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.”  

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.