Have Teacher Unions in Rhode Island Been Unlawfully Collecting Dues for Years?

 

Government officials take an oath of office to preserve the constitutional rights of their constituents. However, in Rhode Island, school board officials who approved agreements with special-interest public employee unions have effectively hidden those rights from their employees via unconstitutional collective bargaining provisions that are in direct defiance of the Supreme Court Of the United States (SCOTUS).

In 2018, the highest court in America ruled that public employees must retain power over their own paychecks. Yet, since then, many government unions in Rhode Island may have unlawfully collected dues from employees by propagating misleading language that overtly shields them from knowledge of their rights.

The landmark June 2018 US Supreme Court decision in the Janus v AFSCME case opened the door to worker freedom in America. But some of the old political machines were taken aback, especially government employee unions at the state and local level. SCOTUS ruled that no longer could a public employee be mandated to pay union “dues”, “Association fees”, “agency fees”, or “shop fees” as a condition of their employment.

Under the weight of this ruling, most public employee unions across the country, reluctantly realizing the great financial and legal risk of non-compliance, immediately amended their policies and subsequent contract agreements to comply with the new law … such that any dues payments could only be collected once the employee affirmatively provided clear authorization … but not so for many unions in Rhode Island.

According to the Mackinac Center in Michigan, one of nation’s top legal and public policy experts when it comes to government unions, Rhode Island’s rate of non-compliance with the Janus ruling looks to be among the highest in the country. The extent to which blatantly anti-Janus-constitutional provisions still exist in many teacher union Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) is alarming.

An initial review of about three dozen collective bargaining agreements with local school districts in Rhode Island reveals an alarming number – eleven (more than 1 in 4) – that were signed or put into effect after the Janus ruling, contained dues or fees mandate provisions that clearly defy the Supreme Court’s ruling … provisions that are legally unenforceable.

Types of language clearly violating the Janus Supreme Court ruling that were found in the eleven Rhode Island CBAs with local chapters of the NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME … unlawful provisions that remained in effect for years after 2018 … can be summarized as including passages that:

  • Require automatic deduction of dues or fees from employee paychecks without their expressed consent
  • Require payment of dues or fees as a condition of employment
  • Limit the union opt-out time-window for employees

The table below summarizes the unlawful language of offending school districts (supporting details appear as an Appendix at the end of this report:)

As an example of what a properly worded CBA should look like, post-Janus, we look to provisions in the agreement between the Glocester K-5 school district and the Glocester Teachers’ Association for the time period July 2019 to June 2022:

The Glocester school district maintained the above Articles 20 and 21, post-Janus, but appropriately REMOVED the following provision that appeared in the district’s pre-Janus CBA:

As national examples of how post-Janus federal court cases compelled government unions to appropriately modify their dues/fees collection policies, what follows is language from two related US Third Circuit cases:

LaSpina v. SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, 985 F.3d 278, 282 (3rd Cir. 2021). After the Supreme Court decided Janus, the Union abandoned its agency-fee setup. The day the Court issued its decision, Steve Catanese, president of SEIU Local 668, wrote to Jack Finnerty of the Scranton Public Library “that the Supreme Court has ruled in Janus” and has “held public-sector employers may no longer deduct agency fees from non-consenting employees.” Supp. App. 69. Catanese’s letter instructed Finnerty to, “effective immediately, please discontinue fair-share fee deductions.” Id. (emphasis in original).

“Therefore, under Janus I, Pennsylvania’s public sector agency shop law was no longer constitutional.” Diamond v. Pennsylvania Educ. Ass’n, 972 F.3d 262, 268 (3rd Cir. 2020). Circuit law directly on point.

Other Supreme Court precedent illustrates what must be done to demonstrate employee consent. The Court has ruled that, to demonstrate consent to a waiver of constitutional rights, there must be evidence that the waiver is a “knowing, intelligent act … done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” Brady v United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970). “It must also be done with “a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.” Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 421,421 (1986) …

Per the SCOTUS ruling, before employees can consent to financially supporting a public sector union, they must know both what their rights are and the consequences of waiving those rights.

Yet, not every school district in Rhode Island was as careful to follow the law as was Glocester, as many districts continued to allow overtly unconstitutional language to remain in their post-Janus CBAs, without providing employees with the required notification of their rights.

One of the most blatant examples of such an unconstitutional provision appears in the September 2018 Westerly Teachers’ Association CBA:

How did this happen? Elected school committee members were either complicit with teacher unions in allowing such “unlawful” language to remain, or they were unwitting victims of malfeasance or ill-advice by their school committee solicitors, who are highly paid to provide accurate legal guidance.

The fact is, that for over three years, many teachers and other school district staff in Rhode Island may have been fraudulently deceived into paying union dues or association fees because of the unconstitutional language in their respective CBAs. These employees likely had dues automatically deducted from their paychecks without ever understanding that their First Amendment rights – that they could not be forced to pay part of their paycheck to their union – had been restored in 2018.

Indeed, as compared with opt-out rates nationally, Rhode Island teachers and other public employees are choosing to “opt-out” of paying union dues at rates far lower than their counterparts in other states. While states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are seeing more than 15% of workers opt out of paying money to their unions, we estimate that less than 5% of Rhode Island union members have opted out. Now, we may know why.

In the majority Supreme Court decision in 2018, Justice Alito was noted that billions of dollars were likely collected by government unions nationwide in recent decades. Much of this money came from employees who never wanted to pay union dues in the first place but were forced to, because of prior legal precedent.

