“2020 has taught us all some real life lessons, has put the light on. Some real perpetrators have taken the hoods off. Some of those wannabes that talk one way, then put the hoods on to do the dirty work that’s been done for years. They don’t wear the hoods anymore. They wear their nice suits and nice shoes – but let me tell you – the stench is still the same.“
On a SEIU-1199NE press conference on Thursday, Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence) expressed outrage over the way the Safe Staffing bill, which passed the Senate, was killed by House leadership.
“I am overwhelmed, disgusted, pissed off, angry and and that’s putting it respectfully, because there’s a whole lot more words that I want to use,” said Representative Williams.
On July 16, House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) submitted a resolution creating a House study commission to look into nursing home staffing levels, rather than pass Representative Scott Slater’s (Democrat, District 10, Providence) safe staffing bill that had been submitted, vetted and discussed for years now. By passing this resolution, the House killed the safe staffing bill for another year. House Spokesperson Larry Berman confirmed to UpriseRI that the safe staffing bill will not pass this year. In killing the safe staffing bill, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello didn’t even bother to call for a vote on the resolution to establish a study commission, he just passed it by acclimation. There was no discussion, no debate. Here’s the video:
“Had we known what was going to take place,” said Representative Williams ruefully. “I am confident [that] if only myself, and the prime sponsor of the bill had gotten up and spoken about it, had we known what the plan was…
“I didn’t know,” continued Williams. “Usually, there’s a conversation that takes place with the prime [sponsor] about their bills. I’m not the prime sponsor, so I don’t expect to be called. I expect to follow the lead of the prime sponsor and the leadership.”
Can you help us?
Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.
The bill should have passed, continued Williams, who chairs the House Committee on Labor. “Why it didn’t I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. I can certainly speculate, but I don’t want to be wrong.
“But let me tell you this… The ones who are benefiting don’t look like me, but the ones that are being used, just like those providers, just like those workers in those nursing homes, look like me,” said Williams. “And the ones who are advocating for them don’t look like me. But you bet your bottom dollar that they are benefiting off of people that look like me, that’s doing the work.”
70% of nursing home workers in Rhode Island are women of color, like Representative Williams.
“There is no [doubt], no if, ands, or buts about this, who those lobbyists are that flipped this, and who the beneficiaries are,” said Williams. “There’s no question… And don’t think that they’re all not connected.
“Wake up if you really want to do something for those heroes.”
Williams continued by calling out the institutional and not-so-covert racism at the Rhode Island State House.
“2020 has taught us all some real life lessons, has put the light on some real perpetrators [who] have taken the hoods off. Some of those wannabes that talk one way, then put the hoods on to do the dirty work that’s been done for years. They don’t wear the hoods anymore. They wear their nice suits and nice shoes – but let me tell you – the stench is still the same.
“So I’m calling you out. I hope that you tape it, so my words are not misrepresented… I said what I said and I’m sticking to it.”
Here’s the tape: