RWDSU Announces First Congressional Endorsements in Alabama

(BIRMINGHAM, AL) – Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Randy Hadley, President of the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU announced the union’s endorsements of Tabitha Isner and Mallory Hagan for Congress.  The RWDSU’s 10,000+ members across Alabama will begin their work in support of their campaigns by phone banking, canvasing and spreading the word among fellow members who work in poultry processing, nursing and other industries in the state.   “Tabitha Isner and Mallory Hagan will bring integrity to Congress that has long been missing in the 2nd and 3rd Districts of Alabama,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “These two astounding women will fight for working people and for legislation that lifts people up.  Both Tabitha and Mallory will work to build a better education system for our children, make childcare affordable and paid parental leave a reality.  For these and so many more reasons, we are proud to support their candidacies and put the full backing of the RWDSU and our membership behind their campaigns.”   “When two strong women don’t just say but show you that they will fight to keep working families strong in Alabama, they have our support.  Tabitha Isner has pledged to raise wages in Alabama, something we desperately need; and Mallory Hagan will be a real representative for the people of East Alabama, she knows our children are our future and has worked tirelessly to fight for the education, care, and resources that will build a brighter future for our state.  Tabitha and Mallory, you have our support and our members are ready to get to work on your campaigns,” said Randy Hadley, President of the Mid-South Council of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).   Today’s endorsements are the first of a forthcoming slate of RWDSU endorsed candidates across the state. The RWDSU has been a strong political force across Alabama that helped secure the elections of U.S. Senator Doug Jones and Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham among others.

RWDSU Leadership Re-Elected

(ATLANTA, GA) – Saturday, March 3, 2018 the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) unanimously re-elected its leadership at their 23rd Quadrennial National Convention in Atlanta, GA. Stuart Appelbaum was re-elected as President from New York, Jack Wurm, Jr. as Secretary-Treasurer from Michigan, Joseph Dorismond as Recorder from New Jersey, Tina Buonaugurio as Executive Vice President from Massachusetts, and John Whitaker as Executive Vice President from Alabama. Additionally, 12 regional Vice Presidents were elected from across the country.   “Representing the members of the RWDSU is a privilege and humbling. I have never been prouder of anything in my life than being part of the RWDSU with so many courageous and strong women and men from every background and from all over the country. We left the RWDSU convention optimistic and determined. Strong unions have never been more important for working people than they are today; and even in this harsh environment, we will continue standing for our values. That is the only way forward,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).   “I couldn’t be more honored to have been re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer of the RWDSU. I’ve been a member since 1969 when I drove a bread truck for Butternut Bread. In all my years with our union I’ve seen how we’ve adapted to our changing world. Our industries may have changed with e-commerce and automation in manufacturing, order fulfilment and delivery; but one thing is certain – our values have not changed, and they never will. We continue standing for our values just as we always have. And despite growing anti-union rhetoric, we continue standing with each other, our families and our communities to make our voices heard. I could not be prouder to continue to serve the members of the RWDSU,” said Jack Wurm, Jr. Secretary-Treasurer of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).   The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) held its 23rd Quadrennial Convention with over 400 Delegates, Alternates and Guests in Atlanta, GA. The RWDSU selected this year's convention location to reaffirm the union's commitment to organizing in the south, and because of Atlanta's historic role in our nation’s civil rights movement.   Additionally, over a dozen labor unions from around the world with whom the RWDSU has worked on high profile organizing wins including H&M and ZARA were in attendance. Among the resolutions adopted, the RWDSU called on Ivanka Trump Collection to sign on to the Bangladesh Accord, as have hundreds of fashion manufacturers around the world. The Accord was the worlds response to the horrific loss of over 1,100 people at Rana Plaza a large ready-made clothing factory in Bangladesh. The accord has over 200 signatories to date including H&M, Inditex, PVH and Adidas among others. The absence of the Ivanka Trump Collection is glaring. (A complete list of resolutions and final text as resolved will be provided upon request).   Speakers at the convention included several major city mayors – Bill de Blasio of New York City, Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta and Randall Woodfin of Alabama; Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; the leaders of two global union federations – Christy Hoffman of UNI Global Union and Sue Longley of the IUF; Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW); Christina Jimenez, Co-Founder and Executive Director, United We Dream; Ben Jealous, Former President of the NAACP; and James Fields of Alabama.