However, over the past three and a half years, Rhode Island unions may have similarly, yet unlawfully, collected millions of dollars in dues from employees who may have chosen to opt-out … had they not been deceived by clearly unconstitutional language.

Obvious questions must be asked, including:

  • How many teachers and school staff would not have paid union dues if they had been appropriately advised of their rights? How much money was fraudulently collected by unions?
  • Why do so man teacher union CBAs in Rhode Island contain such unconstitutional language? 
  • Why did Rhode Island school committees and teacher unions engage in such non-compliance so much more than any other state?
  • Did school committee members knowingly turn a blind eye towards this malfeasance, or were they completely ignorant of these obvious violations?
  • How can high-paid school committee solicitors allow such obviously unconstitutional language to be included in recent CBAs?
  • Is anything comparable to this level of unconstitutionality occurring in non-teacher public employee CBA contracts in Rhode Island?

Why in some cases, does the AFSCME CBA have proper language regarding dues and fees, while the teacher contract over the same period in the same school district has unconstitutional language?

The main question this report raises … is whether or not certain public teacher unions in Rhode Island conspired to illicitly collect union dues from unwitting teachers and staff?

This is not the first time that a government entity in Rhode Island has exhibited such blatant defiance of the US Supreme Court’s Janus decision. In 2018, our Center’s MyPayMySayRI.com campaign triggered a public letter of warning from then Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, after our outreach initiative sought to educate government workers about their restored Janus rights. The letter from Rhode Island’s highest law enforcement official contained numerous unsubstantiated, unspecified, and false assertions of “misinformation” being put forth by our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, such as the bogus claim that we were mis-informing public employees of their rights not to join or pay union dues or fees.

Then, as now, the pattern of government officials in Rhode Island conducting the bidding of public sector unions – at both the state and local level – even to the extent of seeking to obfuscate the constitutional rights of its members … runs directly contrary to the public oaths they took upon entering office.

A review of non-school district CBAs will soon be conducted by the Center.

The following Appendix lists images the actual passages from post-Janus teacher-union CBAs in Rhode Island that contain language that does not comply with the US Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.


APPENDIX

Rhode Island School Districts with Unconstitutional Collective Bargaining Provisions

 

Burrillville: NEA Contract Period: September 2021-2024

Page-40: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=YnNkLXJpLm5ldHxob21lfGd4Ojc1NTMwZjU2M2U5MDhiMQ

Page-5: https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/236104/CF_CBA_18-21_FINAL_FORM.pdf 

Foster-Glocester: NEA Contract Period 2020-2023

Page-29: http://www.fg.k12.ri.us/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=9841126

Johnston: AFL-CIO Local 808 Contract period 2017-2020, extended in 2020 by the school district

Pages 4-5: https://www.johnstonschools.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=20171014

June 2020 Johnston School District Minutes

 

Lincoln: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021

Page-4: https://www.lincolnps.org/cms/lib/RI50000681/Centricity/Domain/44/L2671-contract-2018-2021-02-07-19-FINAL.pdf

New Shoreham: AFSCME Contract Period 2019-2022

Page-2: https://4.files.edl.io/4ef8/11/15/19/153226-ac2437cb-2ef2-43d3-8fb7-ab0bbf4cb0cf.pdf

North Smithfield: NEA Contract Period 2021-24

Page-6: NSTA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Portsmouth: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021
Page-2:

https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/1355692/Council_94_Contract_7.1.18_-_7.30.21.pdf

Tiverton: NEA Contract Period; 2019 –

Page-9: http://www.tivertonschools.org/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=8558123

Westerly: NEA Contract Period September 2018-2021

Page-5: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V6e4ChNvhLkp6-Y0zqPUdieauxOzAMvm/view

West Warwick: AFT Contract Period September 2018-2023

Page-21: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NdyhtJYJb0SibVVm0BXmthzTkehxDtjU/view

Center’s Chairman Files Federal Lawsuit to Overturn State of RI Ban on Caring for His Patients

Dr. Skoly Files Federal Lawsuit
Complaint alleges that the State’s actions barring him from caring for his patients are unconstitutional, irrational, arbitrary, and vindictive

Cranston, RI – Dr. Stephen Skoly and his legal team today filed a lawsuit in federal court against defendants Governor Daniel McKee and Nicole Alexander-Scott, the outgoing Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), seeking an order to enjoin the State from barring him from caring for his patients as well as a restraining order that would immediately restore his right to continue his practice.

Dr. Skoly, Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom of Prosperity and a highly respected oral and maxillofacial surgeon who regularly provided service to those institutionalized by the State, was ordered by RIDOH on October 1, 2021 to cease providing his critical surgical care to patients, after his request for a medical exemption for the Covid-19 vaccine was denied.

The official complaint was prepared by attorney Brian Rosner, Senior Litigation Counsel for the nationally renowned and Washington, DC based New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) and was filed today in the United States District Court for Rhode Island by local attorney Gregory Piccirilli.

“After four months of being forced out of work, I still held out some hope that all mandates might come to an end in mid February. But now, with Rhode Island’s Speaker of the House and Senate President openly planning with Governor McKee to extend his executive orders and unilateral powers for at least another two months … I am left with no choice but to file this lawsuit,” exclaimed Skoly, who for 18 months of the pandemic safely cared for his patients.

