October 31, 2014
Rate this
SEIU rallies at airport in appreciation of expansion, jobs
John Howell
GLAD FOR AIRPORT EXPANSION: Celeste Ramos, a janitor at Green Airport, addresses fellow union members at a rally Thursday as Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson and Scott Duhamel, secretary treasurer of the Rhode Island Building Trades Council, look on.

Celeste Ramos came to this country from Cape Verde and when she got here she knew she wanted to work at Green Airport. Her friends and relatives urged her to apply, but she doubted she would get the janitorial job she hoped for. Her English is limited, yet she applied and, to her delight, landed a job on the third shift. She is making about $12 an hour and working 40 hours a week for ISS, the company the Rhode Island Airport Corporation has contracted to do janitorial services.

But while Ramos knows how to handle a mop and how to keep restrooms sparkling, she also knows how to use a bullhorn and how to get across her message, even though she needed a translator to do it, as she demonstrated Thursday afternoon outside the terminal.

Ramos was one of three speakers at a Service Employees International Union Local 615 rally that was billed as a celebration of expansion at Green Airport. Also speaking was Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, who received a less than warm welcome from unions across the state when she spearheaded the council’s review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of a runway extension. After her, Scott Duhamel, secretary treasurer of the Rhode Island Building Trades Council, spoke. He too was less than enthusiastic about the Warwick City Council before it moved to dismiss its appeal after it reached a memorandum of agreement with RIAC.

Now, apparently, Duhamel and Vella-Wilkinson couldn’t be on better terms.

Vella-Wilkinson called the SEIU one of the most diverse unions in the country, citing that 56 percent of its members are women and 40 percent are of color. Also, she said, the union covers a wide range of jobs and that, “without labor, no one prospers.”

Duhamel applauded Vella-Wilkinson for representing her constituents well and for recognizing the importance of Green Airport.

“This is a bright spot in a tough landscape,” he said. “The economy of Rhode Island centers around this airport.”

The rally, which concluded with the 25 union members gathering in the terminal for refreshments, was also a means of focusing attention on the SEIU. The union represents 14,000 janitors across New England and its contract with ISS US expires on Sept. 30.

Celeste Ramos shared the bullhorn with union organizer Maria Gonsalves, who acted as her translator. As many in the audience also had limited English, a union representative translated in English to Spanish using a wireless system with special ear sets.

Ramos credited the union with ensuring she and her colleagues get paid holidays, sick days and health care. Most important, she said, is that they have gained respect. She and her co-workers won union recognition in 2007.

“Fight for your rights,” she urged. “When we do our job, the union and the airport are better off.”

Currently, there are about 30 janitorial jobs at the airport. The expansion is not necessarily going to mean more janitorial positions, however, when the council committee and RIAC worked on an agreement, the construction phase of the runway extension and longer safety areas for the cross-wind runway was projected to create about 1,000 jobs.

Additional full-time jobs are anticipated, if the extended runway translates into more flights and passenger traffic.


Comments
5 comments on this item

"Additional full-time jobs are anticipated, if the extended runway translates into more flights and passenger traffic."

Anybody have any theories on how the extended runway will result in more flights and passenger traffic? The problem is that the ticket prices will go through the roof to pay for the extended runway. More and more former Green passengers will choose Logan or Bradley.

People are not going to use Logan or Bradley over TF Green. First of all TF Green is easy accessable. Second of all the parking is safe, quick, and easy to use and is close to the airport. The people mover has made that even easier.

TF Green is the airport of the future for all of New England. I cannot wait for it to expand, and watch the jobs, and economy grow. This is exactly what the state needs. We need to exploit the resources that we have already in place.

RI doesn't have much to offer other than tourism. Therefore, we need to promote tourism world-wide and the portal is TF Green Airport.

Jobs is what this state needs so badly. The economy is dieing in this state. We must go forth with the TF Green expanision for safety and economic purposes.

Oil is dropping in prices. Therefore jet fuel costs are dropping. Ticket prices will be dropping thanks to the less fuel prices.

There are ways the airport can off set any infrastructure costs for the expansion. Inventive ways such as increased advertisement throughout the terminal, federal funding and assistance, renting or selling property that is no longer needed. Increased sales in the terminal whether it be food, beverage, slot machines, lottery, and so forth.

Once the airport expands it will be more inviting to other carriers, world-wide carriers. The more places offered to fly to the more chances of people utilizing the airport.

Cargo is a key component to the business at TF Green Airport. If RI's economy is going to grow the import and exporting via airmail will have to increase world-wide.

Mr. Langseth the airport expansion is historic, exciting, and necessary. Status quo does not work !! We need to put RI back on the map. We need people to want to come to RI and spend money !! We need jobs !! We need TF Green Aiport to be safe !!!

Look at most cities that have grown such as Atlanta, Ga, for example. Atlanta has grown so much and their airport has become a major hub.

RI needs to do everything it can to become economicaly attractive.

Placing ALOT of needs on the back of TF Green...I do not think the ariport is going to end all this States woes...

Michael2012: Here is an interesting update on RIAC's plans for expansion and safety improvements. RIDEM and the airport are still working on the glycol plant and runway mitigation issues. No funding has been identified yet for the necessary glycol plant project doe to be completed in two years to comply with the MOA between the city and RIAC. The safety improvement project is on a funding hold until next construction season if not the season beyond that. The design of this project has not been finalized yet. CRMC is issuing a provisional finding that allows RIAC to move forward if there are no plan changes. But the actual plan is not set yet because nobody knows how much money will be available. If at that point the CRMC objects RIAC will be subject to additional funding and construction project delays. In short, the glycol and runway safety projects have all but stalled out. RIAC will be challenged to start the runway extension project within the timeframe allowed under the EIS.

People in Eastern Connecticut and Western Rhode Island will clearly go to Bradley if prices are lower there or non-stop service to West Coast is reintroduced. The battleground is the casino market. Don't think for one minute that Mr. Dillon won't be encouraging airlines to do some packaging for that traffic.

Are you really suggesting gaming at the airport terminal? That will most assuredily drive the Connecticut casinos to drop Warwick as a route to their casinos.

As far as airline expansion is concerned it is going to be a real bear to get the seat capacity up to a level that encourages lower ticket prices. Anyone who thinks otherwise never experienced T.F. Green before Southwest Airlines showed up. In those days it made clear sense to drive to Logan or Bradley even though the trips were more difficult in those days. Runway expansion cannot happen until after airline expansion.

38 Studios put us on the map. Coming up we have the 195 Relocation financing scheme followed by various RIAC financing problems. We are on the map - but for all the wrong reasons. I agree that RI needs to do everything it can to become economically attractive. Killing the brain dead runway expansion is a great place to start.

Having just traveled across country and visiting serveral airports along the way, I must commend the staff at Greene for their outstanding work in keeping our airport clean and tidy. We have by far the cleanest bathrooms and our terminals are well kept. As someone who is not employed by Greene or any of it's contractors but routinely has access to restricted areas beyond the public eye, I can assure you it's not being swept under the carpet either. To ISS, your SEIU workers are doing and excellent job for you. To anyone who thinks these jobs don't need to be unionized because everyone gets vacation and sick time: you're wrong. One need not look further than private ambulance companies. I friend of mine was just stripped of his vacation and sick time in a deal that saw his company sold and it's owner vastly enriched. It's a sector which ought to be unionized ASAP. Rant over! lol

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to log in.
Welcome to RIjobs.com
Copyright © 2014, Beacon Communications. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.