Patrick Crowley, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, spoke to Erik Loomis of the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog about the response from the state federation and the larger labor movement to COVID-19.
Here in Rhode Island, the state federation has been holding conference calls for local labor leaders every other day so our leaders, many of whom are still rank-and-file workers, can ask questions of the state’s political leaders. We’ve had Governor Raimondo join us twice, the State Treasurer, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Senate President and our entire congressional delegation. Our leaders have been able to ask questions, sometimes pretty tough ones, about what steps the government has taken to address the crisis. It’s also been a chance to triage problems that have come up for our members. For example, in the early days of the crisis, there was a real concern that one of our hospital chains was going to start furloughing front line health care workers because they were hemorrhaging money after elective procedures were cancelled, cutting off a significant revenue stream. As a result of these calls, labor leaders were able to convince political leaders to investigate so folks could keep working.