Press Releases

Rhode Island School of Design Workers Vote Teamster Yes!

RISD photo

Vote 52 to 4 to Join Local 251

Press Contact: Matthew Taibi Phone: (401) 434-0454

(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) – Congratulations to the custodians, lead custodians, groundskeepers, caretakers, movers and President’s House facilities coordinators employed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that recently voted to join Teamsters Local 251. The vote was 52-4 in favor of the Teamsters. The employees worked very hard for this victory and had to fight off an intense anti-union campaign from RISD management.

“We work hard and we feel nobody appreciates what we do. New management came in and didn’t treat us with any respect,” said Regina Santos, who helped lead the organizing effort. “We are demanding dignity and respect on the job, along with fair compensation for helping to keep the school running every day.”

“I wanted to join the Teamsters for better wages, job security and to be treated fair and equal,” said David Oberlander, a custodian at RISD.

“Workers approached us because of unfair treatment. The school takes advantage of them because of them because of the language barrier among them, assigning tasks usually performed by multiple workers,” said Mike Simone, Organizer for Teamsters Local 251. “Workers, regardless of whether they speak English, Spanish or Portuguese, deserve dignity, respect and a union contract.”

“We are seeing an increase in worker demands for fair treatment that only a union contract can deliver,” said Matthew Taibi, Principal Officer for Teamsters Local 251. “We are excited to empower these workers to demand a fair contract from RISD.”