RWDSU Convention Closing Day

Saturday, March 3, 2018   The second and final day of the RWDSU Convention featured addresses by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and United We Dream Executive Director Cristina Jimenez. The session also saw the re-election of RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm, and Recorder Joseph Dorismond. Several resolutions were considered and passed, including one to urge Ivanka Trump to sign on to the Bangladesh Accord, which many other clothing companies have signed to ensure safer workplaces for garment workers in Bangladesh. Trump has so far refused to sign the Accord, despite the fact that thousands of garment workers have been injured or killed in unsafe workplaces in Bangladesh. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't let the northeast storm keep him away from the RWDSU Convention. The Mayor spoke with the Convention via Skype, praising the RWDSU as an organization that "helps improve the lives of working people, which helps lift us all higher." De Blasio said he's proud to work with the RWDSU on important issues that help build stronger communities in New York City.     Watch the Convention videos: RWDSU: Standing For Our Values Welcome to Atlanta Collective Bargaining Organizing Political Involvement Immigration Action     President Stuart Appelbaum Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm Recorder Joseph Dorismond   AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (above) Global unions Federacion de Servicios de CCOO, Handels, and Unionen were given an award recognizing their efforts in helping workers around the world.   (above) Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble - a group of labor activists from North Carolina - brought music of inspiration and action to the convention floor.  

Words, Music, and Action of inspiration

At the first day of the RWDSU Convention, words and music of inspiration, and videos showcasing members and accomplishments from throughout the U.S. fired up delegates, alternates and guests. Important business was accomplished as a dozen resolutions were considered and passed, and committees took to the stage to deliver reports. Among the resolutions, the RWDSU pledged to fortify its contracts with provisions that will improve training opportunities for members, childcare funding and gender equality in the workplace. The RWDSU also adopted organizing resolutions that will grow our union through global support from fellow unions, global framework agreements and internal organizing in our current sectors. Through political action, the RWDSU has won legislative battles that have lifted workers up across the country. At the convention we pledged to double down on our political work and build strength in local, state and federal government.  Above all, an overriding theme emerged; through organizing, negotiating strong contracts, and political involvement that furthers the interests of workers, together, we are all standing for our values. During the first session special emphasis was placed upon the fact that RWDSU activists continue to move working people forward in the South, despite hardships that have slowed others down.  The union’s success in the South shows the tenacity and resourcefulness of RWDSU organizers and activists. Addressing the convention, UFCW President Marc Perrone commented on the union’s conviction and strength, even in the face of a political environment that is increasingly hostile to working people. “We never back down from a fight, and we never give up,” Perrone said. “We show them every day that we will do what it takes to fight back and win!”  "We are holding our convention in the South to make the statement that you can organize in the South -as we have done - and that the South is an important part of the future of the American labor movement; and to recommit ourselves to the civil rights struggles that helped define our country,” President Stuart Appelbaum said during his address to the convention.

Standing Up For Our Values in Atlanta

RWDSU delegates, alternates, and guests have come together in Atlanta, Georgia, ready to take part in the 23rd Quadrennial RWDSU Convention. They came from across the U.S. and across the world, as a larger number of international guests than ever before are joining the RWDSU, reflecting the increasing importance of relationships among global activists. This past week hundreds of RWDSUers began arriving here in Atlanta and preparing for the convention, which begins this morning at 9 am. On Thursday, dozens of RWDSU volunteers helped assemble the delegate bags, including materials like the a political update, folder, RWDSU Constitution, and the red RWDSU hat that all attendees will wear for the panoramic convention photo this afternoon. Volunteers also helped assemble the popular RWDSU goodies bags, which provide a real taste of what RWDSU members do across North America. From pepperoni to diced mangos, RWDSU members make it all. As arriving members registered for the convention yesterday afternoon, the excitement built. It’s the only time every four years that we come together, to celebrate what we’ve done, set the course for the future, and stand four our values. Read the full preview issue of the Daily Convention Report here

