislative committee that bringing the casino industry to the Bay State would create tens of thousands of permanent jobs, in addition to thousands of construction jobs for the initial build-out of the casinos not to mention “indirect jobs” in areas surrounding the casinos. Earlier that year, the Labor See Casino, page 2

Future of Westerly Elizabeth Warren seen as Hospital in doubt a strong labor advocate By Common Ground Staff

By Common Ground Staff

WESTERLY, R.I. -- The future of Westerly Hospital, an economic anchor for this South County community and the employer of hundreds of workers, is in question after a Superior Court judge last month approved a petition to place the health care institution in receivership. The hospital sought the protections of receivership after running a $5 million deficit in its most recent fiscal year and failing to see a surplus in decades, according to one news report. “They basically couldn’t pay their bills, and they sought protection,” said Jack Callaci, a United Nurses and Allied Professionals’ (UNAP) field representative. Just weeks into the receivership process, Callaci, who is the union point man in the process, says it’s too early to forecast how it could impact hundreds of nurses, physical therapists, technicians, tradesmen and other workers represented in UNAP locals 5075 and 5104. It’s too soon for example, to say whether the court-appointed receiver with broad powers over hospital finances eventually may attempt to reopen collective bargaining agreements and re-negotiate wages and benefits, which has been the case in Central Falls. “There’s an awful lot of work he (the receiver) has to do and a lot has to happen,” Callaci said. See Hospital, page 2

At a time when the economy remains stuck in neutral, President Obama is slumping in the polls and exasperation over the wealth gap is at an all-time high, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has emerged as something of a liberal hero. Warren, a bankruptcy expert and Harvard law professor, is perhaps best known as a consumer advocate, which is just one example of her lifelong work on behalf of working families and the middle class, according to a campaign spokesperson. “In the U.S. Senate, Elizabeth will be a champion for working and middle class families, continuing a lifetime of advocacy and a record of effectively standing up to Wall Street and the big banks to protect consumers,” said campaign Press Secretary Alethea Harney. “Elizabeth believes that people who want to work together for better wages, for better health care and for better working conditions should have the right

United Nurses & Allied Professionals

to do so. She supports the Employee Free Choice Act and the right to organize.” Warren herself has working class roots. Her father was a maintenance worker and had a heart attack at a young age. That forced her mother to take a job as a receptionist at Sears and Warren to start working as a babysitter at the age of 9. When she turned 13, the future Harvard law scholar took a job as a waitress and became a public schoolteacher after graduating from college. So when Warren told a gathering of the Greater Boston Labor Council at a Labor Day breakfast last September that she felt like she was with family, she really meant it. “It is also possible that I feel this way because my brother John, who is now retired but was a crane operator and a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, called me and told me to behave myself,” Warren added. See Warren, page 4 R


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Good jobs, wages and benefits to come to Mass. with casinos Casino, from page 1 Resource Center at the University of MassachusettsBoston released a study touting the benefits of the gaming industry. The study pointed to the good jobs, wages and benefits that the gaming industry offers to the work force, especially to people without college degrees, women and minorities. “Frankly, we cannot pass up this opportunity to create these kinds of jobs,” Haynes told lawmakers in October 2009. “Where else are we going to find such substantial job creation? And where else are we going to create jobs with such incredible potential to be good jobs? I have heard few other ideas that have this much potential for the economy in Massachusetts.”

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Long battle for labor Gov. Patrick first aired the idea of expanding gambling in 2007. But some local labor leaders had been working to get the legislation passed for a decade, or longer. “The IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) worked hard for this legislation for the past ten years,” said Louis Ciarlone, the business manager at Local 123. “We fear without additional gambling, we all could have lost our jobs. So the passage of the casino bill gives us hope for the future.” Local 123 has slightly more than 180 members, including pari-mutuel betting clerks, assistant starters and valets at Suffolk Downs, a thoroughbred racetrack in East Boston. They still have one more hurdle to clear before their jobs are secure: the new casino commission must actually approve the construction of a casino at their location. Ciarlone is confident that Suffolk Downs has a competitive bid for one of the licenses, building on its history as a gambling institution for more than 70 years. “Our

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Hospital, from page 1 Not as bad as Central Falls But so far, pay, benefits and hours for his members have not been affected by the approval of the receivership, according to Callaci, a stark contrast to the high-profile bankruptcy of the City of Falls. Also, unlike Central Falls, talks between the courtappointed receiver, Mark Russo, and the UNAP locals are off to a good start, according to Callaci. “I really credit the receiver for reaching out to the union,” Callaci said. “We were very appreciative of the fact that he solicited our input and our support.” Russo did not respond to a request for comment. While the outcome of such talks may be unclear at this point, Callaci is certain that he wants to see the hospital remain a full-service health care institution. “We don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest, especially the community’s interest, to turn Westerly Hospital into a ‘treatand-street’ hospital,” he said, referring to hospitals in other states that have severely curtailed in-patient services. “We think that what’s very important here is that we maintain the jewels of all these community hospitals.” The ramifications of a worst-case scenario — the outright closure of the hospital — would spread beyond merely the health care arena. “From an economic development perspective, it would be devastating to Westerly if the hospital closed and 700 good-paying jobs evaporated,” Callaci said. The receiver is charged with examining how the hospital operates, reviewing its financial obligations and making recommendations on how to right the fiscal ship, Callaci said. “I think what’s likely to happen here is that the receiver is going to look for some kind of partnership,” he said. (401) 946-9940/946-3710 Fax: (401) 946-5060 E-mail:

