James P. Riley

Inducted: 2018
Born: 1950

James P. Riley was born in New Britain, Connecticut in 1950. He began his long career in the labor movement as a butcher for Stop & Shop in the 1970s. In 1984, Jim left his meat cutting career for a position as an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). This work sent Jim across the country and to many points in between.
During his time “on the road,” Jim successfully organized rural packinghouse workers across the Bible Belt, retail food workers in big cities, and even brought nurses into the union fold in the Northwest. After twenty itinerant years, he settled in Rhode Island in 1997.
Jim took up residence here after being offered the top position in Local 328 in Providence. He once again used his organizing skills and charisma, only in a smaller arena. He helped build the organization into the largest in Rhode Island. He also became very adept as a union and working class lobbyist at the Legislature.
Jim has served his community in a variety of ways. Continuing his commitment to the Labor movement, he has served as Vice President of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts AFL-CIOs. As a board member of Justice Assistance, he helps advocate for victims of crimes and offender rehabilitation programs. Jim is currently board chairman for the Occupational and Environmental Health Center of Rhode Island, which created the “Fix Our Schools Now” coalition. He is a member of the Rhode Island Labor History Society and a member of the Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee where he serves as the event’s “Official Voice”.
Jim was appointed to the Rhode Island Council on the Arts by Governor Lincoln Chafee and served two terms on that board. He has since been appointed to the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities by Governor Gina Raimondo.
Of all his accomplishments, however, he is most known for his strong connection to philanthropic causes. He is active in raising charitable funds for many organizations and serves as an engaging master of ceremonies for events across the state.
Of his fundraising activities, Jim is most proud of his efforts on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Along with his equally hardworking team of UFCW brothers and sisters, he has helped to raise over $1,000,000 to date and continues to use his connections and strong ties to the community to raise money for this organization. He has never received any accolades, recognition, or pay for these activities.
In recent years, because of his reputation as a premier fundraiser, Jim was asked to assist the ALS Association of Rhode Island in combating the so-called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. As a result of his successful efforts, he was presented with the ALS Advocate of the Year Award in 2017.
In his spare time, Jim is an accomplished pen-and-ink and watercolor artist. His work can be seen in the Rhode Island governor’s office, the RI AFL-CIO offices, and several union headquarters across the state.
In retirement, Jim works for the Rhode Island Institute for Labor Studies and Research where he continues to support the labor community and advocate for immigrant families and the under served.
Dr. D. Scott Molloy, Jr. 2009 Inductee

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