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Week five of the RI Poor People’s Campaign tackles education and jobs, begins to up the ante



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.

Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival kicks off

Week two of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on systemic racism and poverty

Week three of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on the war economy

Week four of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on ecological devastation and health care

Striking DHL workers demand healthcare and living wages

Striking DHL workers in Pawtucket hit four-week mark

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.

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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.

Matt Taibi:

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman:

Asata Tigrai:

Betsy Deeds:

One of the co-founders of the Rhode Island Gray Panthers:

Malchus Mills of DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality):

Greg Gerritt:

Tarshire Battle and Reverend Ebony Grisom:

A song:

Camilo Viveiros:

March into the State House:

Message to Governor Gina Raimondo:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.