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ownership has the best proposal, and we have the best location,” Ciarlone said. He said Suffolk Downs is the best location because it is in Greater Boston and on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Blue Line. Should a casino come to Suffolk Downs, Ciarlone expects a “substantial increase” in employment at the facility, although he did not have any estimates. An added advantage is that an enhanced facility would support jobs beyond East Boston, especially at farms and among horse breeders, according to Ciarlone. Next step: Casino commission Land across from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro has been mentioned as a potential site for a casino. In late December, however, the town’s Board of Selectmen torpedoed considering a proposal for a gambling and entertainment facility from the Kraft Group, owner of the New England Patriots, and Wynn Resorts, effectively shutting down the possibility of a casino being built there. Callahan said he does not have a preference on a location, but he did acknowledge Suffolk Downs will be a “serious” contender for one of the licenses. The next step is the establishment of the five-member casino commission, with appointments from the governor, attorney general and state treasurer. They have four months from the date that the bill was signed into law to name their appointees. The commission is tasked with approving bids for the casinos, and once they are constructed, it will serve as the regulatory agency for the industry. Walsh said he expects the commission will be well into the process of selecting a casino bid by the end of the year. Once a bid is approved, he said construction should begin right away. Hospital merger in the works? One potential partner is Lawrence & Memorial Hospital across the border, in New London, Conn. Such a partnership could take many forms — anywhere from a full-blown merger, to some kind of an affiliation or cost-sharing agreement. “There’s a lot of different ways two entities could work together,” Callaci said. In spite of the receivership, the year has also seen a lot of good news for the hospital. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association recently named Westerly Hospital a “Blue Distinction Center” for knee and hip replacement and, last month, the hospital was granted a three-year approval with commendation for its cancer program by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer — a distinction earned by just 10 percent of hospitals nationwide. “Nobody would say that the quality of care at the hospital is questionable; or the patient satisfaction,” Callaci said. In a statement, a top hospital official expressed confidence that the 90-year-old institution would emerge from receivership proceedings a stronger health care provider. “The Westerly Hospital will be a stronger institution, better positioned to serve our community over the long term. The hospital has served Washington and New London counties for nearly ninety years, and our goal is to ensure that it continues to provide our community with high quality, trusted health care services through this century and beyond,” said William G. McKendree, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees. While the future of the hospital, in theory, hangs in the balance, Callaci is optimistic for now. “I would say unequivocally we’re off to a very positive start,” Callaci concluded. “We’re at the beginning of the story, not the middle or the end.”

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“LaborVision” earns 2 first-place PEG awards A Coalition of 100,000 Page 8

Common Ground


There are many volunteer opportunities to help animals Unions have improved Rhode Island Union Workers and Retirees

of United Food and Commercial The Institute for Labor Studies Workers Local 328, speaking at the site & Research’s weekly public access of the Saylesville Massacre Memorial. television program, LaborVision, won The memorial commemorates the two first-place awards at the Rhode violent confrontation between Rhode Island Public Broadcasting System’s Island National Guard troops and union sixth annual PEG Awards Night held in textile workers of the Sayles Finishing November. Co. in Central Falls in September 1934. The PEG Awards recognize the best The show also included a performance non-professional, non-commercial By Dennis Tabella of a play of the Independent Textile PEG access programming produced for Defenders of Animals is an organization Union (ITU) Strike of 1934 performed Rhode Island television. PEG stands thatthe hasthree been types helping in Rhode at the Museum of Work and Culture in for ofanimals communityWoonsocket. based provided Cox Island access for more than 30 by years. You can be Communications: public access; part of the highly-regarded organization by First place in the Best Coverage Child Laws •of Social an Event orSecurity Meeting category educational access; andLabor government becoming a member for $25 per year. was awarded toWage “The Verizon access. A panel Overtime of cable television Pay • Minimum The Defenders of Animals strictly Strike,” which covered the activities production professionals fromis outside Health Insurance • Unemployment Insurance a volunteer organization. There are no of International Brotherhood of of Rhode Island judges the entries. Electrical Workers Local 2323 and the paid “Labor Day 2011” first-place Workers’ Compensation staff members so took that all the fundsfor Communication Workers of America Best Documentary Program. The show raised are used forPaid direct services such as Vacations •over Pension Plans the two-week period in August featured Jim Riley, secretary-treasurer veterinary attention, spaying and neutering

the quality of life for all working people.

2011, culminating in a rally in front of the Verizon corporate offices in Providence. “LaborVision,” which has been an award recipient each year it has entered the PEG Awards, was also a finalist in the Best Political/Community Issues Program category. More than 160 entries in 18 categories were received and judged in this year’s competition, and entry fees were donated to the Rhode Island Food Bank.

The Institute for Labor Studies & Research has produced “LaborVision” since 1986. Programming covers exclusively those issues that affect the lives of working families in the state, including government policy decisions and the political process, health care issues and public education. LaborVision airs weekly on Cox Cable Channel 14 and Verizon FiOS Channel 33. Show times are Tuesdays at 7 p.m.; Thursdays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays at 5 p.m.

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Learn more about the labor movement educational issues and works with students on school projects. Watch LaborVision each week on animal issues; others wish to be involved with making arts and crafts or Defenders of Animals conducts low-cost spay/neuter clinics, which Cox (Channel 14), Verizon (Channel 33) baked goods for fundraising events. volunteers help coordinate in cooperation with the Humane Association of and Full Channel (Channel 9) The organization has volunteers that foster dogs or cats; help to Northwestern Rhode Island’s Spay/Neuter Your Pet Program in Pascoag. every Tuesday @ 7pm, Thursday @ 8pm, transport companion animals to hospitals or new homes; or walk In addition, there are opportunities to be involved in the pet lost and and Saturday @ 5pm. Some volunteers are involved in letter-writing campaigns regarding

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Warren, from page 1 Warren: Unions key to era of economic prosperity In her speech, Warren credited labor unions with building the middle class in the wake of the Great Depression, ushering in decades of “economic peace and prosperity.” “Unions were a critical part of that growth,” Warren said. “Union membership tripled; wages, benefits and working conditions all improved. For 50 years as America got richer, America’s working families got richer; and for 50 years as our working families got richer, America in turn got richer and stronger. That was how it worked.” That synthesis of fairness and opportunity, according to Warren, began to unravel in the 1970s, and “accelerated into the 80s.” Wages have hit a plateau, while costs in health care, transportation and education have gone “through the roof,” according to Warren. That all came to a climax in the 2008 stock market and housing market crash, which marked the start of what some have called the “Great Recession.” Warren played a key role in the Democratic response to the recession under President Obama, laying the groundwork for the now-established U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau. She has credited organized labor with helping to win the battle to create the agency. “National and local, big and little, we all started pushing behind the same thing. We fought hard for this consumer agency and unions were part of the fight all of the way,” Warren told labor leaders. “And here’s

the best part: We won, we did it.” Agenda for working families Warren has outlined three broad policy priorities that would create jobs and rebuild the country’s economic strength. First, Warren has called for quality work force training -- from the university level to technical schools. Second, she backs increased investment in infrastructure. “We need better roads, better bridges, better mass transit, better water supply, better sewage — these are the basic pieces it takes to build goods and to be able to get them to market,” Warren said, alluding to water and sewer pipes in Massachusetts that were installed in the 1800s and are now crumbling. “Why aren’t we upgrading these now? We could create jobs and at the same time be investing in our future. This is what we need to do,” she added. A third key piece to all this, according to Warren’s campaign site, is making it easier for workers to organize. “If people want to work together for better wages, for better health care and for better working conditions, they should have the right to do so,” Warren says. She concludes: “Now is the time to rebuild America’s middle class. Instead of giving tax breaks to the already-rich and already-powerful, to the corporations and CEOs who have already made it, it’s time America recognized the working people and small businesses who are still trying to build a future.”