At a special breaking news event, Rosner and Skoly will address the public and the media live today at 4:00 PM virtually on The Ocean State Current in a hybrid press-conference/interview format, hosted by the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse.

The 34-page complaint puts forth two primary arguments for the Court to consider:

First, the complaint claims that Dr. Skoly’s “equal protection” and “due process” rights were violated, under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In Dr. Skoly’s case, the State of Rhode Island has awarded hundreds of related exemptions to various healthcare professionals, while simultaneously denying Dr. Skoly equal consideration and failing to provide the legal due process that he is entitled to.

Second, the complaint cites that it was an “irrational and arbitrary move” for RIDOH to deny Dr. Skoly’s valid request for a medical exemption. The complaint not only documents Dr. Skoly’s naturally acquired immunity and antibody testing, but also his personal medical history of suffering from Bell’s Palsy facial paralysis, a condition that has scientifically been demonstrated to be associated with the Covid-19 vaccine … and where at least fifteen such cases have been reported in Rhode Island. Risking re-activation of such paralysis in order to continue his medical practice is repeatedly cited in the complaint as an irrational demand by the State of Rhode Island, which has caused “hardship and suffering to hundreds of Rhode Islanders” who are denied care by Dr. Skoly.

In advancing its “equal protection” argument, the complaint discusses how N95 masking has essentially been designated by the State as an acceptable alternative to vaccination. Dr. Skoly, who has agreed to comply with required testing and masking protocols, presents no more risk to patients than the hundreds and thousands of other healthcare workers, vaccinated or not, infected or not, who are currently allowed to care for patients under those same protocols. The complaint continues that the State, in allowing masked and “infected” workers to retain their livelihoods, while barring (infection-free) Dr. Skoly from practicing his profession, is guilty of an “arbitrary and capricious distinction” that “denies Dr. Skoly the equal protection of the law” .. an “action that has the appearance of being vindictive.”

Sources have informed the Center that RIDOH staff have privately admitted that Dr. Skoly was being made an example of, in part, because of his association with “that conservative organization” … as Chairman of our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Supporting Dr. Skoly’s position, and included in the filing, are over a dozen affidavits from local medical professionals, including statements from multiple national experts on Bell’s Palsy and Covid-19, as well as citation of recent findings from the CDC and updated policies from other countries.

Also, to date, about 4000 emails have been delivered to state officials via an online petition whereby concerned citizens and can #StandWithDocSkoly . The petition, plus related documentation and links can be found on the Center’s website at RIFreedom.org/DocSkoly.

DLT Joins RI DOH in Persecution of Doc Skoly

DLT Denies Unemployment Benefits Under Pressure from DOH
Governor and General Assembly Silent as Targeted Abuse Continues

Cranston, RI – In a shocking example of coordinated government abuse, the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (DLT) has apparently caved under pressure from the Department of Health (DOH) to deny benefits to Dr. Stephen Skoly, after the latter issued a compliance order that banned the longtime surgeon from providing critical care to his private and wards-of-the state patients, effectively shutting down his practice.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has obtained copies of notices from DLT to Dr. Skoly, citing “Voluntary Quit” and “potentially fraudulent activity” as reasons why his claims for unemployment benefits were “disqualified” … even though another government agency was directly responsible for Skoly’s unemployment status.

It was initially communicated by a DLT official that Skoly’s original benefit denial was in error … and would soon be remedied. However, it appears RI DOH has since over-ruled the DLT, as part of its effort to destroy Dr. Skoly for daring to exercise his first-amendment rights.

“I have always put the safety of my patients as my number one priority. But this act of government totalitarianism clearly indicates that public health is not the DOH’s top priority. In targeting me for punishment, these vengeful acts demonstrate that this is all about politics” exclaimed Skoly, the Center’s Chairman, who for decades was the sole contractor to the RI DOH to provide his specialty care. Dr. Skoly has not been allowed to care for his patients for two months and was forced to lay-off his 12 person staff, who are now collecting unemployment payments at taxpayer expense. “My attorneys are right now preparing my legal challenge.”

Dr. Skoly’s plight will be discussed in detail by Mike Stenhouse and co-host Steve Laffey today at 4:00 PM EST on the popular In The Dugout show at OceanStateCurrent.com/LIVE .

Even worse, even though Skoly has been paying into the state’s unemployment fund for decades for himself and his staff, DLT has also denied benefits to laid-off employees of Dr. Skoly’s practice.

“Outrageous; this is an obvious and corrupt conspiracy. I have learned through my sources that government officials are making an example of Dr. Skoly because of his affiliation with our Center,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO. “It should be of grave concern to every Ocean Stater that unelected bureaucrats like Nicole Alexander-Scott can wield such vengeful and absolute power … while feckless elected officials like Governor McKee and Speaker Shekarchi just stand back and let it all be. We have truly reached crisis levels of unchecked bureaucratic tyranny.”

This is not the first time unelected and unaccountable ideologues at DOH have maliciously exerted their power over other branches of government. Shortly after DOH issued its October 1 compliance order against him, and with it becoming increasingly obvious that wards of the state were suffering because they could not receive his care, Dr. Skoly received word that Governor McKee might consider offering him a special-circumstance extension. However, in subsequent negotiations, Alexander-Scott’s staff refused to acknowledge the Governor’s offer, which was immediately pulled from the table.

Initially, after issuing its compliance order against Dr. Skoly, the RIDOH also refused to comply with the prescribed regulatory process or provide any formal hearing, as required, to consider Skoly’s unique medical exemption claim, which includes high levels of naturally acquired immunity against the Covid-19 virus.