Georgia Nestle Workers Ratify First RWDSU Contract

Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that the workers at Nestlé’s logistics and shipping center in McDonough, Georgia, voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract. After winning an NLRB conducted election in April 2017, workers improved conditions at the facility, won a voice and fair treatment in the workplace, as well as job security and guaranteed wage increases through their first collective bargaining agreement. The team at the Southeast Council of the RWDSU worked tirelessly through natural disasters in the area, and in a politically challenging climate to amplify over 100 workers’ voices in the Nestlé workplace. Through it all, the Southeast Council persisted and secured a first contact for workers in negotiations with Nestlé. This announcement comes just days ahead of the RWDSU’s 23rd quadrennial convention in Atlanta, Georgia a key location for the union as it continues to organize in Right to Work states, win a union voice for workers in previously anti-union workplaces, and strong contracts across the south in food processing and distribution. “Nestlé is an international household name, but just because their warehouse and distribution workers don’t interact with customers doesn’t mean they don’t deserve dignity in the workplace. Today these workers got the respect they deserve,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU). “I am proud of our member-led negotiations committee, which was able to secure the basic human dignity they suffered without for decades.” “The people of Georgia are fighters, and the workers at Nestlé here in McDonough are a strong force for change – and I could not be prouder to work with them to secure their first contract,” Edgar Fields, President of the Southeast Council, RWDSU said. “Absolutely nothing could stop our new members from fighting for the critical provisions of their first contract – it doesn’t solve everything, but it is a great first contract that lays a strong foundation for workers to get the seniority recognition, guaranteed wage increases, and a voice in the workplace that they needed and deserved.” The ratification of this, the first contract for Nestlé workers in McDonough, Georgia, was conducted on Sunday, February 18, 2018 and was approved by an overwhelming margin of 94%. RWDSU represents over 100 workers at the distribution center where the members handle shipping and logistics for Nestlé and handle food product packaging, and truck and train loading at the facility. Nestle workers first voted to join the union on April 5, 2017.