Elizabeth Warren

Early union endorsement By election standards, Warren is still early in her quest to fill the U.S. Senate seat held until fairly recently by another liberal hero, Ted Kennedy. Warren still faces a Democratic primary, followed by a general election battle with incumbent Scott Brown, a Republican. But she already has picked up at least one significant labor endorsement from the 23,000-member-strong Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). “Her dedication to the nation’s middle class … reflects one of the MNA’s key goals: restoring a basic standard of living for working people by creating financial remedies that hold Wall Street accountable while protecting those who live and work on Main Street,” said MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams in a statement.

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New Mass. AFL-CIO head lays out agenda By Common Ground Staff Steven Tolman, the new president of the Massachusetts AFLCIO, said changing the way organized labor is perceived and building a more unified movement to address gaping inequities in the economy are among the top priorities for his Steven Tolman term, in an exclusive interview with “Common Ground.� Tolman took the helm of the 400,000-member state AFL-CIO in early October. At the turn of the new year, he says working families face what he has described as the greatest inequity in wealth this country has ever seen. Not since the days of child labor, the observance of the weekend and the 40-hour work week, has there been such an economic divide between those working and those making money, Tolman says. “Over the past 40 years, middle-class purchasing power has decreased by over 40 percent. And a large chunk of this wage inequity is directly related to one thing: the decline in unions. And they want us to believe that’s fair,� Tolman said in his speech at the fall AFL-CIO convention.

The same corporations that are the source of inequities in the economy are also responsible for why organized labor has been depicted in a negative light in the media, according to Tolman. “Corporations (have) control of all the boards,� he said. One way to start changing how labor is perceived is to highlight all the work that union members do in their neighborhoods and communities. The same people coaching youth sports or volunteering at the soup kitchen are members of organized labor -- a fact that is not advertised, according to Tolman. Organized labor should continue to fight against social inequities and economic injustices, but it should also address injustices at the community level such as high crime rates and high rates of addiction, he said. “Organized labor should be focused on the everyday needs of the communities,� Tolman said.

organizing and union membership. “We all need to be cooking, talking, and sleeping under one tent,â€? Tolman said. “If we’re focused as a middle class, it’s harder to pick us apart,â€? he added. “Our biggest obstacle to success is not being unified. We have to be under one tent.â€? Beyond that, Tolman has called for a renewal of labor’s partnerships with environmentalists, community organizations, nonprofits, civil rights advocates and anyone else who is “fighting for the working and middle class.â€? ‘Take back what we lost’ As for concrete policy and legislative goals, his first priority is to get a robust jobs program to help an estimated quarter million Massachusetts residents who are out of work. “There’s a lot of people hurting out there. ‌ People are struggling,â€? Tolman said. “Let’s get a jobs program somewhere where people can afford their rent.â€? At the local and state levels, that might mean investing in infrastructure and creating opportunities for more environmentallyfriendly green jobs, according to Tolman. Nationally, he said organized labor supports President Obama’s jobs bill, which could create or save nearly 300,000 jobs around the country. He also plans to call for raising the minimum wage and linking it to the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, so that working families can “finally achieve financial stability.â€? In his speech to members, Tolman said that 75 percent of the increased profits for corporations over the last decade have come from cuts in wages, benefits, pensions and health care for working people. “But we know where the money went. And we know how to get it back: Organize; grow; return organized labor to the numbers and solidarity that made this country great, and take back what we lost,â€? Tolman said.

“Over the past 40 years, middle-class purchasing power has decreased by over 40 percent. And a large chunk of this wage inequity is directly related to one thing: the decline in unions. And they want us to believe that’s fair.� – Steven Tolman

Changing public perception Organized labor, in particular, finds itself on the defensive as recession-ridden states across the country struggle to balance budgets and reduce pension debt. Rather than being seen as part of the solution, Tolman said labor has been cast in the public eye as part of the problem. “The first and I think the main big picture obviously is to change the way we are looked at and portrayed,� he said. “I would like to see the ALF-CIO looked at from a far more positive light.�

“Being part of the neighborhood; looking out for the neighborhood; that’s organized labor.� Call for unity Organized labor has been “outspent, out-spun and outnumbered,� but, according to Tolman, it has two weapons in its arsenal -- its members and its unity. During his term, one of his top priorities will be bringing more local labor organizations under the AFL-CIO umbrella. UNITE HERE 26 just rejoined, and some Service Employee International Union (SEIU) locals are in while others are not. He also wants to target new professions and trades for

Page 6

Common Ground


Are there millions of unclaimed scholarships available each year? By College Advisors Group

This myth has been circulating in our school systems for years. There are several books written each year touting there are millions of dollars of unclaimed scholarships each year, however, this is totally false. Putting the myth to rest Non-profit and for-profit organizations do distribute millions of dollars in scholarship funds each year, based on certain criteria. These funds are distributed to needy and/or talented students. However, the funds are only given out as long as the donor’s investment portfolio is adequate to distribute the funds. There are scholarships given out by Rotary Clubs, Churches, Men/Women Groups, etc. as well. During the years between 2001 to 2004 many of these organizations stopped or cut back on these scholarships because of the down-turn in the market. Also, these funds are given out on a very competitive standpoint and the average high school student who shows no need or talent (academically, etc.) will not qualify for most of these scholarships. So, if most of these non-profit and for-profit organizations are giving out all the money they can, where are all the millions of dollars in college scholarships going unclaimed? Most of the unclaimed scholarships come from employee benefit programs under IRS regulation Section 127 Educational Assistance programs. This assistance is mostly available to employees of corporations or small business owners. Educational Assistance according to the IRS Section 127(c)(1) of the Code provides that “educational assistance” means (A) the payment, by an employer, or expenses incurred by or on behalf of an employee for education of the employee (including, but not limited to, tuition, fees, and similar payments, books, supplies, and equipment), and (B) the provision, by an employer, of courses of instruction for such employee (including books,