As an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, Dr. Skoly’s practice should be regulated by the state’s Board of Examiners in Dentistry, a legitimate and long-standing regulatory review process. However, RI DOH … recognizing the great respect Dr. Skoly has rightfully earned from this board’s members after decades of stellar service as a contractor to the State and as service provider to private patients … instead bypassed that longstanding process and arranged a sham ‘administrative’ hearing earlier this month to uphold its unlawful compliance order.

Then, in early November, the RI DOH openly defied Governor McKee … after he granted extensions to workers at two hospitals regarding their compliance with Rhode Island’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate … when it slapped violation notices on the Landmark Medical Center and the state-operated Eleanor Slater Hospital as a precursor to eventual fines and patient care restrictions.

Dr. Skoly, an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, questions why the RIDOH refuses to recognize his naturally acquired immunity to Covid19 (and other healthcare workers’) as a legitimate medical exemption. In late September, he made public his decision to not comply with the state’s October 1 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, a decision he based on his personal and rare medical history as well as his principled belief in individual liberty.

As the over-whelming body of scientific evidence supports Dr. Skoly’s position, the Center has for months publicly called for the DOH to include natural immunity as an allowed exemption for any Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

While the Center opposes government-imposed mask and vaccine mandates, the data clearly demonstrates that “natural immunity” is an important policy consideration; and that the existing RI DOH healthcare worker vaccine mandate, for as long as it is allowed to legally stand, must be immediately modified (as the science overwhelmingly suggests) to include “natural immunity” as an approved case for exemption.

Earlier this fall, based on analysis of state and international research data, as performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom, in support of a conclusion that has been publicly advanced by a growing host of nationally prominent immunologists, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center) called on the Rhode Island Department of Health to include “natural immunity” as an allowed “contraindication to vaccination” on the official RI DOH medical exemption form.

In the Center’s policy brief published by Dr. Bostom, an adjunct medical scholar to the Center and a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, when assessing the benefits and risks of natural immunity to Covid-19 as compared with immunity from the vaccine, Bostom joins an increasing number of medical professionals and institutions in concluding that the body’s natural immune system provides a more robust and longer lasting protection against Covid-19 than do the currently offered vaccines.

To date, about 4000 emails have been delivered to state officials via an online petition whereby concerned citizens and can #StandWithDocSkoly . The petition, plus related documentation and links can be found on the Center’s website at RIFreedom.org/DocSkoly.

General Assembly to Blame for Children Suffering Irreparable Harm?

Southwell v. McKee Court Ruling Puts Onus on Lawmakers

While Children Suffer, General Assembly Does Nothing

Parents Demand House Speaker & Senate President Engage

Cranston, RI – “The court finds children are suffering … irreparable harm … physical and emotional … with potential long-term medical problems … with the mask mandate.”

These were just some of the chilling findings by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear in his ruling this past Friday, even though he denied the parent-plaintiffs the temporary restraining order they sought to end school mask mandates in their Southwell v. McKee lawsuit.

Yet for the entirety of the pandemic, General Assembly leaders have been AWOL, allowing this harm to children, as well as considerable other economic and constitutional harms, to continue unchecked and in the shadows.

In speaking for the 34 plaintiff parents, and for all concerned parents, lead plaintiff, Richard Southwell, said, “As does every parent in this state, we are concerned with the well-being of our children. We strongly disagree with the judge’s opinion that the State’s claimed risks associated with spread among unmasked children in any way outweigh the problems our children are actually suffering. The public needs to hear what we heard in court,” continued Southwell, who, along with other parents, will be guests of Mike Stenhouse on his popular In The Dugout show at 4:00 pm today at OceanStateCurrent.com/LIVE .

In ruling against the plaintiffs, the judge essentially ruled that it is not within the purview of the court to over-rule a “political” policy that does not clearly violate a constitutional right. Such a decision, the judge wrote, is a “question left to the legislative and executive branches of government.”

“In light of these deeply troubling findings, the General Assembly no longer has the luxury of watching from the sidelines. Your direct and immediate action on this issue is required. There can be no delays. There can be no more excuses,” pleaded Southwell.

For 18 months, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has called on the General Assembly to come out from hiding and restore more balanced governance and transparent debate during the pandemic.

In August, 32 legislators, likewise concerned, signed a letter to the Governor calling for an end to the mask mandate, while threatening legislative action if he did not, a power statutorily granted to the General Assembly. However, legislative leaders quickly shut down any follow-up mutiny and continued to refuse to show any leadership on behalf of the public they serve.

With these stunning findings of pediatric harm confirmed by the court, the suffering of Ocean State students must be addressed forthright: The Center calls upon General Assembly leaders to immediately convene hearings to determine if school mask mandates and other ’emergency executive orders’ should be contravened by concurrent resolution.

“Who is really running this state? Elected officials – the Governor, Senators, and Representatives … or unelected ideologues at the RI Department of Health,” cynically asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Through their inaction, Speaker of the House Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio obviously do not want the responsibility of governing over pandemic related policies … but the judge was right, this is their job … and it’s high time they show some courage and get to work for the people. It is their duty to hold public hearings whereby all of the facts and issues can be openly debated. For too long, the Governor and RIDOH have ruled unchecked and without necessary public scrutiny.”

