The fifth week of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign A National Call for Moral Revival went slightly different from the weeks before. This week’s theme was Everybody’s Got a Right to Live, and the rally was centered upon education, a living wage, jobs, income and housing. What made this week different was the intersection of two stories I have been tracking, the DHL Strike in Pawtucket and the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign itself.
The other thing that made this week different was the end, where members of the rally entered the Rhode Island State House to follow up on a letter sent to Governor Gina Raimondo, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. The letter, hand delivered on May 14, has received no response, says Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign organizer Camilo Viveiros, who is an organizer at the George Wiley Center.
Viveiros led a small group into the State House to ask the Governor’s office for a meeting. If a meeting is not had, stronger action will be taken, including the possibility of direct action and/or civil disobedience.
But that’s next week. In two weeks the actions shifts to Washington DC, where the Reverend Doctor William Barber II will be holding a large rally in the United States Capitol National Mall.
Here’s the video:
Reverends Santiago Rodriguez and Ebony Grisom:
Nick Figueroa, of College Visions:
Matthew Taibi, principle officer of the Teamsters Local 251 spoke about the striking DHL workers.
“When these workers approached us,” said Taibi, “we were facing a situation where they had no health care that was affordable to them. The costs [of the health care plans] was more than what they made in a year. It was totally unaffordable and out of reach for them.
“The average wage was a little over $12 an hour. No retirement benefits. Rampant wage theft. Safety and health violations and issues were rampant.
“So it was no surprise that when they approached us and we told them that by collective action they could demand better… Those folks voted 25 to 2 in favor of the union.”
The DHL workers “were the ones who taught me that health care is a right and not a privilege,” said Matt Maini, the Business Agent assigned to the workers at DHL.
Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman:
One of the co-founders of the Rhode Island Gray Panthers:
Malchus Mills of DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality):
Tarshire Battle and Reverend Ebony Grisom:
March into the State House:
Message to Governor Gina Raimondo:
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