Tipped New York Workers Call for Minimum Wage Reform

Workers in restaurants, nail salons and car washes rallied Friday to kick off a campaign to push for one single minimum wage — instead of the lower one tipped workers currently take home. David Mertz, New York City director of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said car wash workers already face dangerous conditions on the job. “On top of it all, they are told that they have to rely on the kindness of strangers to just put a little bit of money in that tip box. And they have to hope that that money in that tip box actually gets into their pockets,” he said. “It’s a terrible system. There’s no standard for tipping at car washes.” Read more at the NY Daily News Continue reading

RWDSU Endorses Luis Sepúlveda for NY State Senate

RETAIL, WHOLESALE AND DEPARTMENT STORE UNION ENDORSES LUIS R. SEPÚLVEDA FOR STATE SENATE A Champion for Working People   NEW YORK, NY – Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced the union’s endorsement of Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda in his special election bid for State Senate in the 32nd District. Assemblymember Sepúlveda has carried key legislation over his three terms in the Assembly that impacts not just RWDSU members, but all workers in New York State, including his push for early education initiatives, healthcare and immigration rights.   “Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda has earned the support of the RWDSU in his bid for the New York State Senate because he knows his community inside and out and he works tirelessly to effect real change that helps lift up working people. He has stood with us on issues like raising the minimum wage and combating wage theft, and worked to make our state fairer and more inclusive by advocating for protection of voting rights and enacting criminal justice reform. We know Luis will continue to be a strong advocate for his district and we proudly endorse his campaign for State Senate today,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Another Strong Contract At Mott's in Upstate NY

In April, members of RWDSU Local 220 in Williamson, New York, overwhelmingly ratified a new contract. The hard-fought contract includes strong hourly wage increases over the next five years, reduced healthcare costs and job security provisions that will protect the members well into the future. This is a huge win for the over 300 Local 220 members who produce iconic household products including Mott’s applesauce, apple juice, and the Clamato beverage, among others. In 2010, Mott’s workers went on strike in the face of unacceptable contract provisions offered by the company. Despite it all, they were able to win a fair contract showing the real power of unionized workers. This time, negotiations lasted just seven weeks and workers were able to secure one of the strongest contracts in their history. “The workers at Mott’s proved years ago that if you stand up for what you believe in and you stand united that you can protect and advance the needs of working people. This contract is one of the best that we have ever negotiated at Mott’s and we are proud of the members for sticking together. Once again, they have set an example for workers everywhere,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “Our member driven negotiations team worked tirelessly to secure a strong contract for all 300 plus Mott’s workers. I am proud of our team, our work and our new contract. To see how far we’ve come in just under a decade to secure one of our strongest contracts shows the real power of RWDSU Local 220 and I couldn’t be happier to return to work shoulder to shoulder with our team under this new contract,” said Jerome Camp, President of Local 220. Serving on the negotiating committee were Local 220 President Jerome Camp, Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Thomas, Executive Board member Roland Graham, Chief Steward Ron Wilber , Recorder Chris Hermenet, and members Albert Joslyn and Bob Wenzel.

Union to U.S. Companies: Show us the Tax Cut Money

Big unions are challenging American companies to show them the tax-cut money.  Before the sweeping tax cuts were passed late last year, major U.S. corporations joined President Trump and Republicans in Congress in vowing the reform would grow the economy, create jobs and raise wages. And since then, many have boosted minimum wages, doled out bonuses and increased spending and charitable giving.  But the unions want companies to go a step further. As part of ongoing contract negotiations or talks set to begin within months, unions including the Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters and the American Federation of Teachers are asking companies such as AT&T and American Airlines to reveal how much the tax overhaul will fatten their profits and what they plan to do with the windfall. They’re demanding that the companies specify the portion of the gains that will be used to boost wages, bring back jobs from overseas and make capital investments as well as the amount going toward increasing executive pay and buying back stock. read more here at USA Today

Pres. Appelbaum Applauds Anti-Harrassment NY Budget Provision

Today, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for including landmark legislation in the FY 2019 budget that actively combats sexual harassment across the state.   “At a time when we see efforts in our nation’s capitol to roll back women’s rights, New York’s Governor Cuomo is working to increase them. Friday’s announcement that New York State is committed to stopping discrimination, disrespect or abuse of any kind in the workplace is a model for our country. We are proud to live in a state where women are valued and protected; and we thank the Governor and legislature for making sure this remains the case,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). 

CUNY Food Workers Complain of Poor Conditions, Low Wages (NY TImes)

One cafeteria worker at Kingsborough Community College said that he suffered a severe ankle injury after slipping on a grease trap that had not been properly secured, and spent almost five months on disability. Another cafeteria worker, at the New York City College of Technology, said that even though she has often worked more than 40 hours a week at her supervisors’ request, she has never been paid overtime. Still another, who graduated from Queens College with a degree in food service management, said that her wages were so low that she cannot afford health insurance. Those are among the anecdotes collected by the first-ever survey of people who work at the cafeterias, coffee shops and kiosks serving tens of thousands of students and faculty, throughout the City University of New York system. The survey results were released on Wednesday. Read more here at the New York Times

Retail Action Project Release Survey of CUNY Food Service Workers And Their Workplace Conditions

The Retail Action Project has released a Struggling To Feed Their Families, A Survey of CUNY's Food Service Workers. The report shines a light on the daily workplace and living conditions of the food service employees throughout the City University of New York system. The survey solicited responses from approximately 450 CUNY food service workers spread across 14 campuses, serving students in various settings from cafeterias to kiosks. Continue reading