Earlier this morning in an email, Southwell invited Shekarchi and Ruggerio to meet with his parent group Wednesday evening, however, thus far, there has been no response.

Decisive evidence presented during the October trial, as well as the overwhelming body of national and international research, clearly show that there is no medical justification for masking children over prolonged periods of time. The Center maintains that this important information must be presented, debated, and assessed transparently in a public hearing that only the General Assembly can credibly hold.

DOC SKOLY IS STANDING UP FOR ALL OF US … WILL YOU STAND WITH HIM?

Dr. Stephen Skoly, chairman of our Center, has been practicing oral surgery in Rhode Island for over three decades – and safely over the entire period of the pandemic. Now, the insiders want to shut him down. Sign the petition now!

Analysis of research data performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom Natural Immunity Should be Included as a Vaccine Exemption.

Policy Brief: Natural Immunity Should be Included as a Vaccine Exemption

Executive Summary: Analysis of state and international research data, as performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom, along with historical norms, support the conclusion that “natural immunity” should be allowed as a “contraindication to vaccination”, or exemption, to mandated vaccinations.

Bostom, an adjunct medical scholar to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, when assessing the benefits and risks of natural immunity to Covid-19 as compared with immunity from the vaccine, has joined an increasing number of medical professionals and institutions in concluding that the body’s natural immune system provides a more robust and longer lasting protection against Covid-19 than do the currently offered vaccines.

With thousands of vital health care professionals in Rhode Island facing termination or loss of their medical licenses if they do not comply with the non-science-based October 1 vaccine mandates imposed by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Center argues that more health care services can be safely delivered if more healthcare workers are allowed in the field.

Currently, the RI DOH only allows post first-dose vaccine adverse reactions, a history of myocarditis or pericarditis heart conditions, or recent Monoclonal AntiBody Treatments as viable contraindications for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Dr. Bostom studied ample data from an Israeli Health Maintenance Organization; from a United Kingdom Healthcare worker survey; and from data supplied by the RI DOH. Bostom summarized the key findings from the published Israeli research (full text and citations below), as follows:

    • The risk of new clinical symptomatic infection is 7.0 times lower among those previously infected and who were not vaccinated, as compared to those with no prior infection, who were fully vaccinated
    • The risk of Covid-19 hospitalization is 6.7 times lower among the same cohorts describe above

Further, not only are vaccinations for those previously infected not necessary, the data indicates such vaccinations would cause increased health risks:

  • Based on the extremely low rate of transmission among the previously infected, it would take 883 vaccinations of previously infected healthcare workers to prevent just ONE new asymptomatic case among that group
    • Reactions to these 883 vaccinations would produce 80 instances of “moderate to severe symptoms”

Finally, July 2021 data supplied by the RI DOH itself appears to validate the above findings, while also suggesting that vaccinations do not reduce spread more than natural immunity:

    • 30% of new Covid-19 infections in RI were ‘breakthrough’ cases, occurring among fully vaccinated persons
    • Of the 2127 people infected in July, only 3.4% had prior infection, regardless of vaccination status
    • The same ratio (3.4%) of those infected in July, who had prior infection, were fully vaccinated

In Michigan, Western Michigan Spectrum Health is now allowing its healthcare workers to use natural immunity as a Covid-19 vaccine mandate exemption. Prominent medical professionals such as Harvard Medical School ProfessorMartin Kulldorff, Dr. Marty Makary from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Scott Atlas from Stanford University, and immunologist Dr. Hooman Noorchashm are among many esteemed experts who have also publicly expressed their views on the importance and effectiveness of natural immunity. Even Dr. Robert Malone who invented the messenger RNA vaccine method agrees that T and B cell immunity is superior to spike-based vaccines.

In conclusion, while the Center opposes government- imposed mask and vaccine mandates, the data clearly demonstrates that “natural immunity” is an important policy consideration; and that the existing RI DOH healthcare worker vaccine mandate, for as long as it is allowed to legally stand, must be immediately modified, as the science overwhelmingly suggests, to include natural immunity as an approved case for exemption.

Detailed Findings:

Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination for Previously SARS-CoV-2 Infected Rhode Island Healthcare Workers Yields an (Unacceptable) Risk / “Benefit” Ratio of Eighty to One: A Published Evidence-Based Estimate, Confirmed by Rhode Island Department of Health July, 2021 Data

Originally published on 13th September 2021 | by Dr. Andrew Bostom

When assessing quantitatively the benefit/risk (or risk/benefit) ratio for any therapeutic intervention, two simple numerical standards are employed: the number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent a single health outcome of interest, and the number needed to harm (NNH), or each adverse event caused by the same therapy, per the number to whom it is administered (1). Both NNT and NNH are dependent on absolute risk differences between the treated and untreated comparison groups. The NNT/NNH or NNH/NNT, provide quantitative estimates of the benefit/risk, or risk/benefit ratios, respectively.

The question of whether to mandate covid-19 vaccination of previously SARS-CoV-2 infected healthcare workers can be uniquely illuminated by calculating NNT and NNH from recently published data (2,3). Moreover, as I will demonstrate, the NNT/NNH calculations from these published findings (2,3) are independently validated by Rhode Island Department of Health July, 2021 data just released August 31, 2021 (4,5).

