labor

A labor dispute at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence has erupted over the layoff of 16 staff members. The layoffs, and the dispute, turn on the definition of a single word: deliveries.

Members of the Service Employees International Union local 1199 are picketing outside Women and Infants over the hospital’s decision to cut several cleaning, lab, and clinical staff. Union spokesman Patrick Quinn says his members dispute the hospital’s claim that the number of deliveries – and therefore the need for as many staff – has dropped below 8500 over the past year.

The state Labor Relations Board has slated an election for later this month so state-subsidized child care workers can vote on whether they want to join a union. The law allowing the workers to unionize was passed this year by the General Assembly.

By most measures, a September 1973 strike by workers at the Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin was a failure. By voting to end the strike, newspaper employees agreed to accept the very contract they had rejected two weeks earlier. Some members of the Providence Newspaper Guild lost their jobs. Publication of the Journal and Bulletin continued uninterrupted through the strike.

Governor Lincoln Chafee has nominated Congressman David Cicilline's district director, Chris Fierro -- an early supporter of Chafee in 2010 -- to chair the Rhode Island Board of Review.

Fierro, a former state rep from Woonsocket with strong ties to labor, faces Senate confirmation. The governor's office says the job will pay between $77,810 and $88,177.

Per news release:

With the aftermath of this week's Boston Marathon attack remaining in the forefront of headlines, we're keeping the focus on politics in my Friday column. Thanks for stopping by; as always, your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

A bill to extend binding arbitration to teacher contracts -- which last hit the House floor during the 2011 legislative session -- is coming back to the Statehouse.

Binding arbitration legislation sponsored by state Representative Anastasia Williams (D-Providence) is slated for a House Labor Committee hearing Tuesday (following the House session, or about 4:30/5 p.m.) in Room 201. A vote is not expected to take place following the hearing.

Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, is pouring cold water on one theory making the rounds -- that the House of Representatives will approve binding arbitration as part of a deal for the state Senate to pass same-sex marriage legislation.

The premise is a little funny on its face, since organized labor is a strong supporter of both issues. Still, stranger things have happened in the annals of Rhode Island politics.

Providence police on Thursday approved, by an 89 percent margin, a settlement with the City of Providence that, the city says, saves $18.5 million in the current budget year and cuts the pension plan’s unfunded liability by at least $170 million. The vote, word which came in via mobile phones as city officials joined reporters for a holiday party at the home of David Ortiz, Mayor Angel Taveras’ press secretary, is the latest in a string of negotiated settlements in Providence.

The liberal activist group RI Jobs with Justice is having its latest awards dinner this Thursday, 6-9 pm, at the Cranston Portuguese Club. Former state rep David Segal sent along the following details:

Jobs With Justice is scrappy, but one of the most important and effective activist organizations in Rhode Island.  The campaign they helped lead in support of a living wage ordinance in Providence is one of the reasons I got involved in politics here and decided to run for City Council a decade ago. 

As state Treasurer Gina Raimondo gets set to hold a football-themed fundraiser at Rick’s Roadhouse this evening, here’s a copy of the rally-the-troops email sent out by the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters:

Governor Lincoln Chafee says the uncertainty and cost of litigating a union challenge to last year’s landmark pension overhaul justify efforts to seek a settlement.

In a telephone interview from Washington, DC, where he’s attending a National Governors Association meeting, Chafee dismissed concerns that a settlement would dilute the pension overhaul to such an extent that it would hurt Rhode Island’s fiscal condition.

The emergence of super-lawyer David Boies in Rhode Island’s high-stakes pension fight — first reported yesterday by RIPR — was triggered by his interest in the even broader significance of the case.

Alison Frankel reports for Thomson Reuters:

After a long, strange trip, Election 2012 is in the books. It’s been a long week, so sit back and relax with my latest edition of TGIF. Your comments are welcome, as always, at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

The General Assembly has long been populated with public employees — police officers, firefighters, and teachers — so the Hatch Act complaint described by state Representative Jon Brien has no small significance.

Larry Berman, the spokesman for House Speaker Gordon Fox, says the House leadership believes Stephen Casey is on solid ground in rebutting Brien’s complaint.

Woonsocket firefighter Stephen Casey, who beat state Representative Jon Brien in the September 11 primary, says he thinks Brien’s charge of a Hatch Act violation is all wet.

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