One of the most influential union leaders in Rhode Island – and the whole country, really – is set to retire.
Armand E. Sabitoni, the general secretary-treasurer of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and the organization’s New England regional manager, has announced plans to step away from the organization next month after nearly 22 years on the job.
Sabitoni and General President Terry O’Sullivan are both retiring next month, which means the two highest ranking leaders of a union with more than 500,000 members in North America are departing around the same time.
The two leaders made their announcement to the laborers’ executive board this week, according to an internal message to members of the union.
The union didn’t have to look too far from Sabitoni’s home to find his replacement: Michael Sabitoni, his cousin and the current business manager for Local 271 in Rhode Island, will be the new general secretary-treasurer.
Both Sabitonis have enormous influence in Rhode Island politics, but Armand’s support is among the most coveted endorsements that Democrats seek. He was an early supporter of Gina Raimondo, and is among the allies who helped her forge a relationship with President Biden to become commerce secretary.
Armand was also a key early endorser of Governor Dan McKee, and he served on McKee’s transition team when he took over for Raimondo in 2021.
Michael’s promotion ensures that the laborers will continue to have a massive presence in Rhode Island politics.
He made headlines last summer when he was pulled over by State Police for speeding and refused to submit to a chemical test for alcohol, leading to a brief license suspension. He still maintained a significant presence on the campaign trail throughout 2022.
His first major test in his new role will come later this year as the laborers consider endorsing a candidate from what is expected to be a large field seeking to replace outgoing US Representative David Cicilline in the First District.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, links to interesting stories, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.
Dan McGowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.