Data from the Israeli Maccabi Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) have revealed that prior SARS- CoV-2 infection among those unvaccinated against covid-19 conferred a 7.0-fold decreased risk for new clinical, symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, and a 6.7- fold lower risk for covid-19 hospitalization, relative to those with no prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, but fully vaccinated against covid-19 (2). Although secondary analyses from this Israeli HMO cohort found, similarly, that covid-19 vaccination of previously SARS-CoV-2 infected persons did not reduce either symptomatic, clinical SARS-CoV-2 infections, or covid-19 hospitalizations, the occurrence of asymptomatic SARS- CoV-2 infections was reduced (2). This latter finding can be used to calculate the NNT for prevention of new, asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections, afforded by covid-19 vaccinating those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, and recovered from their infection.

The NNT for asymptomatic infection prevention, using the absolute risk reductions, is calculated as follows, from the formula, NNT=1/absolute risk reduction:

37/14,029=0.0026 in the unvaccinated, previously infected, vs. 20/14,029=0.0014, in the vaccinated, previously infected. The absolute risk difference is a mere 0.0012 so 1/ 0.0012 gives a NNT of 833 to prevent 1 asymptomatic infection. (Also, the absolute risk reduction is only 0.12%; another way of expressing this vanishingly small benefit) NNH can be calculated from published United Kingdom Healthcare worker survey data comparing the reactions of those covid-19 vaccinated with and without prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (3). The proportion reporting one moderate to severe symptom was higher in the previous SARS-CoV-2 infected group (56% v 47%, OR=1.5 [95%CI, 1.1–2.0], p=.009), with fever, fatigue, myalgia-arthralgia and lymphadenopathy significantly more common. NNH is 56%-47%=9%, or 0.09, then 1/0.09=11.1. Thus, for each ~11 previously SARS-CoV-2 infected healthcare workers vaccinated, 1 developed a “moderate to severe symptom,” including “fever, fatigue, myalgia-arthralgia and lymphadenopathy (3).”

Comparing the NNT (from 2)/ NNH (from 3) ratio, 883/11, indicates that if you covid-19 vaccinated n=883 previously SARS-CoV-2 infected persons (for example, healthcare workers), ONE asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection would be prevented, while EIGHTY persons vaccinated would experience “moderate to severe symptoms,” including “fever, fatigue, myalgia- arthralgia and lymphadenopathy.

Finally, July, 2021 SARS-CoV-2 (covid-19) infection data collected by the Rhode Island Department of Health, with presentation of the findings by both vaccination, and prior infection status, provide independent validation of these NNT/NNH results (4,5). While 30% of these total (n=2127) new SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred among persons fully covid-19 vaccinated (639/2127), only 3.4% of those with a prior infection, regardless of vaccination status, were infected in July (73/2127). Fully vaccinating those with a prior covid-19 infection did not lower this percentage at all (22/639=3.4% fully vaccinated; 51/1488=3.4% not fully vaccinated).

REFERENCES:

1) Citrome L. “Show me the evidence: using number needed to treat”. South Med J. 2007; 100: 881- 4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17902287/
2) Gazit S, Shlezinger R, Perez G, Lotan R, Peretz A, Ben-Tov A, Cohen D, Muhsen K, Chodick G, Patalon T. “Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections”. medRxiv August 24,2021. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415
3) “Self-reported real-world safety and reactogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines: An international vaccine-recipient survey”. Mathioudakis AG, Ghrew M, Ustianowski A, Ahmad S, Borrow R, Papavasileiou LP, Petrakis D, Bakerly ND medRxiv, February 26, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.26.21252096
4) “Prior infection, vaccination status, and age-stratified Rhode Island Department of Health, July 2021 data on covid- 19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths sent to Sen. Delacruz and Rep. Chippendale,
8/31/21”. https://www.andrewbostom.org/2021/09/prior-infection-vaccination-status-and-age-stratified-rhode-island- department-of-health-july-2021-data-on-covid-19-infections-hospitalizations-and-deaths-sent-to-sen-delacruz-and-rep-
chippendal/
5) “Rhode Island Department of Health, July 2021, Data Reveal Prior Covid-19 Infection in the Unvaccinated (Natural Immunity)~8.5-Fold More Protective Against New Covid-19 Infections, and ~1.5-Fold More Protective Against Covid-19 Hospitalizations, Vs. Full Vaccination, Without Prior
Infection”. https://www.andrewbostom.org/2021/09/rhode-island-department-of-health-july-2021-data-reveal-prior- covid-19-infection-in-the-unvaccinated-natural-immunity8-5-fold-more-protective-against-new-covid-19-infections- and-1-5-fold-more-p/

Our kids are watching. Disgraceful CRT programs must be stopped. The GA can help end these battles by returning schools to basics.

Save our Schools: Center Calls on General Assembly to be Heroes and End Divisive School-based Race Wars

Providence, RI – In community after community, with parents, teachers, and local school committees at war with each other over K-12 curriculums, including gender and racial theories that may be taught to their children, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity calls on the General Assembly to end the divisiveness by passing unifying legislation in the upcoming special fall session.

“Whether you believe in the tenets of Critical Race Theory or not, the issue is explosively divisive and is tearing our communities apart,” commented the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “It is not appropriate that any concept that promotes any racial stereotype be taught to our children. State lawmakers have the chance to save our schools and be a hero by closing the door they unintentionally opened in 2019.”

The Center recommends that a version of House Bill H6070, which was heard in committee in March then tabled, be re-considered when the General Assembly reconvenes this fall. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Patricia Morgan, would prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts by requiring all contracts at the state and local level to effectively prohibit the teaching of race- or gender-based guilt.

