A rally in support of the North Kingstown custodians has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 10 at 6 p.m. at the North Kingstown School Administration Building, 100 Fairway, Drive North Kingstown.
My co-workers and I made $1.3 million in concessions to the district. And when the committee sought an additional $400,000, we all pitched in, took a big hit, and came up with the money the committee sought.
So if it is not about money, what is it about? It is about power and the capacity of the powerful to limit workers from having any say about their working conditions. It’s about silencing our voices.
But we will not be silenced.
GCA will slash wages and other benefits. However, most devastating to our members is the loss of traditional health insurance which GCA will replace with a limited benefit plan.
The difference between what we all think of as insurance (Blue Cross, United Healthcare, etc.) and limited benefit plans? With typical insurance coverage – the sort we are all used to – our costs were covered once we paid our deductible. So if someone’s child had to go to the hospital, the family could focus on treatment and care and not costs. If the bill reached $5000, those costs were covered once we paid our deductible.
That’s not so with a limited benefit plan. GCA’s coverage (provided by Symetra, a life insurance company, not a health insurance company) will pay a flat $500. The rest is on the family.
That’s a short road to poverty.
We also have serious concerns about the company the five committee members plan to hire: GCA Services. Their record troubles us. Independent news services – found with a quick Google search – have documented the serious problems with GCA, including hiring and placing a registered sex offender in a Texas middle school despite GCA’s screening efforts.
GCA Services profits by cutting wages, cutting benefits, and cutting corners.
In a recent (December 16, 2011, cases 28-CA-23513 and 28-CA-62481) decision from the NLRB and gives you a good indication how GCA treats its employees. The National Labor Relations Board ordered* GCA Services to “cease and desist” enforcing its rule (contained in GCA’s employee handbook) that prohibited GCA employees from encouraging or soliciting “membership in…organizations (meaning Unions) on work time or in work areas.”
GCA was ordered to
• Stop interrogating employees about Union membership;
• Stop interrogating employees about Union activities;
• Stop enforcing rules that prohibited employees from speaking about the Union;
• Stop engaging in surveillance of its employees to discover their Union activities;
• Stop threatening employees that it will not discuss with or grant its employees pay raises or improved benefits until they cease support for the Union;
• Stop threatening employees by inviting them to quit their employment because of their Union activities;
• Stop maintaining a rule that prohibited employees from discussing their wages with fellow employees;
• Stop threatening its employees with transfers to isolate employees from fellow employees for the purpose of interfering with their Union activities;
• Stop maintaining a rule requiring employees to surrender their personal phones to GCA so that GCA could discover and ascertain with whom its employees speak and text; and,
• Stop discharging employees in order to discourage membership in the Union.
You can do two things to help the North Kingstown Custodians:
1. Sign the Change.Org petition to send message that races to the bottom strategies don’t help Rhode Island;
2. Come to the Rally to show your support for the workers Tuesday night.