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Rhode Island: Members Help Derail Privatization Scheme

A plan that threatened the jobs of 60 bus drivers and 100 custodians was tabled last fall after more than 400 union members and community activists throughout the city rallied to oppose the plan.

Warwick, Rhode Island
Members of several AFSCME locals (Council 94) rally in solidarity with Warwick Independent School Employees (WISE). (Photo credit: Susan Peterson)

Warwick, Rhode Island

Solidarity Wins The Day

 

A plan that threatened the jobs of 60 bus drivers and 100 custodians was tabled last fall after more than 400 union members and community activists throughout the city rallied to oppose the plan.

The spirited solidarity rally was organized with the help of AFSCME Local 1651 (Council 94) in support of Warwick Independent School Employees (WISE). The union, which recently affiliated with Council 94, represents 455 school employees, including bus drivers, clerical workers, custodians and teaching assistants.

In addition to the rally, the union filed a complaint in Superior Court to block the school's privatization move.

Following the rally, the Warwick school superintendent tabled the plan.

"We're here because it's important to show our support for our sisters and brothers who are not being treated fairly," says Jean Bouchard, president of AFSCME Local 1651, which also represents more than 300 city workers. "Privatization is only a short-term solution that costs local jobs and more money down the line."

Although privatization is not off the table as a cost-saving measure, Bouchard welcomes the superintendent's decision. "WISE needs the opportunity to be part of the solution to Warwick's budget problems," explains Bouchard. "We hope both sides will arrive at a mutually-satisfactory resolution that ensures the long-term interests of the school children."

Also attending the rally were AFSCME members from Locals 528 (University of Rhode Island), 670 (Woonsocket City), 904 (Veterans Home), 1137 (Woonsocket Schools), 1350 (Medical Center), 1651 (Warwick City), 2448 (Department of Administration), 2872 (Department of Education), 2873 (Rhode Island Airport Corp.), 2879 (Rhode Island College Clerical), 2882 (Department of Human Services) and Retiree Chapter 94.