supplies, and equipment), but does not include payment for, or the provision of, tools or supplies which may be retained by the employee after completion of a course of instruction, meals, lodging, or transportation. Accordingly, based on the information provided and representations made, the first $5,250 in educational assistance provided to an employee during a calendar year under the Plan will not be included in the employee’s gross income pursuant to section 127(a) of the Code. If the employees do not take advantage of this free money, they go UNCLAIMED. Plus, if the student is not an employee of the company, they cannot receive these college funds. Unclaimed scholarships from colleges or universities Most state supported colleges do not have a substantial amount of

scholarship funds to help the average college student. Most of the money that is given out by the college’s foundation is normally given for campus improvements or special needs of the college or university. The scholarship funds available are normally given to the neediest or the high academic or talented (athletic, musical, etc) students. Federal and state government scholarships Most of the scholarship/grants given out through state governments are normally based on need only. Some states like Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida have merit scholarships available to students that maintain acceptable grades in high school. The two most popular need-based grants that are available through the

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Federal Government are the Pell Grant and SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) programs. The Pell Grant of the past would cover a substantial amount of college expenses. However, this grant program has not kept pace with the rising cost of a college education. Most families also do not understand is that a student cannot qualify for the SEOG grant unless they qualify for the Pell Grant first. If a student were to attend a private college or university, there is a high likelihood they will receive some scholarship/grant money. Private colleges receive little or no support from state taxing authorities. Therefore, they charge more for their education compared to state supported colleges and universities. Most private colleges need to compete for students with state supported colleges. In order to compete (based on cost), many will normally offer a qualified student scholarship money to help pay for the higher cost of the education. The amount of the scholarship will vary depending on the student’s financial need and/or the academic or athletic ability of the student. If a student has a high financial need and the student is not an above average student academically, some colleges may not offer admission or offer a smaller scholarship to discourage the student from attending due to the high need for financial assistance. Many private colleges like to advertise they are “need blind” and boast they always provide 100% of financial need to all admitted students. However, if the family has a very high need, the student my not be admitted due to this high need. To find out how to qualify for more need or merit scholarship money call 401-821-0080 or email: gayle@collegeadvisorsgroup. com for your free phone or in person consulation. Visit www. for more information.

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Common Ground


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RIARA: Wyden-Ryan Medicare plan would raise premiums for seniors By John A. Pernorio

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a leader in the fight to privatize Medicare, has unveiled a new approach to save money on the federal health program. According to “Politico,” the proposal has some key differences from the Ryan blueprint that Republicans had rallied around last year and which Democrats have criticized as the beginning of the end of Medicare. Working with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Ryan is developing a framework that would allow seniors to choose between staying in traditional Medicare and opting into new private plan alternatives. Wyden is the first Democrat on Capitol Hill to so strongly embrace a modification of Ryan’s approach. Seniors would receive a set amount of money from the government to buy private insurance vouchers as they would under the Medicare proposal Ryan included in the budget blueprint that passed the House last year. The proposal still installs a cap on total Medicare spending; under the RyanWyden approach, seniors would have to pay the difference between the sticker price for care and the premium support or subsidy, although low-

income people would get more help. Ryan and Wyden said they would not draft legislation because Ryan does not expect action on major issues such as Medicare until a new Congress is seated in 2013. However, they said that by forcing private insurers to bid to provide Medicare coverage and encouraging beneficiaries to choose the plan with the lowest costs, the measure could drive down costs. To see the full “Politico “article on the proposal, go to We’ve been to this rodeo before. Once again, guaranteed benefits would be replaced with vouchers. It’s like handing every senior one single dollar and saying, spend it however you like then bragging about how much money the government is saving. Early retiree health care program funding ends The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP) is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), providing reimbursement to eligible sponsors of employment-based plans for a portion of the costs for health coverage to early retirees and their beneficiary. However, CMS has decided that, based on the remaining

available funds, ERRP reimbursement requests that include claims incurred after Dec. 31, will be denied in their entirety. The CMS decision is based on the amount of ERRP funds and the rate at which reimbursements have been disbursed, as opposed to projected ERRP reimbursements that applicants listed in their applications. Under the program, $5 billion had been available, and that has been exhausted. Fair pay for home care workers may be coming soon The 18th initiative in President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign against Congress has the Department of Labor proposing a rule that will allow nearly 2 million home care workers to qualify for federal wage and overtime protections. Home care workers are essential in attending to our nation’s elderly and disabled citizens, and their jobs have evolved to include services such as managing medications and monitoring vital signs. Yet, the average home care worker earns $17,000 to $20,000 a year -- more than the $7.25-per-hour minimum wage, but low enough to put many beneath the poverty line and enable them to qualify for public

assistance. The new rule would ensure that home health care workers receive the same minimum wage and overtime protections as virtually all other working people. The nation’s over-65 population is projected to grow from 40 million people to 72 million people by 2030, and the government estimates that 27 million Americans will need home care by 2050. By allowing fair pay and overtime, the home care industry will be able to attract new workers while reducing turnover among existing employees. Payroll tax cut update Senate negotiators reached a deal on Dec. 16 on a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and Medicare payments to doctors. The deal requires President Barack Obama to make a decision within 60 days whether to permit the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transfer oil from Canada to Gulf of Mexico refineries. The White House has resisted being forced into expediting a decision. Stay Tuned. John A. Pernorio is president of the Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans. Contact him at japernorio_




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Common Ground


Bread & Roses Strike centennial to be commemorated The Great Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, better known as the Bread & Roses Strike, is one of the most famous events in America labor history, and its 100th anniversary will be commemorated this year with a number of events. Programs in Lawrence, Mass., are being planned by a number of organizations that are working together as the Bread & Roses Centennial Committee. Major events include real and online exhibits opening on Jan. 12, the date on which the strike began, a conference, an exhibit of works by famed labor artist Ralph Fasanella and the 28th Annual Bread & Roses Labor Day Festival. The Centennial Committee believes that labor history is more important in today’s conditions of increasing inequality and growing corporate power. Unfortunately, America’s labor history, which did so much to build our now beleaguered middle class, is sadly unknown and under-appreciated. According to the committee, the Bread & Roses Strike, one of the rare instances of a workers’ victory in the era of Homestead, Pullman, Ludlow and the

