PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Workers at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) began an open-ended strike Monday morning after they say contract negotiations failed.
General Teamsters Local 251, the union which represents 62 custodians, groundskeepers and movers, says RISD didn’t give a general wage increase or allow the employees to bargain.
This comes less than two weeks after workers held a one-day unfair labor practice strike. They are holding up signs and have put up an inflatable animal wearing a shirt saying “CEO” and holding a bag of money.
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Regina Santos has been a custodian at RISD for the past 10 years and told 12 News that it is hard to live on her salary.
“It’s very hard because I live by myself, and I need to pay my bills, my mortgage, and my insurance and my health because I have a lot of health problems,” she said.
For the last several months, workers have been fighting to secure their first contract at the college and the union says negotiations have recently stalled.
“We have been struggling to survive, with the pay here that we get. I have been here for more than 20 years, almost 21 years, and then I don’t get paid more than $18 an hour,” custodian Gusjanto Limiadi said.
Most recently the union says RISD ignored the workers’ proposed contract from March 18, but the school disagrees.
“Although negotiations were productive at first, union leaders have been unwilling to work productively with us since we began discussing economic issues in October,” RISD said in a statement.
RISD says the union demanded benefits and wage increases that go “well beyond what RISD considers fiscally responsible or that would allow us to maintain equity across the college.”
The school went on to say they respect their workers but a strike will not resolve the matter.
Once again, RISD doesn’t believe the strike will impact access to school buildings or any student’s day.