Study Shows the Crippling Effects of Unpaid Wages on Rhode Island Families

shortchanged_FL Fuerza Laboral/Power of Workers unveiled their publication Shortchanged: A Study of Unpaid Wages in Rhode Island, a report conducted with research assistance from the Schmidt Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island at a March 5 press conference at the State House Rotunda in Providence, RI . The study reveals through statistical research and personal testimony the damage that nonpayment of wages imposes on local residents.

“I didn’t get paid, my bills were backed up, my rent was backed up, I got in trouble with child support” says Fuerza Laboral member and wage theft victim Patrick Pierce. “There were 15 other guys in the shop and none of us were paid, it doesn’t just affect me it affects them but also the corner store that I go to, and my daughters schooling and the government taking taxes”. Mr. Pierce, along with other nonpayment and wage theft victims spoke out about the need to strengthen existing law to stop this abuse; they were joined by union leaders and supporters.

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The 99 Percent Takes Office: Lessons From a Rhode Island Special Election

by Amy Dean

Amy B. Dean

If labor and other progressive groups are going to rebuild an economy that works for the 99 percent in America, they need to do great organizing in workplaces and communities and they also need to build deep coalitions among themselves. But that’s not enough.

They also need to translate their organizing muscle into political power. And that means looking at electoral strategies in a new way.

The progressive victories in this November’s elections were inspiring and important, but they were essentially defensive. We fended off Republican attacks in Ohio, Mississippi and Maine, but we need to be winning pro-active campaigns, too. We need to be able to use electoral politics to reinforce our organizing strategies.

We often elect lesser-evil politicians and send them off in the vague hope that they will do the right thing once taking office. But we have seen time and time again, that even when we have friends in elected positions, they often end up holding the grassroots constituencies that got them elected at arm’s length. Politicians face huge pressures from corporate interests once in power and, consequently, just having a “D” after their name does not guarantee that they will take tough stands on behalf of working people. We don’t need friends in office; we need champions.

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