It is the contention of the Center and many others that legislation signed into law in 2019 (S0863 sub B) gave far too much authority to the statewide RI Department of Education (RIDE) when it comes to curriculum development, thereby limiting options for local schools. With strong evidence suggesting that RIDE itself, backed by powerful teacher unions, is pushing controversial gender- and race-based theories down into local school districts, lawmakers must act boldly and decisively to nip-in-the-bud this burgeoning problem they unwittingly enabled.

Case in point: Tonight’s Westerly School Committee agenda includes consideration of a resolution, brought by the leader of a local parent group (Bob Chiaradio) and modeled after H6070, to prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts. The public debate is likely to be heated. Undoubtedly, other parent groups will bring forth similar resolutions, in response to the public division and conflict that is brewing in cities or towns across our Ocean State.

“Our kids are watching us to see what kind of example we set. The disgraceful labeling and threats must be brought to a stop,” continued Stenhouse. “The General Assembly, with one fell swoop, can help end these battles and return education to its basics; including an objective, inclusive, and truthful teaching of our proud American history.”

Rhode Islanders are encouraged to call on legislative leaders to pre-emptively diffuse tensions in schools and pass a version of H6070 … by visiting the Center’s Action Center at RIFreedom.org/ActionCenter.

Center Calls for Suspension of “Indiscriminate” High School Vaccine Clinics

Legal, Medical, and Moral Questions Surround the Apparent Indiscriminate Rush to Vaccinate Students

Providence, RI – The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today calls on the Governor, the RI Department Of Health (RI DOH), mayors, and town administrators to suspend high-school based vaccination clinics until six critical legal, medical, and parental-rights questions are addressed.

The RI Department of Health has declared that students ages 16 and up are medically “emancipated” from their parents or legal guardians, and thus parental consent forms are not necessary. Cranston opened its first clinic at Cranston High School East this morning, with clinics in additional cities and towns expected to come online in the following days and weeks.

Yet public details of the controversial program are shrouded in mystery and appear to violate long-time accepted medical tenets.

“This rush to indiscriminately vaccinate every eligible student, 16 years or older, and without parental consent, is certainly not moral and may not be medically safe or legally defensible,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “Families and the public need to know if vital safeguards and precautions have been put in place.”

From a legal perspective, according the Robert G Flanders, board member of the Center and former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court … while Chapter 23-4.6 of Rhode Island’s general laws appears to give persons the age of sixteen (16) or over the right to consent to “routine” or “emergency” medical or surgical care, many private attorneys question whether the Covid-19 shot, which is widely categorized as an experimental treatment not yet fully approved by the FDA, qualifies as either routine or as an emergency medical treatment.

Paraphrasing what one prominent civil rights attorney in the state said on a recent radio interview: the legality of applying this statute to this pandemic shot is flimsy enough, where he would not want to stand in the shoes of a government entity that might have to defend itself against an individual case that might produce some adverse health event.

The temporary EUA pandemic vaccines should not be considered as routine, nor is there any emergency situation threatening these children’s lives or health where this statute might apply and deprive their parents of the right to consent to such treatment.

  1. Before these school-based clinics are allowed to continue the Center calls on the RI DOH to release its legal opinion as to why it believes these students are legally emancipated for these vaccines, so that appropriate public debate and legal scrutiny can take place.

From a medical perspective, it is unclear if the maxim of “informed consent” will be followed before students are administered the shots. Informed consent means that patients are informed of the risks and benefits of any treatment before moving forward. It is unclear if students will be afforded this widely accepted practice. 

  1. The state and each school district should make their respective ‘informed consent’ policies publicly clear so that appropriate review and discussion can occur.

According to research by Dr. Andrew Bostom, adjunct scholar to the Center and Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, there are multiple reasons why young adults should not indiscriminately rush to receive the vaccine and why informed consent is so critical:

  • Healthy teenagers 16-19 have an extraordinarily low risk of severe adverse medical consequences if they contract the coronavirus.

  • The risk of an adverse Covid-19 vaccine medical reaction is significantly higher than that of the annual flu shot, according to data on the CDC’s own website, potentially leading to hospitalizations or fatalities.

  • The potential long-term risks of these vaccine treatments are not yet known

  • Teenagers who have recovered from a coronavirus infection also need to be informed that their naturally-developed immunity is at least as protective as any immunity that might be conferred by a vaccine.

  • Anyone who may have contracted the virus, could be at increased short-term risk of adverse reaction to the vaccine.

  • There may exist instances, rare as they may be, where a specific vaccination may pose increased risks for certain individuals with certain medical conditions. The maxim of first “consulting with your physician” also appears to be purposefully ignored.

  1. What data and studies, and what medical rationale does the DOH cite in justifying this rush to vaccinations of young adults?

From a moral perspective, there are two important considerations.

Parental-rights. Even if legal, based on private discussions and public interviews conducted on the popular video blog show, In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse, parents are outraged and believe it is immoral that their children are being subjected to experimental medical treatments without their consent.

Not only do parents believe that they have the right to authorize care for their children, but families are concerned that students may be bullied … via peer pressure from fellow students, teachers, or administrators … into making rash medical decisions. 

The opposite of informed consent, it anathema to the medical community, and of significant concern to parents, that any student or patient be coerced or forced into receiving any medical treatment. 

  1. How will school districts ensure not only that “informed consent” appropriately happens, but also that no “coercion” or “bullying” occurs in pressuring students into signing up for the treatment.

