Tag: Labor / Unions

Wilkins Updike

Wilkins Updike, a member of the noted Updike family of North Kingstown, was the youngest of eleven children of Lodowick and Abigail Updike, and he was the father of twelve. He was born on January 8, 1784, to a paternal line originating in Prussia and including Richard Smith, the first white settler in the Narragansett

Read More »

Catherine R. (Arnold) Williams

In early nineteenth-century Rhode Island, a woman’s role was sharply circumscribed by tradition. A woman—even one of high social station—was thought of mainly as a wife and a mother. Those who ventured beyond the home (religious nuns excepted) might find work from the 1830s onward as a teacher in a primary school, as a school

Read More »

George T. Downing

In Rhode Island, slavery was placed on the road to extinction on March 1, 1784, when the General Assembly passed a gradual manumission act making any Black born to a slave mother after that date free. Those who were slaves at that time had to be manumitted by their masters. Five such slaves were listed

Read More »

Frances Harriet (Whipple) Green McDougall

“A Rhode Island Original” is a description used by Sarah O’Dowd to title her biography of Frances Whipple. It aptly describes one of Rhode Island’s most significant mid-nineteenth-century writers and reformers. Frances was born in Smithfield in September 1805, but the exact date is unknown. She was the eldest of the four children of George

Read More »

Seth Luther

Of all the Rhode Island leaders profiled herein, no person’s personal life was more erratic, peripatetic or tragic than that of Seth Luther. No one traveled through America as extensively or delivered more public addresses. No one lived in a more impoverished condition or fought as hard for the working class. Luther was born in

Read More »

Edward J. McElroy

Edward J. McElroy, a former social studies teacher in Warwick, rose through union ranks to become national president of the 1.3 million member American Federation of Teachers (AFL). Ed started his labor career in the 1960s lobbying for passage of the Michaelson Act, which provided Rhode Island educators with the right to collective bargaining. He

Read More »

Daniel F. Longstreet

Daniel F. Longstreet (1850-1937) was a Gilded Age pioneer in labor-management-customer relations on the Providence street railway system. He later invented improvements for streetcars and helped to establish some of the national managerial organizations in the public transit industry. Longstreet participated in the Civil War by joining the Fourth Rhode Island Infantry at age 15

Read More »

Arthur A. Coia Esq.

Arthur A. Coia was born on March 21,1943 in the Italian section of Charles Street, Providence, Rhode Island graduating from LaSalle Academy, Providence College, and Boston University Law School. He is a founding partner with over 40 years of experience in the New England-based law firm of Coia and Lepore, LTD. specializing in labor law,

Read More »

George H. Nee

George Nee has been a leader of the Rhode Island labor movement for 35 years and currently serves as president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. Nee’s dedication to organized labor and civil rights began in earnest when he was inspired to leave Boston College in 1969 to help organize the grape boycott for the United

Read More »

Andrew “Andy” J. Coakley

Andy Coakley is remembered most as: “Lou Gehrig’s coach” in his 37 years as head of Columbia University’s baseball program. But this overlooks his extensive influence on the game. Once a promising right-hander with Connie Mack’s Athletics in the early 20th century, Coakley was also a labor pioneer, a forward-thinking league organizer, a team owner,

Read More »

Dr. D. Scott Molloy Jr.

Scott was born on August 17, 1946 into an Irish-Catholic, blue-collar family from the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood of Providence that had close ties to organized labor. His working-class background and his Irish ethnicity exerted profound influences upon his career and his achievements. Scott eventually became a labor leader and Rhode Island’s foremost labor historian as

Read More »

James P. Riley

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

Read More »

Thomas Carney

Thomas Carney, 1927-2016, was the legendary hero of the highways known as “Blue Max”. He is credited with saving countless lives and helping hundreds of accident victims in his 28 years as a big rig, nationwide truckdriver. He has been called “the truckdriver’s greatest hero”. After retiring and living in Seekonk, MA, he was honored

Read More »

John F McBurney Jr

John F. McBumey, Jr., a member of Americas “Greatest Generation,” compiled a remarkable career as a highly- decorated war hero, collegiate and professional baseball star, teacher, influential state senator from Pawtucket, and prominent trial attorney. John was born in Pawtucket in 1925 and raised in nearby Attleboro. After his graduation from Attleboro High School in

Read More »

Lawrence N. Spitz

Lawrence Spitz of Sun City, Arizona, formerly of Providence and Woonsocket was a pioneer labor leader who was a strong advocate for the workingman. He became one of the State’s most effective iconoclasts, drafting its first labor relations act, and helping to gain major legislation for fair housing and worker representation at Blue Cross.

Read More »
Scroll to Top