This past Saturday, union members throughout Rhode Island began sweeping the state in support of local businesses and their Unions Buy Local campaign in Garden City.
Approximately 30 members of the National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI), the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP), Cranston Teachers’ Alliance, Working Rhode Island and other unions formed a cash mob in the shopping center to give a jolt to local businesses. As part of the campaign, upon completion of every local purchase, union members are presenting the cashier, waitress or storeowner with a “Union Buck” that identifies them as a proud union member and supporter of local businesses. The campaign is designed to encourage union members to support local businesses within their communities.
“There has been so much negative talk lately about hard-working, middle-class public and private union employees, and much of this talk has come from the business community,” said Larry Purtill, president of NEARI. “But we shouldn’t be fighting with each other. We should be working together to grow local businesses and grow local economies. In Rhode Island alone, we have over 100,000 working and retired union members. This campaign is our way of showing the business community that we are the ones spending money in their shops. We are the ones eating in their restaurants. We are the ones who support them on a daily basis.”
Each week, cash mobs of union members will assemble in a different town and spend their money in local shops and restaurants. The six-week campaign will cover cities and towns throughout the state and will not be limited to just those towns where the cash mobs assemble.
The campaign will run through Father’s Day.