Triangle Fire, offers a dramatic and inspiring story. Under the leadership of legendary Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizers such as “Big Bill” Haywood, more than 20,000 immigrant workers overcame language and other differences to defeat powerful mill owners and a hostile government. The strike has become famous for the leading role of women, and its role in exposing the abuses of child labor. Sadly, the story of the strike was a repressed memory in Lawrence for decades, an extreme example of the marginalization of our labor history and the demonization of collective action and of criticism of free market capitalism, the committee believes. Those issues of memory and of who “owns” history will also be addressed in the centennial programs as will the question of the relevance of the past to the issues of today. The Centennial Committee is chaired by Bob Forrant, a history professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a former union official. The committee includes members of the Bread &

Roses Heritage Committee, Lawrence History Center, Lawrence Heritage State Park and Lawrence Public Library. Among the many supporters of the centennial are the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Merrimack Valley Central Labor Council, UMASS- Lowell, Mass Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council and Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. For more information and a calendar of events, go to

Appeals court upholds worker retention law PROVIDENCE – The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently affirmed a city ordinance that gives hotel workers a right to their jobs for 90 days after a change in ownership or the subcontracting of a department. “An Ordinance Relative to Hospitality Business Protection and Worker Retention,” was passed by the

City Council in 2010, and upheld by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary Lisi on March 31. The appeals court rejected the arguments of Providence hotel owners that the progressive city ordinance violates employers’ rights under the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act. “Hotel workers throughout the city should applaud

this decision and the ordinance. It will provide stability to the workers and their families and this important industry which provides so many jobs to people working in our Capital City,” stated Chris Cook, vice president of UniteHere Local 217 and an employee of the Westin Hotel.

Whether you are a union member or not, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO is committed to preserving the rights of all workers and advocating for decent wages, health and retirement benefits, safer workplaces, and a dignified quality of life for all working families. During these difficult times, now more than ever, workers need a strong, unified voice speaking out on each other’s behalf. By advocating for all workers, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO is working to preserve the middle class, and protect you and your family. Steven Tolman President

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Common Ground



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The amount of money Rhode Island should have available for surface transportation capital spending over the next four years could exceed $1.1 billion. To determine how to spend the funds, the Statewide Planning office is developing a four-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), addressing all the road and transit projects the state intends to implement. The first step was to ask all the cities and towns, the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), other state agencies and interested nonprofits to review unfinished projects in the current TIP and prioritize them along with new submissions. Those entities submitted more than 250 projects, far more than can be funded anytime soon. Some high-priority submissions were replacing the I-95 viaduct in Providence; new ramps at Route 4 and I-95 south (even though that might cost about $75 million) and along Route 403 at West Davisville; the Appanaug bypass; a bikepedestrian bridge across the old I-195 piers in Providence; extending and operating the commuter rail to Wickford Junction and restoring a commuter rail stop on PawtucketCentral Falls border; a streetcar line in Providence; a waterfront drive connector in East Providence just south of Beverage Hill; sidewalk projects in Barrington; Blackstone Bikeway additions and new bike connections at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and between Warwick and East Greenwich.

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Common Ground


National Labor News Musicians like the sound of NLRB ruling By Mike Hall

Musicians in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Texas can play a happy tune following a ruling late last month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that says musicians in symphony orchestras are employees with the freedom to join unions—not

independent contractors. Members of the Lancaster (Pa.) Symphony Orchestra sought to join the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the union filed a petition for an election, but an NLRB regional director ruled the musicians were

independent contractors and thus ineligible for union representation. The Board’s 2-1 decision reversed that ruling and sent the case back to the region for further action. Citing the Lancaster ruling, the NLRB issued decisions the following day that the

musicians in the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra and the Plano Symphony Orchestra are also employees with the right to join a union. Mike Hall is a blogger for the AFL-CIO.

Important step taken to protect employees’ rights

While unions have not seen the changes they would have liked from the Obama administration, a new rule may give unions a modest boost, according to an online article from Reuters. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month unveiled a rule that is expected to shorten the time frame for union elections, which the board runs. The rule would limit pre-election legal challenges and give more authority to NLRB hearing officials to speed up the process, the Reuters’ article states. The goal of the rule is to give employees who have petitioned for an election the right to vote in a timely manner and without the impediment of

needless litigation, according to NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce, a Democratic appointee of President Barack Obama. Lawyers for the largest businesslobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, filed a lawsuit in Washington to try to block the rule, which is scheduled to take effect on April 30. The Chamber argues election periods could become so short that they could “ambush” employers and violate their free-speech rights, the article states. The rule echoes a high-profile dispute from Obama’s first year in office in 2009 over how to run unionization elections. Unions had hoped a Democratic-led Congress would give them the option of using “card check” elections, in which

workers decide whether to unionize by signing a petition. The idea failed, leaving unions with the secret ballots that employers say reduce the chance of intimidation. Unions have since turned their attention to what the NLRB can do. According to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the new NLRB rule is a critical step but more has to be done to protect workers’ rights. U.S. union membership has dropped. In 2010, 11.9 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was down from 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year for which comparable data is available, according to Reuters. The NLRB strategy has limits for

unions because one of their allies, Craig Becker, a former lawyer for the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International unions, was forced recently to leave the board because he never received U.S. Senate confirmation. After Becker leaves, the NLRB will not have the quorum it needs to function unless the Senate confirms Obama’s pending nominees or Obama appoints them during a Senate recess, according to Reuters. On a separate front, congressional Republicans want to limit the NLRB’s authority by passing legislation to set election timelines and specify which employees could vote in a union election.

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Effort to override governor’s veto of right to work law falls short By Kevin Landrigan CONCORD, N.H. — The House of Representatives fell 12 votes short of overturning a veto by Gov. John Lynch, ending a long and bitter campaign to make New Hampshire the only state north of Virginia to have an anti-union right to work law. The 240-139 vote came after months of private meetings House Speaker William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) had with wavering Republican members and very public displays of opposition from union members from across the state. The outcome was shy of the two-

thirds majority needed to override a governor’s veto. The hordes of supporters and opponents who turned out for the vote were so numerous that O’Brien had a closed circuit TV set-up room to handle the overflow. Union members wore red T-shirts urging lawmakers to oppose right to work; supporters wore green shirts with “Yes” stitched across the front. The bill (H.B. 474) would have outlawed the collective bargaining practice of requiring non-union

members to pay a fee to cover labor costs. Milford Republican State Rep. Gary Daniels said right to work is a matter of personal freedom. “Let those who wish to associate with unions freely associate to do so and let the unions be responsive to the needs of them,” Daniels said. “Let us also show compassion for the worker who, for whatever reason, chooses not to associate. Let them to be free of choosing an alternative course of action.”

