RISD Workers Win Strike
Workers Secure First Contract, End Two Week Strike
Teamsters at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) have secured their very first contract following a two week-long strike and 10 months of negotiations. Workers unanimously voted to ratify the contract.
The new six-year contract includes wage increases averaging 33 percent, with a 22 percent increase to take effect July 2023, wage retroactivity to October 2022, strong benefits, longevity bonuses, and more.
“After months of negotiations and multiple strikes, we are relieved to finally have a strong contract,” said Regina Santos, RISD custodian and Local 251 member. “We are very grateful to our Teamster leaders, RISD students, community members, and everyone who stood in solidarity with us on the picket line and helped us get a fair contract.”
“Strikes work – and this victory makes that abundantly clear,” said Matt Taibi, Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer and Eastern Region International Vice President. “RISD workers stood side-by-side in unity and demanded higher pay and better benefits, despite pushback from RISD leadership. We are grateful to these workers for their commitment in holding the line and fighting for the contract they deserve.”
RISD Teamsters authorized a one-day unfair labor practice (ULP) strike in late March after Local 251 filed ULP charges against RISD for failing to pay a general wage increase and changing starting rates for workers without providing them with notice or an opportunity to bargain. When RISD continued to refuse to bargain with workers, they headed to the picket line indefinitely on April 3.
Members at First Student Providence united, stuck together for months, reached out to the public, and prepared to go on strike to win a stronger contract.
The unity and pressure paid off.
Members have won a trend-setting contract that raises top pay to $37/hour by June 2026. The new four-year agreement also raises starting pay by more than $4 to $24/hour and guarantees members 180 paid work-days a year.
“We’re out on those roads every day and people from Rhode Island, you know what it’s like, and with the kids and we’re just glad. We’re glad. Everybody’s happy,” driver Chuck Hanrahan said.
“First Student drivers are invested invested in these jobs to support their families. These aren’t disposable, throwaway jobs. These workers are taxpayers, they’re parents, they’re members of the community and they deserve the best,” said Local 251 Secretary-Treasurer Matt Taibi.
After a courageous strike from June 22, 2022 to January 17, 2023,Local 251 members approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the contractor for DHL Express in Pawtucket, RI.
Notable gains for the workers include:
Affordable Teamster healthcare, a key demand of the workers
Strong wage improvements
More paid time off
Stronger overtime language
Strengthened job protections
The gains made in this contract should set the tone for workers looking for better conditions in the contractor-model of the growing logistics industry. Since organizing in 2017, the group has made incredible gains over two lengthy strikes.
The Company had sent WARN notices to workers and the Union signaling that they are closing operations March 25th. The Union demanded to bargain over those effects, if the Company actually does close.
Teamsters Local 251 leadership tips their hats to these courageous workers in demanding better working conditions and their willingness to fight for it.
Teamsters Joint Council 10 will be awarding scholarships to dependent children of eligible members, (excluding children of Officers, Business Agents, Organizers and Employees of Joint Council 10 and Local Unions affiliated with Joint Council 10).
Applications from Local 251 members must be submitted to Local 251 by March 20, 2023.
Click hereto learn more and download the application.
On Saturday September 17, 2022, Teamsters Local 251 held a dually noticed special meeting for the purposes of nominations of Officers & Agents for the term of January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2025. Election consultant Jody Clouse of Merriman River Group, hired by Local 251 to be an independent election administrator, conducted the nominations for Secretary-Treasurer, President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, 3 Trustees and 5 Business Agents. All candidates properly nominated, seconded and accepted were elected by acclamation.
For the term of January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2025, the Executive Board and elected Business Agents of Teamsters Local 251 will be:
Secretary-Treasurer: Matthew Taibi
President: Paul Santos
Vice President: Decio Goulart
Recording Secretary: Gary DaSilva
Trustee: Colleen Reid
Trustee: Brian Palmer
Trustee: Robert Medeiros
Business Agent: Paul Santos
Business Agent: Matthew Maini
Business Agent: Thomas Salvatore
Business Agent: Antonio Suazo
Business Agent: Brooke Reeves
Local 251 is awarding ten $3,500 college scholarships to children of Rhode Island Hospital Teamster employees. This benefit was negotiated in our union contract with Lifespan. A drawing will be held to determine the scholarship winners. Applicants must be the son or daughter of a Teamster member in good standing at Rhode Island Hospital to be eligible to apply.
Applications should be returned to the Union Hall or submitted to a Liaison, Union Representative, or the RIH H.R. Department. Only one (1) application per student. Applications must be received by July 31.
Congratulations to the custodians, lead custodians, groundskeepers, caretakers, movers and President’s House facilities coordinators employed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that recently voted to join Teamsters Local 251. The vote was 52-4 in favor of the Teamsters. The employees worked very hard for this victory and had to fight off an intense anti-union campaign from RISD management.
“We work hard and we feel nobody appreciates what we do. New management came in and didn’t treat us with any respect,” said Regina Santos, who helped lead the organizing effort. “We are demanding dignity and respect on the job, along with fair compensation for helping to keep the school running every day.”
“I wanted to join the Teamsters for better wages, job security and to be treated fair and equal,” said David Oberlander, a custodian at RISD.
“Workers approached us because of unfair treatment. The school takes advantage of them because of them because of the language barrier among them, assigning tasks usually performed by multiple workers,” said Mike Simone, Organizer for Teamsters Local 251. “Workers, regardless of whether they speak English, Spanish or Portuguese, deserve dignity, respect and a union contract.”
“We are seeing an increase in worker demands for fair treatment that only a union contract can deliver,” said Matthew Taibi, Principal Officer for Teamsters Local 251. “We are excited to empower these workers to demand a fair contract from RISD.”
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