Thank You!

Since the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic the members of Local 528 RI Council 94 AFSCME have reported to work every day in support of the University of Rhode Islands’ mission.

These employees serve in critical support service roles which allow the University to house, feed and educate thousands of students each year. In the early spring of 2020 our country was thrust into the Covid-19 pandemic, and all the uncertainty associated with the early days of the pandemic.

Like all institutions of higher education throughout the country The University of Rhode Island made plans to finish the spring 20’ semester in large part remotely. The summer was spent making plans to allow the return of students in the fall of 20’including on campus housing and dining. A robust plan was executed including an excellent testing program, identifying quarantine spaces, social distancing requirements and a host of other protocols and guidelines.

The members of Local 528 perform a variety of critical support services including food service, cleaning and disinfecting, health services, critical infrastructure maintenance, grounds maintenance, public safety, parking enforcement, inventory control, and athletic equipment and team support services to name a portion of the work performed.

Covid-19 pandemic served to highlight the importance of the support services provided by these employees. Many of the members of Local 528 endured a change in hours/ days off, worked overtime in support of the Covid-19 disinfecting and cleaning protocols. In order to maintain a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff employees embraced new cleaning protocols which included servicing quarantine rooms. This was a critical function as it allowed the university to maintain ample quarantine space. Tradesmen continued to service residence halls and academic buildings throughout the pandemic. Health care workers helped to institute a critical and successful testing program available to all URI community members. Employees working in Dining Services worked with management to completely change the service model in order to comply with CDC and RIDOH requirements. They also worked to supply community members in quarantine with healthy meals.

When it came time for specific groups to get vaccinated these same workers were not provided vaccine access despite robust advocacy, even this while disappointing has not lessened the unwavering commitment to the vital support role the members of Local 528 fulfill.

The members of Local 528 are proud to play an integral part in the pursuit of higher education for so many young adults. I write this as a thank you to the men and women of Local 528 who have sacrificed in many ways; doubled down and accepted the challenge of servicing the university during such a trying time in our history. Many employees have dealt with personal challenges, illness, home schooling, financial struggles and loss of loved ones. They have dealt with these challenges while at the same time serving as the foundation of the efforts to keep campus open.

In my role as President of Local 528 I feel it is extremely important to offer a heartfelt thank you to every one of my brothers and sisters for their extraordinary commitment. There is no doubt their efforts have played an integral part in the successful completion of the academic year. 

I am extremely proud and honored to serve such a dedicated, professional and hardworking group of men and women. In a time where we all have so much to be proud of please know the members of Local 528 continue to serve the state’s flagship university in the face of Covid-19 with dignity and an unwavering commitment. 

Thank you for a job well done!

Respectfully submitted,

 Michael McDonald

President Local 528, RI Council 94, AFSCME