Manchester Democratic Rep. Jeff Goley said the override would make New Hampshire a magnet for lower wage and benefit jobs, and that there’s no compelling need for such conditions in the state with the nation’s fourth lowest unemployment rate. He also attacked media advertising efforts of conservative interest groups in support of the law. “Don’t let a special interest group from outside the state come here and tell New Hampshire what is right for our state,” Goley said.

Common Ground


Page 11

Holiday food baskets donated to needy families

EAST PROVIDENCE -- The East Providence Democratic City Committee, aided by the generosity of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) Local 328 and Stop & Shop, was able to make 50 holiday food baskets that were distributed to needy families from all four of the cities wards. Names of the families were submitted anonymously and the baskets were delivered by committee volunteers to gracious and appreciative recipients. The volunteers included Mayor Bruce Rogers, Assistant Mayor Tommy Rose, Councilwoman Katie

Kleyla, state Rep. Roberto DaSilva, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Representative John Faria and Local 328 Union Representative Domenic Pontarelli. “I’m thankful to be able to participate in assisting those in need in our community,” Mayor Rogers said. “During these difficult times and at this holiday season, being able to participate in spreading some cheer in the way of a nourishing meal is very heartwarming.” The mayor also stated that he was honored to be a major part of a true display of Townie pride. p. 401.451.1305 l f. 401.831.6111 111 Wayland Ave. l Providence, RI 02906

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Common Ground


Tolman speaks out on special Senate election By Common Ground Staff

He may not have won, but the Massachusetts AFLCIO is counting the performance of the candidate it backed to replace its new president in the state Senate as something of a victory. The union-backed Steven Tolman candidate to replace Steven Tolman was Bob McCarthy, a Vietnam veteran and former longtime president of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts. In a four-way Democratic primary held on Dec. 13, McCarthy came in third, with 22 percent of the vote, which Tolman said he considers a strong showing for someone who had never run for elective office and ran against two sitting state

representatives — two legislators whom he said had voted against collective bargaining rights for municipal employees in health care. “He did all he could do. We did all we could do,” Tolman told “Common Ground.” “You could say that he didn’t win. You can’t say that he lost because he stood up for exactly what is right with the middle class.” The winner of the Democratic primary was state Rep. William Brownsberger of Belmont, with 35 percent of the vote. Rep. Jonathan Hecht of Watertown edged out McCarthy for the second place spot by just four percentage points. Tim Schofield, a Boston attorney, was a close fourth, with 19 percent of the vote. In addition to Belmont and Watertown, the district known as the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District, encompasses part of Cambridge as well as Allston, Brighton and Back Bay. After the primary, Tolman released the following

statement: “The labor movement stood on principle in this election, and we will do so every time we have the chance. Workers can only be part of the debate if more of us run for office and fight for these principles. I am proud of my union brother, Bob McCarthy, for giving working families in the district a chance to focus on our issues and am grateful to him for his strong campaign.” He continued: “It was an honor to serve the families of the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District just as it is an honor to serve the members of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. I congratulate Rep. Brownsberger on the honor he has received from these great voters and wish him well in his service of the men and women of the district.” A general election for the seat is set for Jan. 10, but, as of last month, no Republican or other independent candidate had announced a run for the seat.


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Common Ground


New UNAP president hits the ground running By Common Ground Staff

Helene Macedo is barely two months into her term as president of Local 5098 of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) at Rhode Island Hospital, but she is no stranger to the duties that come with her new position. Helene Macedo By the time that she was elected as president of the 2,300-member local, she had already served as the interim president, filling out the remaining two years of the term of her predecessor, Linda McDonald, who had left to take a post in the regional UNAP office. Macedo came into office this fall with one major achievement already under her belt: Over the summer, she had successfully negotiated a new four-year contract for her members, guaranteeing no layoffs for anyone with five years or more of service, wage increases between 5 percent and 16 percent and no increase in employee health insurance rates. Macedo said she decided to run for election because there still is a lot to be done, including making sure that the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement are enforced as well as continuing to push for ever-higher standards in safety and quality care. ‘Not 9 to 5’ On any given day, Macedo has her hands full with the normal responsibilities of her position -- meetings with human resources and management, fielding member questions and overseeing unit representatives. On top of all that, she is called upon to represent employees in disciplinary matters and is constantly keeping tabs on the any grievances and arbitrations

that are pending. At the moment, the union is engaged in seven arbitrations with the hospital. When the General Assembly is in session, she also has to keep a watchful eye on any legislation that might affect her members. “It’s definitely not a 9-to-5 thing,” she said, adding that it’s normal for her to be responding to e-mails and phone calls almost up until midnight. Accessibility to her members is something she hopes will be a trademark of her presidency, which means being more than just being a phone call or e-mail away. At least one day a week, she is side by side with her members, working as a nurse in the operating room. “I enjoy the patient contact and I just feel it’s important — even helping me as president — to really still have the hands on and really have a pulse as to what’s going on in the hospital by actually working there,” Macedo said. A hands-on approach Compared with the burdens she bears as president, working in the operating room has its advantages. “I wouldn’t say it’s my easy day, but it’s my day when being in an operating room, you can only deal with one patient at a time as opposed to when I’m … functioning as the union president, there’s always more than one thing going on at every moment,” Macedo said. “So when I’m in the OR, that isn’t easier but it’s nice to be able to focus on one patient at a time as opposed to trying to juggle lots of issues at one time.” Macedo began working as a registered nurse at Rhode Island Hospital in 1985. From the very beginning, she was active in the union. Over the years, she slowly rose through ranks, from unit representative




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An avid skier and marathon runner Macedo lives in Cranston with her husband, Gary, who works in a related profession, as an employee of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. But it was actually their shared passion for outdoor sports that brought the two together — specifically, a chance encounter during a whitewater rafting trip with their co-workers in Maine about 20 years ago. In recent years, Macedo, who is also an avid skier, has put her athleticism to work on behalf of improved health care for others. She is a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training, known as TNT. Since 2007, she has run seven marathons and almost as many triathlons on behalf of the organization, raising about $10,000 — money that she says has led to new treatment for cancer. “No matter what I get myself involved in, I put myself whole in it,” Macedo said. “I’m kind of that way with everything — family, friends, work.” And now, she is bringing that same level of commitment to her work as head of the union. As president, she has a term of just three years, but for this marathon runner it’s no sprint to the finish line. Macedo, who is in her 40s, says she’s in it for the long haul.