Vaccine Passports: As Governor McKee all but admitted in a recent press conference, and as the letter from Cranston Public Schools stated in its clinic announcement letter, it appears that schools may soon require vaccinations from students if they are to be allowed to participate in “spring end-of-year events such as the junior and senior proms and graduation-related events.”

In mandating experimental health care treatments for any reason, this assault on medical freedom, personal choice, and parental rights is immoral. Such tyrannical acts by government and government schools in Rhode Island, not only runs counter to the concept of individual liberty, but runs counter to policies that more enlightened states are implementing. For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to soon sign legislation that passed its state legislature that would impose a $5,000 fine on any school or business for each time it requires a “vaccine passport” or proof of vaccination in order to be a participant or patron. 

  1. Legal or not, what is the state government’s official position on the justification for this infringement on parental rights?

  1. Will the State commit to banning ‘vaccine passports’ for any and all high school events?

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee has been misinformed by his Covid-response and mask mandates are not effective in stopping the spread of the corona-virus.

Governor McKee Mis-informed About Mask Mandates

Dr. Andrew Bostom, Adjunct Scholar to the Center and Epidemiologist, Invokes Objective Evidence in Requesting That Governor McKee End The Mask Mandate and Fully Re-Open Rhode Island

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee has been misinformed by his Covid-response team and has not adequately considered data and views that demonstrate that mask mandates are not effective in stopping the spread of the corona-virus. This according to Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, epidemiologist and adjunct scholar to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, who today called on McKee to end the mask mandate.

Bostom, also a Brown University Academic Internist, rejects the Governor’s contention that he has considered alternative views and data regarding the effectiveness of masks. Dr. Bostom notes that despite the state’s mask mandate, with multiple extensions and a 96% compliance rate (the highest in America), Rhode Island one month later would suffered a twin-peak infection spike from mid-December 2020 to mid January 2021, per the chart below:

Additionally, from 2008 through the end of 2020, 12 randomized, controlled trials—the gold standard for judging medical intervention effectiveness—involving some 18,000 persons, including a 6,000 person study with covid-19 infections as the outcome, have EACH FAILED to show community masking reduces the rate of respiratory viral infections. Twenty-four (24) states have lifted, or never had an indoor mask mandate, and ALL have lower per capita covid-19 mortality rates than Rhode Island.

“Please end Rhode Island’s indoor mask mandate, and fully re-open the state, immediately, based upon this wealth of objective, irrefutable evidence,” advised Bostom, whose views that challenge the status quo Covid narrative gained increased prominence when he began regularly appearing on the Center’s popular video blog series, In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse.

Further supporting Dr. Bostom’s call to end the mask mandate, is the fact that Rhode Island’s covid-19 percent positive test rate for 11 straight weeks has been 2.5%, or below; the week ending April 24th it was 1.9%. Hospitalizations are flat/declining at low levels, and deaths even flatter: between April 22nd and 26th there were 3-days with zero deaths per day.

CDC tracking data shows that 91% of Rhode Islanders 65+ years old have been at least partially vaccinated, and that group accounts for almost 90% of the state’s covid-19 mortality. Another large swath of people under 65 years old— some 100,000—have been infected with covid-19 clinically (and more sub-clinically), and recovered, and are now contributing robust, natural herd immunity to the state’s population, in addition to those ~300,000 under 65 who have been partially vaccinated.

References:

protection: A three-month nationwide experience from Israel” https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.20.21255670

For Earth Day, “No TCI Gas Tax” Letter Sent to Governor McKee by 12 Advocacy Organizations and Citizens Groups

Massive Burdens on Businesses & Families with No Environmental Benefit

   

Providence, RI – On Earth Day 2021 (April 20-22), a coalition of 12 advocacy and citizens groups joined the Center’s prior call on Governor Daniel McKee to withdraw Rhode Island from the controversial TCI Gas Tax regional compact, ostensibly designed to reduce carbon emissions, but, which in reality, is nothing more than a pure money grab.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, authors of the open letter, thanked McKee for his prior voiced support for the small business community. The coalition’s letter went on to point out how artificial new fuel taxes, the goal of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), would create large and unnecessary costs on the private sector – for no environmental benefit.

With a TCI Gas Tax bill expected to be submitted soon, after former Governor Raimondo signed-on to the TCI scheme in 2020, the 12 group coalition also called on the current Governor to pledge to veto any related legislation.

“The dishonesty of TCI proponents is alarming,” claimed the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “They falsely claim they can achieve major emissions reductions with a minor gas tax. In reality, the multi-year plan would raise fuel taxes by 40 to 50 cents per gallon … and would do virtually nothing to reduce global carbon emissions.”

The letter cited studies and public polls demonstrating that the highly regressive gas tax, and the projected $1200 per family cost, are highly unpopular among the public. A petition opposing TCI has already generated over 10,000 emails to state lawmakers.

The coalition letter also discusses the competitive advantage the Ocean State would enjoy regionally by not joining the TCI compact and keeping fuel taxes where they are.

The letter concludes it appeal to McKee by stating: “Withdrawing our state from TCI would be a terrific first-step and would send a strong signal that you are serious about improving our state’s dismal business climate.”

In March, the Center unilaterally called on McKee to withdraw from TCI. After receiving strong support, this larger coalition effort was put together.

The entire letter and a listing of all 12 coalition signatories can be found here.