Union Members Have A Choice

Chairman's Corner: President of the SEIU local 580 Affirms Unions Members Have A Choice

So, this week the President of the SEIU local 580, Kathleen McElroy, took some time to respond to a Mike Stenhouse’s op-ed.

The piece that drew her ire was Stenhouse’s celebration of the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision. As a reminder, this was a court case that provided public sector union members the choice to either join or not join a union.

This ruling held that workers have a first amendment right to choose whether they support the political activities of a union.

In five paragraphs McElroy confirms five times that union members have a choice. Ironically, this is a choice that state workers only have because of the Supreme Court decision. McElroy did not provide her members this choice pre-Janus.

In fact, following the Supreme Court decision, the Providence Journal reported that “McElroy said she has personally been talking to the holdouts in her union.”

McElroy is in a key position of leadership, representing workers that are involved in the day-to-day challenges in government. Her rank and file have borne witness to the tragedies at DCYF and to the state-wide impact of failures with the public assistance system.

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Last month, we saw a state house vote on legalizing late term abortions. This vote was a betrayal of the promise of a "firewall."

The floodgates are open - and the so-called “firewall” has collapsed. For years, we have heard that moderate Democrats would hold the line against radical progressives. But in recent months, any hopes by mainstream Rhode Islanders that such resistance might be real enough to hold-off the fringe-left have been utterly dashed.

In last fall’s elections, the incumbent Lt. Governor, Dan McKee, refused to directly take-on the philosophical extremism of his progressive left primary-challenger. This legislative session, the Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, has once again empowered his own political enemies, this time by caving to their demands for anytime, anywhere abortions of viable babies … even though three-in-four Rhode Islanders oppose such brutal practices.

If a pro-life Catholic, who promised to be a pro-life Speaker, continues to appease the radical-left faction in his own party by sacrificing his values on the most sacred of all public policy issues, how can Rhode Islanders ever trust that our rights will be preserved if we cannot even protect the basic right to life?

Next up will be a punishing Medicaid tax on large employers; new “pay equity” regulations that will further burden our vital job-producers; single-payer health care that will limit our policy choices; new carbon taxes and green energy mandates that will raise the cost of electricity and gasoline; legalization of marijuana and prostitution that will further tear at our society’s cultural fabric; and continued roll-back and blockage of of charter-school and other needed educational reforms that could give students a brighter future.

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I Believe In Sue Cienki

Earlier this month, you may have seen my analysis of the GOP Chairmanship election. That election is this Saturday. After meeting all of the candidates, I would like to share with you my preference for Chair and why this selection matters.

I encourage Gaspee Project supporters to root for Sue Cienki, and I encourage all GOP delegates to give Sue Cienki serious consideration as their next chair.

As Gaspee Project Chair, why am I weighing in on this? When I was in college, our state budget crossed the $1 billion mark. At the time, that seemed quite high. Now, we are spending 1000% more - yes, one THOUSAND percent! The entrenched special interests are like junkies. They are no longer living on the high of government spending; they are trying to avoid the crash of cutting programs and facing unhappy constituents. Their kick-the-can down the road, let’s plug-this-budget-hole-with-a-tax-of-the-week approach continues.

In their calculus, the political class have completely discounted the pain they continue to inflict to the business community and citizens of Rhode Island through their “revenue enhancements” and “investments.” They pitch these as small increases, but theses increases have contributed to a $9 billion increase in  spending per year. This rate of increased spending is not only unsustainable, it does not include the out-year bills that will come due from all of the unmeetable pension promises that have been made.

Sue Cienki understands this problem. She fought these same battles at the local level.

When she failed at the ballot box in November, she turned it into her battle cry: Failure is my fuel. I believe her… she has won in the past.


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Handicapping the race for chairman of the RI GOP

Perhaps chairwoman would be the more appropriate term, as two of the five announced candidates seeking to serve as the next chair of the Rhode Island’s Republican party are women. A fairly broad diversity of personal characteristics, philosophies, and histories will be presented to central committee voters at the party’s scheduled March 30 election.

While three of the candidates have won elected office in the past, unfortunately, all five candidates lost their various election races in 2018. These electoral losses weakens each of their claims to be able to lead the party to multiple future election victories.

While I am not a voting delegate myself, I have run for the General Assembly as a Republican, organized the campaign for current GOP Representative Justin Price, and am currently an elected member of the Chariho school committee.

In listening to the candidates and in talking with many party leaders and members, the race appears to be wide-open, as no single candidate has the overt support of an overwhelming majority of party officials. Add in the unpredictable nature of a ballot process, in this case expected to go through many rounds, and the most popular candidate may not be the person who emerges as the winner.

In this regard there are rumors of alliances among many of the candidates in order to ensure that a conservative is elected. Putting such speculative possibilities aside, however, here’s how I rate each candidate’s chances.

Among the three early announced candidates:

Bob Lancia is generally considered to be a conservative, who earned notoriety for calling out the “911” fund fraud. He should also be credited for developing good relations among Latino and minority communities. However, Lancia, a former Navy chaplain and a 100% disabled vet whose shoulder was shattered in Iraq, is not considered (at least among party members) a strong leader. He also represents the older, white male image that the party is seeking to shed. Lancia lost his re-election bid to the House in 2018. (Note: corrected to reflect his correct branch of service and veteran status)

Rebecca Schiff, from Jamestown, is not a full conservative, however she is backed by Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. A business professional with a political science degree, Schiff would give the party a moderate political leader who may be able to help attract female voters. However, the Log Cabin Republican is a cultural liberal, who publicly admitted that she did not vote for Donald Trump, the national party’s leader. Schiff lost her 2018 and 2016 bids for the House of Representatives.

Michael Veri, the Woonsocket Republican candidate for state Senator, presents an energetic option. The youngest of the candidates, Veri, still active in the military reserves, offers solid conservative credentials. His youthful enthusiasm, however, is seen by many as a bit too idealistic and without the requisite life experience to lead the party out of its desperate straits. To some, Veri, a lab director, is seen as potential star in the General Assembly. Veri lost his 2018 state Senate bid.

Sue Cienki was the next to announce. The former East Greenwich town council President, is seen as the most conservative across the board, the strongest voice, and most willing to take on public unions. Also offering the party a feminine image, Cienki has been a vocal opponent of unrestricted abortions. A defense lawyer by trade, Cienki’s sometimes combative nature was the subject of much criticism from the left and led to the 2018 defeat of the entire Republican town slate, after her policies rallied strong union election opposition.

Ken Mendonca was the last to announce. The former state Representative from Portsmouth was well-liked among his General Assembly colleagues and offers a softer brand of conservatism. According to some, Mendonca, an information systems manager for a defense contractor, may not have the aggressiveness they would like to see in the next party chair. However his gentle demeanor and professional disposition is seen as a plus. Mendonca lost his 2018 re-election campaign.

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