Nov 18, 2022
by STUART APPELBAUM President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
November 17, 2022
The holiday shopping season is already underway, with sales starting earlier than ever, and shoppers are coming back to stores and are ready to hunt for values. But it’s important that shoppers and retailers recognize one of the greatest values they’ll find in these stores: the value brought by retail workers to the holiday shopping experience. Retail workers are the face of the stores they represent and they’ll help shoppers find the perfect gifts, let them know where to find the best deals, and aid with returns and exchanges. The value they provide for both retailers and shoppers should be recognized by all of us as they help make our holiday season a great one for our families.
It’s a challenging time and season for retail workers. They aren’t seeing their wages keep up with the increased cost of living amid higher grocery bills and increasing rents and utility costs. Staffing issues persist at many stores, stretching workers thin and adding to their responsibilities at the worst possible time. Supply chain issues continue to affect the availability of high-demand items, adding to customer frustration.
Big crowds, irritable customers, busy days, and the need for workers themselves to take care of their own holiday obligations can all weigh heavily on workers’ shoulders. Too many shoppers and employers don’t appreciate the pressure that retail workers are under this time of year.
And, especially for retail workers in non-union stores, the stress of the holidays is stacked on top of the daily obstacles they face every day of the year: insufficient hours, insufficient wages, and unpredictable scheduling that makes it difficult to work another job, plan childcare, or attend school. Non-union retail workers may have no control over when they work, regardless of their own holiday plans, and they likely won’t be compensated fairly for working during the holidays. For these workers, it can be a struggle just to survive—to say nothing of providing their families with a joyous season.
Workers are not to blame for shoppers’ frustrations and the challenges of the post-pandemic economy and supply chain, and they need support from shoppers and their employers. Stores should provide security, safety protocols and training to handle agitated shoppers this season as well as safe staffing levels to meet the longer demand period. And shoppers need to remember what this season is supposed to be all about—kindness.
When we are doing our holiday shopping this season, let’s take some time to consider the stress the workers who are helping create holiday memories are under. Lend a smile, and some patience to workers and your fellow shoppers. It’s the time of year we can all give a little back and do our best to spread good will.
You can also read the column in New York Amsterdam News.
Nov 18, 2022
FOR RELEASE: November 15, 2022
Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected]
AMAZON HOLIDAY STATEMENT FROM RWDSU
(NEW YORK, NY) – As the holiday shopping season gets underway, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), issued the following statement urging Amazon to treat workers with dignity and respect – especially at this time of year:
“Amazon kicked off Prime Day in early October, and has continued to turn up the pressure on workers as it gears up for the busy holiday season, which means this year’s peak period will be one of the longest and most stressful for the workforce.
“Every year at this time, Amazon workers across the world are forced to work mandatory overtime at an often-unattainable pace that results in injuries. Workers at Amazon’s warehouses are pushed to the limits to meet unreasonable quotas and demands from nameless and faceless algorithms and apps on their phones.
“Amazon must be held accountable for its inhumane quotas and unsafe working conditions, which are injuring workers around the globe at an alarming rate. No worker should ever have to worry if they’ll go home injured after a shift or if the pace they’re working will have long term damaging effects to their physical and mental health.
“Amazon must recognize the health and safety needs of its employees. It needs to reduce the unbearable pace of work which has resulted in thousands of documented physical and mental injuries – a pace of work that is only exacerbated this holiday shopping season.
“Most importantly, Amazon must stop union-busting. The company has continued to repress workers' voices and prevent their ability to make effective change at work – which can only happen when workers are able to join together through a union. This year, workers are standing up in the United States and across the globe to say enough is enough. Amazon cannot continue to treat workers as disposable and this Black Friday, workers will be taking action to demand that they be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.