by Kevin Hanes | November 14, 2011
Thousands of Rhode Island union members rally against a proposed overhaul of the state’s pension system. (Photo by Susan Petersen)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Five thousand union members, including hundreds from AFSCME Rhode Island Council 94, attended a statehouse rally last week, calling for a ‘No!’ vote this Thursday on a proposed pension overhaul.
The rally, sponsored by the Rhode Island Retirement Security Coalition, amplified calls to block passage of the plan presented by Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Treas. Gina Raimondo.
“Maybe the treasurer can fund [the pensions] herself with the political contributions she’s raking in,” said Council 94 Pres. J. Michael Downey. He led the crowd in chanting, “Keep the promise! We did!” emphasizing that public employees keep their promises to the communities they serve and now it was time for the elected officials to keep their promise to public workers.
“I am a 34 year old woman – my mother is 62 – we both do the same job,” local union member Melonie Lee, a certified nursing assistant at the state Eleanor Slater Veterans Home, told the crowd. Lee is a veteran herself.
“I know the physical strain that this job puts on my body and I can only imagine what it does to my mother. It’s not right for the state to come back after all these years and tell my mother that she has to work even longer. We need real leaders who will provide real solutions that move this state forward.”