RWDSU, Unite HERE Local 100 and Local 1102 RWDSU Herald Port Authority’s New Wage Proposal – Finally Members Will Earn a Living Wage

Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Bill Granfield, President, UNITE HERE Local 100, and Alvin Ramnarain, President of RWDSU Local 1102 announced their support for the Port Authority’s new wage resolution, which would steadily increase workers base wages, many of whom were receiving minimum wage, to $19 per hour by 2023. RWDSU and Unite HERE represent over 7,600 workers across the New York area airports who work in airline catering and airport concessions, but implementation of the proposal could impact tens of thousands of workers at area airports. Workers could start seeing pay increases as early as this summer. Joint Statement from: Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Bill Granfield, President, UNITE HERE Local 100, Alvin Ramnarain, President of Local 1102 of the RWDSU: “We enthusiastically support the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s new wage resolution, which was unanimously approved at today’s Board of Commissioners meeting. Service workers at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty, are key to the success and security of our region’s airports. The new wage floor of $19 per hour by 2023 shows tens of thousands of workers that they are valued by the people of New York and New Jersey and will allow hard working men and women to finally support themselves and their families with their airport job. Crucially, we were happy to see that the Port Authority’s resolution covers all airport service workers. This remedies an oversight in the previous policy, passed in 2014, which did not include airline catering workers. We applaud the Port Authority for approving this resolution unanimously.”

Undocumented Workers Find Ally as Union Fight Deportations

As the Trump administration takes its fight against undocumented workers to the workplace, some US unions are stepping in to protect their members and creating a new battlefront between the Republican party and organized labor. Last May Hugo Mejía Murguía, an undocumented worker from northern California, got a call to report to work. It was a shift that would change his life and launch a national campaign. When he arrived at the Travis air force base in Fairfield, California, military police called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) after seeing his California driver’s license indicated his undocumented status. Ice also detained a second worker, Rodrigo Núñez. “My life just changed in only five or 10 minutes. I felt like I lost everything,” the father of three told the Guardian. Two weeks later when his wife came to visit him in an immigration detention center, much to his amazement, he learned that his union, the Painters Union Local 82, was hiring a lawyer to represent him. read more here at The Guardian

Brooklyn CVS Workers Demand First Contract

Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members at the CVS located at 1070 Flatbush Avenue, in Brooklyn, NY held a community rally to call upon CVS to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for their Brooklyn workers. The Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members there have been in negotiations for their first contract since March 2017, but the company has repeatedly rejected reasonable proposals. The workers and community members were also joined by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and a representative from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office.  This CVS in Brooklyn is the first unionized CVS store on the East Coast and workers there voted to join Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW in August of 2015. The company initially attempted to overturn the results from the union election but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overruled the appeal and recognized Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW as the workers’ bargaining representative last year. Since then, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW along with a committee of workers at CVS, have attempted to negotiate a contract with the company. Currently, there are a few thousand CVS employees on the West Coast, including California, who are also union members of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW). The contracts in California provide a number of benefits and workplace protections for both full and part-time workers including, living wages, health benefits, a retirement plan, and paid time off. CVS rejected Local 338’s RWDSU/UFCW initial proposal for a union contract that is similar to what union members on the West Coast receive, instead the company is insisting on keeping the workers at the Flatbush Avenue location at lower pay scales and benefit levels. “For almost 14 years, I’ve worked hard for CVS but never felt truly valued by the company, which is why my coworkers and I voted to join Local 338,” said Adrian Caddle, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member working at CVS in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “When I learned that there were union members working at CVS on the West Coast, I was glad to hear about the guaranteed wage increases in their contracts that weren’t based on store location or individualized reviews. But there hasn’t been any relief because CVS doesn’t take us or our requests seriously. I am going to be in this fight with my coworkers until we are treated equally as other CVS workers and to make sure that everyone who comes after us gets what they deserve.” “I took a position with CVS because I saw an opportunity to advance with the company. Unfortunately in the three and half years that I’ve worked at the store in Flatbush, I’ve seen that this isn’t the case even as business continues to grow,” said Debbie Henry-Haughton, Local 338 RWSDSU/UFCW member working at CVS in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “I voted to join Local 338  because I saw the value of having a voice at work and I intend to continue to use my voice. My coworkers and I work hard and we have earned the right to be treated fairly.” “We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that CVS has shown a total disregard for the men and women working at the CVS in Flatbush from the time that these workers voted to unionize,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “There has been a precedent set by UFCW Locals on the West Coast for a strong union contract that provides workers at those CVS stores with living wages, paid time off and a number of other benefits that the company is denying the workers in Flatbush. This has left us to ask why California and Oregon but not New York? These hardworking men and women also live in a high cost area and are no less deserving of the opportunity to provide for their families.” “CVS workers in Brooklyn need dignity and respect on the job – and we won’t back down till they get it,” said David Mertz, NYC Director of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Just because workers live in different states doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently. CVS’s utter refusal to even hear the needs of our members is disgraceful and they should be ashamed.” “The workers at CVS deserve to have their voices heard. It’s been almost three years since these workers engaged in the democratic process and voted for fair representation by Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW,” stated New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. “When workers come together and demand fair treatment and respect on the job in a democratic way, management must pay heed and give them the contract they deserve.”