251 United Action, a growing rank-and-file reform movement in Rhode Island, took back their 5,500-member local when they won union office this fall.
The election posed a contest between the “old guard,” led by incumbent Joe Bairos, and a younger reform team led by UPS driver Matt Taibi and Rhode Island Hospital worker Paul Santos to lead Local 251.
But the campaign for change in Local 251 didn’t start at the Nominations Meeting. Members organized workshops and grievance trainings. They launched a campaign to change the local union bylaws and win the right to elect their shop steward and contract negotiating committees.
They built a movement. They ran for office. And they took back their union.
“For too long, Local 251 officials have run our union to benefit themselves, instead of the members,” says Taibi. “United Action will put the power of our union behind the membership to fight for better contracts and stand up to employers who are violating our rights.”