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to treasurer to union liaison. Service came naturally to her, she said, after watching her father, Peter Simone, serve as a town councilman in North Providence. She says she finds fulfillment in knowing that she cannot only be a voice for her members, but ensure that they have a voice in their workplace without fear of retribution for speaking out. “I take pride and enjoyment in being able to be a major part of that,” Macedo said.

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Common Ground

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RI AFL-CIO rallies for extension of unemployment benefits By Common Ground Staff Once again, it came down to an eleventh-hour vote on a renewal of extended unemployment benefits, which was finally approved by the U.S. House late in December, but the victory could be a short-lived one because benefits are set to expire once again in just two months. Earlier in December, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO held a rally in Providence at the netWORKri office, thanking the allDemocratic Rhode Island congressional delegation for backing the continuation of benefits. AFL-CIO President George Nee blamed Republican recalcitrance for blocking the legislation. “The real reason is that they just want to continue to make Obama look bad,” Nee said. “This is the safety net for people,” Nee added. “These are people who are unemployed through no fault of their own.” Had the benefits been allowed to expire, an estimated 8,800 Rhode Islanders would have lost benefits that average $382.69 per week, according to the AFL-CIO. “For some people, that’s whether or not they can pay their rent, buy food, (pay for) utilities,” Nee said. “Some of them are really in tough shape.” The loss of extended unemployment benefits also could have dealt a blow to the state economy. The AFL-CIO estimates that Rhode Island would have lost more than $3.3 million a week — money that it says goes directly back into the economy through local grocery stores, gas stations, landlords and utilities. In fact, for every $1 invested in unemployment insurance, the economy expands by $2, according to the AFLCIO. Unemployed running out of options But at a rally in early December, all the attention was on the faces behind

the statistics. One was Wayne Morris Jr., 46, of Warwick, who has been out of work since March 2011. “I got to watch every penny I spend,” Morris said. “We just have to cut back on everything.” That means everything from laying off the better cuts of meat at the grocery store to holding off any vacations. His wife is employed by the Department of Homeland Security at the T.F. Green Airport, but her income alone would not be enough to support their household, according to Morris. At that time, Morris was in a particularly precarious position: He was already seeking an extension of his benefits, which could give him another six to 20 weeks, he wasn’t quite sure. Were his unemployment benefits to expire, Morris, who is a carpenter by trade, says he would have to abandon his profession. He says his alternatives are few and far between and include jobs such as working at McDonald’s or Burger King. “So basically, the unemployment benefit is very important,” Morris said. For Mary Grace Quinn, another out-of-work carpenter, unemployment likewise has had a range of consequences. “I have to look for alternative ways to make ends meet,” Quinn said. She says she doesn’t eat out, and she travels less. And, she adds, she can’t help others as much as she once could. “Now, instead of writing a check to (charity), I put a couple of dollars in the Salvation Army cauldron at the supermarket,” she said. Also like Morris, Quinn, who lives in West Warwick, has a spouse who is employed. Her husband is selfemployed as a securities trader — a job

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that ordinarily might be good enough to support a household but not in this economy, Quinn said. Carpenters: ‘We’re shrinking’ In Carpenters Local 94 alone, unemployment is 35 percent to 40 percent, far higher than the statewide rate of approximately 10 percent, according to Tom Savoie, vice president of the local.

“We see it every day,” said Savoie, who is also an organizer for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “Unemployment … isn’t when it happens to someone else with us. We have members suffering every day.” Last time he checked, Local 94 had about 1,800 members. But that number is changing. “We’re shrinking,” Savoie said.

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Common Ground


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Gingerbread Express marks 20 years of service Last month, the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) Children’s Fund Gingerbread Express – an anonymous gift-giving program that connects needy students throughout the state with shoppers willing to add them to their gift lists – celebrated its 20th anniversary. Hundreds of Ocean State teachers, school and public employees and other friends of the fund step up with giant bundles of colorful gifts, providing the students with proper clothing and other basic necessities. The fund matched names of needy children with willing donors. Each child was identified on a gingerbread cutout by a number; along with clothing sizes and a wish list that helped shoppers make the

right choices. The generosity of donors grows by the year, with each spending more than $100 per child. Enormous bags and boxes – one for each student – filled the NEARI headquarters in Cranston. Students in East Providence, Westerly, South Kingstown, Smithfield, North Kingstown, Coventry, Warwick, Burrillville, Newport, Cumberland, Providence, Middletown and the Nickerson Community Center in Providence received gifts through the Gingerbread Express this year. Most gifts were delivered quietly through the front office of each school. In some cases, however, they arrived in a tractortrailer donated by Teamsters Local 251,

with real life “gingerbread” cookies as escorts. That special delivery occurred on Dec. 15 at the William D’Abate School in Providence, where 450 or so students received gifts due to the economic level of their families. There was a schoolwide celebration with refreshments, the reading of “The Tale of the Gingerbread Express” and many elves that passed out the huge parcels of presents. Two special guests shared the reading of the story – Tony Estrella, a Providence firefighter, and Mike Letourney, an NEARI representative from the Horace Mann Insurance Co. Plenty of other volunteers, including police officers and other firefighters, handed out gifts. Through the Gingerbread Express

program, state senators and their families “adopted” students from Providence’s Nickerson House. The donated gifts were gathered at the Statehouse for pickup on Dec. 16, which Sen. Hanna Gallo coordinated. The NEARI Children’s Fund operates throughout the school year. Any member of the education and public employee unions may call on the fund to assist needy students. The Children’s Fund is financed by money raised through payroll deduction, fund-raising events and direct donations. Valerie Staples coordinates the fund for the NEARI, and retired member MaryJo Poulio of East Providence serves as president of the fund.