RWDSU 23rd Quadrennial Convention

On March 1-3, in Atlanta, Georgia, the RWDSU held its 23rd Quadrennial Convention. Saturday, March 3, 2018   The second and final day of the RWDSU Convention featured addresses by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and United We Dream Executive Director Cristina Jimenez. The session also saw the re-election of RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm, and Recorder Joseph Dorismond. Several resolutions were considered and passed, including one to urge Ivanka Trump to sign on to the Bangladesh Accord, which many other clothing companies have signed to ensure safer workplaces for garment workers in Bangladesh. Trump has so far refused to sign the Accord, despite the fact that thousands of garment workers have been injured or killed in unsafe workplaces in Bangladesh. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't let the northeast storm keep him away from the RWDSU Convention. The Mayor spoke with the Convention via Skype, praising the RWDSU as an organization that "helps improve the lives of working people, which helps lift us all higher." De Blasio said he's proud to work with the RWDSU on important issues that help build stronger communities in New York City.     Watch the Convention videos: RWDSU: Standing For Our Values Welcome to Atlanta Collective Bargaining Organizing Political Involvement Immigration Action     President Stuart Appelbaum Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm Recorder Joseph Dorismond   AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (above) Global unions Federacion de Servicios de CCOO, Handels, and Unionen were given an award recognizing their efforts in helping workers around the world.   (above) Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble brought music of inspiration and action to the convention floor.   Friday, March 2, 2018   At the first day of the RWDSU Convention, words and music of inspiration, and videos showcasing members and accomplishments from throughout the U.S. fired up delegates, alternates and guests. Important business was accomplished as a dozen resolutions were considered and passed, and committees took to the stage to deliver reports. Among the resolutions, the RWDSU pledged to fortify its contracts with provisions that will improve training opportunities for members, childcare funding and gender equality in the workplace. The RWDSU also adopted organizing resolutions that will grow our union through global support from fellow unions, global framework agreements and internal organizing in our current sectors. Through political action, the RWDSU has won legislative battles that have lifted workers up across the country. At the convention we pledged to double down on our political work and build strength in local, state and federal government.  Above all, an overriding theme emerged; through organizing, negotiating strong contracts, and political involvement that furthers the interests of workers, together, we are all standing for our values. During the first session special emphasis was placed upon the fact that RWDSU activists continue to move working people forward in the South, despite hardships that have slowed others down.  The union’s success in the South shows the tenacity and resourcefulness of RWDSU organizers and activists. Addressing the convention, UFCW President Marc Perrone commented on the union’s conviction and strength, even in the face of a political environment that is increasingly hostile to working people. “We never back down from a fight, and we never give up,” Perrone said. “We show them every day that we will do what it takes to fight back and win!”  "We are holding our convention in the South to make the statement that you can organize in the South -as we have done - and that the South is an important part of the future of the American labor movement; and to recommit ourselves to the civil rights struggles that helped define our country,” President Stuart Appelbaum said during his address to the convention.         Thursday, March 1, 2018   Welcome to Atlanta - Watch the Welcome Video   RWDSU delegates, alternates, and guests have come together in Atlanta, Georgia, ready to take part in the 23rd Quadrennial RWDSU Convention. They came from across the U.S. and across the world, as a larger number of international guests than ever before are joining the RWDSU, reflecting the increasing importance of relationships among global activists. This past week hundreds of RWDSUers began arriving here in Atlanta and preparing for the convention, which begins this morning at 9 am. On Thursday, dozens of RWDSU volunteers helped assemble the delegate bags, including materials like the a political update, folder, RWDSU Constitution, and the red RWDSU hat that all attendees will wear for the panoramic convention photo this afternoon. Volunteers also helped assemble the popular RWDSU goodies bags, which provide a real taste of what RWDSU members do across North America. From pepperoni to diced mangos, RWDSU members make it all. As arriving members registered for the convention yesterday afternoon, the excitement built. It’s the only time every four years that we come together, to celebrate what we’ve done, set the course for the future, and stand four our values. Read the full preview issue of the Daily Convention Report here    

RWDSU Endorses Jose Peralta for Re-Election to State Senate

Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced the union’s endorsement of State Senator Jose Peralta in his bid for another term.    “We have worked closely with Jose since his time on the staff of the New York City Central Labor Council, as a member of the Assembly and in recent years as a member of the State Senate. In the legislature, he has championed key legislation that impacts not just RWDSU members, but all workers in New York State. His push this year for a bill to strengthen the Wage Theft Prevention Act would, if passed, help car wash workers, retail workers and food service workers recover stolen wages.  He has fought for on-call scheduling reform and an end to the tip credit for car wash workers among other priorities.   We support Jose’s campaign and we stand with him as he has with us,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).    “We also strongly believe that it is time for the Democrats in the state senate to re-unite so that we can finally enact the progressive legislation which working people so desperately need. That should be our most important goal. The Governor, the leaders of both the Democratic conference and the IDC and other major political players in the state have all agreed to a plan that could lead to Democratic control of the state senate. Part of that proposal provides that members of both conferences would not challenge incumbent state senators at this time - for the sake of finally achieving a Democratic state senate. Several good people are nonetheless running primaries. However, we believe it is a sign of bad faith for them to be challenging the incumbents at this point. Instead, they should be supporting the unity plan, as do we. If the purpose of their candidacies is to provide for a Democratic state senate, what they are doing is counter-productive. We call on all challengers to stand aside for now, so that we can give the unity plan a chance to succeed. All Democrats should be supporting the unity plan - and should not be supporting the primary challengers who could unravel it.”   “I am thrilled to be receiving this endorsement from the good people of RWDSU on my re-election campaign. My progressive ideals will always go hand in hand with working families, and my legislative record speaks for itself, from pushing to pass the Paid Family Leave program to increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. RWDSU and its members embody the values we strive to achieve here in New York, and they are the backbone of our economy. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with RWDSU to push for a progressive agenda that reinvests in our workers and improves the lives of working families in my district and across this great state,” said Senator Jose Peralta.   

