Housing Works Employees Vote to Join RWDSU

Housing Works employees voted by an overwhelming margin to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Dec. 23, representing a major victory for workers at a non-profit organization that serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing homelessness. Employees voted 88 percent to 12 percent to join RWDSU in a lopsided vote that sent a strong message to Housing Works CEO Charles King and his management team, which has mounted resistance to the organizing effort. According to RWDSU, contract negotiations will kick off next year. Workers covered under the bargaining unit include case workers, social workers, healthcare and retail employees, and maintenance and legal staffers. “We’re proud to finally and officially welcome the 605 workers employed by Housing Works into our union,” RWDSU’s president, Stuart Appelbaum, said in a written statement. “Workers experienced a needlessly long fight to unionize their workplace. Their tenacity and fortitude never wavered in this unnecessarily long process, which was stalled by their employer at every turn.” The vote came more than a year after workers stormed off the job last October and marched to Brooklyn Borough Hall, where employees — backed by RWDSU — aired out their concerns about low pay, poor healthcare coverage, high caseloads, and other issues at Housing Works, which also operates thrift shops in multiple locations around the city.

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