RICOSH kicks off crucial fund-raising drive

RICOSH Executive Director Jim Celenza and his committee colleagues hope Ocean State residents think the work of the organization continues to merit their support. According to Celenza, during a busy 2011, RICOSH: • As part the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, trained more than 400 immigrant and young workers on their rights under Occupational Safety and Health Administration law. • Met with OSHA Director Dr David Michaels and OSHA Region 1 staff on immigrant worker safety and whistleblower issues. • Organized and cosponsored OSHA Region 1’s OSHA Listens Program in Rhode Island, a summit to provide vulnerable worker populations with education, training and assistance. • Was contacted by Human Rights Watch for assistance on lead poisoning of workers in battery plants in China. • Helped organize and sponsor a Labor Rights Week at the request of Consulates of Guatemala and Mexico. The purpose of the Labor Rights Week was to provide information and training to agencies organizations and communities throughout New England that work with immigrants. • Was appointed by the Center for Disease Control’s Office of Construction Safety to a national Green Construction Coordinating Committee, which is charged with incorporating workplace safety and health protocols into green building standards. RICOSH’s green during construction standard focuses on major air toxins and climate changing gases and has been adopted as an ordinance in Providence. Celenza is asking Rhode Islanders to consider supporting the committee’s work with

a contribution. Donations can be made by filling out the following form and mailing it to the Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, 741 Westminster St., Providence, R.I., 02903. You can contact RICOSH by calling (401) 751-2015 or e-mailing Contribution: _______ $35 _______ $50 _______ $100 ___________other Name ___________________________ Address ____________________ City ________________ State _________ Zip___________ Email ______________________ Phone ___________________ Make checks payable to: RI Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

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Entertainment “1964”…The Tribute will rock the Stadium Theatre WOONSOCKET -- The Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre will host “1964”…The Tribute on Jan. 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. “1964” has been called “the world’s best Beatles band” by the former president of Apple Records, according to Jordan Harris, manager of marketing and advertising for the Stadium, 28 Monument Square. Beatles’ hits performed by “1964” include “A Hard Days Night,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout” and “Yellow Submarine.” Critics and fans hail “1964” as the most authentic and endearing Beatles tribute in the world, according to Harris. The band has been featured on such nationally televised programs as “Entertainment Tonight” and “PM Magazine” and on CNN, The USA Network and The Nashville Network. “1964” has toured throughout the world performing at major concert venues, as well as fairs, festivals, colleges, corporate events and conventions. Admission is $36 for orchestra select seating, $31 for orchestra seating and $26 for balcony. Tickets are available at the Stadium Theatre box office and by calling 401-762-4545 or going online to

“1964”…The Tribute, Photo by Steven Gardner.

“The Sugar Bean Sisters” will crack you up The 91st season of The Community Players will continue with the New England premiere of Nathan Sanders’ “The Sugar Bean Sisters,” a Southern Gothic comedy of romance, murder and alien abduction. “The Sugar Bean Sisters” will be presented Jan. 13 to 15 and 20 to 22 in the auditorium of Jenks Junior High School. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays will be at 8 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. In the play, the Nettles sisters live deep in a Florida swamp near Disney World, where Faye is waiting to be picked up by aliens and Willie Mae is hoping to attract a good Mormon husband. Throw in an eccentric “reptile woman,” a handsome Mormon bishop and a mysterious exotic dancer for some down-home Southern

humor with pop culture weirdness. The comedy has been described as a blend of “Crimes of the Heart” meets “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” with a touch of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” according to Erika Koch, publicity manager of The Community Players. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students through high school. Reserve tickets online at or call (401) 726-6860. Non-perishable food items will be collected during the run of the production and donated to the Blackstone Valley Emergency Food Center, according to Koch.

Enjoy “Tequila Sunrise” Jan. 14 in Woonsocket Band honors The Eagles Another Tequila Sunrise, the critically acclaimed Eagles tribute band, is returning to Woonsocket’s Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre, on Jan. 14 at 8p.m., making this the second consecutive year the tribute band will perform at the Stadium Theatre. For the past nine years, Another Tequila Sunrise: Tribute to The Eagles has toured throughout the United States, capturing the essence of the music played by The Eagles. From the ballads of “Desperado,” “Wasted Time” and “Best of My Love,” to countryrock songs such as “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Take it Easy” and the Eagles’ power house rock hits like “Hotel California,” Tequila Sunrise plays all of the band’s hits. In addition to that core material, Another Tequila Sunrise plays the hits from the solo careers of Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey. Tickets are $21 and $26. They can be purchased at the theater’s box office, by calling (401) 762-4545 or going on online at The Stadium offers well-known local, regional, national and international acts, according to Harris. For more information on upcoming events, including the Three Stooges film festival on Jan. 7, visit the Stadium’s Web site.

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Rhode Island Union members raise more than $8,500 for Salvation Army

PROVIDENCE — On Dec. 3, dozens of Rhode Island Labor Union members fanned out across the state to ring kettle bells for the Salvation Army as part of the 14th Annual Union Christmas Kettle Day. Organized by Working Rhode Island, the union volunteers spent their time at 28 Stop and Shop stores, Shaw’s supermarkets and the Eastside Marketplace, where workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. From Westerly to Woonsocket, the union members volunteered more than 500 hours of their time and raised approximately $8,500 in one day for the Salvation Army. “Union members have a long and proud tradition of public service,” said Dave Deumuth, a Teamsters’ Local 251 member and organizer of the Union Kettle Program from its start in 1998. “We are pleased to serve the communities in which we live and work and are honored to assist the Salvation Army in this most

compassionate campaign.” Members of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, the Laborers International Union, the Teamsters, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the Service Employees International Union, the National Education Association Rhode Island,

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 94, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Woonsocket Central Labor Council and the Rhode Island AFL-CIO staff participated in the kettle day. “We started out in 1998, with

volunteers at a handful of stores and to see union volunteers at 28 stores all over the state this year was truly heartwarming,” said Maureen Martin, secretarytreasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO and co-coordinator of the fund-raising effort. “Hopefully, next year we continue to grow and expand. The members really look forward to kettle day and want to lend a hand to those in need,” Martin added. “During these hard economic times, union members understand the importance of reaching out and helping neighbors in need,” explained Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George H. Nee. “Not only do union members build our roads, schools and bridges, fight fires, deliver packages and nurse the sick, they are there to support those in our communities who are facing hardships. Volunteering their time and energy, year after year, is just another way union members give back to their communities.”

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Common Ground January 2012  

CG RI JAn 2012

Common Ground January 2012  

CG RI JAn 2012