Bangladesh Accord Swells to Over 100 Brands

GENEVA, February 14, 2018—Global unions IndustriALL and UNI are announcing today a major milestone for the 2018 Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: the number brand signatories has swelled past 100. As of today, 101 brands have signed the 2018 Transition Accord, which goes into effect when the 2013 Bangladesh Accord expires in May. The 2018 agreement currently covers more than 1,200 factories and at least 2 million workers. With new brands signing daily, these number are growing rapidly. An updated list of signatories can be found here: http://www.uniglobalunion.org/2018AccordSigners “The brands that have signed the 2018 Transition Accord are showing a commitment to transparency and to the safety of Bangladeshi workers,” said Valter Sanches, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “The Accord’s legally-binding framework is the only credible way to guarantee that life-threatening fire and structural hazards are remediated in a timely manner in ready-made garment and textile factories.” “We were confident that the vast majority of 2013 signatories would sign the 2018 Transition Accord and now that we have broken 100 signatories, we are almost there,” said Christy Hoffman, Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union.  “We’ve made improvements to the industry and turning away now simply doesn’t make sense. It is also important to make these advancements in worker safety sustainable through functioning Health and Safety Committees and the Transition Accord will put a priority on this work.” Speaking at the UNI Commerce Executive meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Stuart Appelbaum, the President of UNI Commerce and of RWDSU (UFCW) commented: “We are all proud to see so much progress with the Transition Accord, which breaks new ground in protecting freedom of association and continues the original Accord’s key focus on ensuring safety at work. It sends a strong message to employers all over the world that we are serious about changing the rules of the supply chain.” IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Jenny Holdcroft added, “The recent legal victory on behalf of Bangladeshi garment workers shows the power of the Accord in action. The Accord It is a legally binding commitment to make factories safe, and it has the power to fundamentally change the way garments and textiles are produced.” Last month, IndustriALL and UNI reached a US$2.3 million settlement under the 2013 Accord with a multinational apparel brand to remedy life-threatening workplace hazards. It was the second settlement of its kind, and one of the largest payments made by a brand to remedy workplace dangers in its supply chain. More about the Bangladesh Accord The Bangladesh Accord, which covers 2.5 million workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry, was established by IndustriALL and UNI in 2013 following the Rana Plaza disaster that killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured more than 2,000. It is the first agreement with a legally-binding mandate requiring fashion brands to require their contractors to eliminate fire, structural, and electrical safety issues. Accord inspectors have so far carried out inspections on more than 1,800 factories supplying over 200 brands, identifying over 118,500 fire, electrical, and structural hazards. Eighty-three percent of workplace dangers identified in the Accord’s original round of inspections have been remediated, and 500 Accord factories have completed 90 percent or more of the necessary fixes. The 2018 Transition Accord was signed in June of last year. The legally-binding document goes into effect when the original agreement expires in May and extends the Accord’s protections until 31 May 2021, unless a joint monitoring committee—comprised of Accord brand signatories, Accord trade union signatories, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Government of Bangladesh) unanimously agrees that a set of rigorous conditions for a handover to a national regulatory body have been met prior to then.  

RWDSU Backs Dettelbach for Ohio AG

The RWDSU, along with numerous UFCW locals and other unions in Ohio, has officially endorsed Steve Dettelbach for Ohio Attorney General. “The time has come for Ohio to have an Attorney General who puts people before politics. Steve has spent his career fighting for justice for working people, no matter who they work for, Steve is not afraid to stand up to business owners who hurt working people - no matter what,” said RWDSU Regional Director Rick Marshall. “We will fight for him to win this election, because we know he will fight for us as Attorney General,” Marshall added.