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The Workers First Caravan for racial and economic justice



If you’re talking about work to your family and friends make sure you’re talking about the power of organized labor, why it’s important to join a union, why it’s important to say Black Lives Matter…

On Wednesday working people from Rhode Island joined thousands of people from across the country as part of a Workers First Caravan, an all-out action of national solidarity calling for implementation of America’s Five Economic Essentials, passage of the HEROES Act, and in recognition of the fact that Black Lives Matter.

For the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, America’s Five Economic Essentials are:

  • Keep front-line workers safe and secure.
  • Keep workers employed and protect earned pension checks.
  • Keep state and local governments, our public schools and the United States Postal Service solvent and working.
  • Keep America healthy – protect and expand health insurance for all workers.
  • Keep America competitive – hire people to build infrastructure.

“If you’re talking about work to your family and friends make sure you’re talking about the power of organized labor, why it’s important to join a union, why it’s important to say Black Lives Matter,” said Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO on a live video during the event. “One of the most exciting things right now going on in the country is the protest, especially led by young people of color making sure that everyone in this country knows that Black Lives Matter.”

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO, and the affiliated unions who make up our membership, also recognize the original sin of slavery as a stain upon our nation. In a press release the Rhode Island AFL-CIO wrote:

  • We understand that part of its tragic legacy is the systemic racism and implicit bias that divides the working class and fuels oppression in our worksites and in our communities.
  • We demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and the countless other Black men and women whose lives have been stolen by racist systems and we support the youth-led movements that fill the streets of our nation in protest of this long standing injustice.
  • We pledge to center our efforts on internal organizing that challenges and dismantles racism that exists in our organizations.
  • We call on our brothers and sisters in law enforcement to be supportive of reforms that will eliminate racism and racist behavior.
  • We will work to root out racism wherever it may shelter and we will mobilize, stand in solidarity, and fight alongside all of those who are seeking a better world.

“Increased unionization is the most important element in achieving economic equality for all workers. Therefore we will organize the unorganized and create a better world for all working families in the state of Rhode Island.”

The caravan began at the West River Street/Corliss Street intersection and proceeded around the postal center, with stops at the Providence Teacher Union Hall and the Stop & Shop on West River Street before traveling to a non-union construction site on Branch Avenue with a history of worker safety concerns.

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[From a press release]