Valley View Manor Workers Ratify New Contract

Nursing home employees at Valley View Manor in Norwich, New York, will receive instant significant wage increases of 18 to 32 percent based upon their job classification with their new three-year contract. All employees will receive additional two percent increases in years two and three of contract, along with a ratification bonus up to $300, company match to the 401K plan for the first time, increased shift differential, and additional paid time off depending upon years of service. Reception workers have also been added to the Local 139 membership, giving them a union voice and contract for the first time. Serving on the Negotiating Committee were Roland Graham, Christina Feliciano, Crystal Sisco, and Heather Norton. L to R: Crystal Sisco, Heather Norton and Roland Graham and the rest of the negotiating committee brought in a great contract with numerous improvements.

Let’s take the stress out of holiday shopping!

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.

AMAZON HOLIDAY STATEMENT FROM RWDSU 2022

FOR RELEASE: November 15, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259   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).  # # # 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.

Holiday Shopping Statement from RWDSU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259HOLIDAY SHOPPING STATEMENT FROM RWDSU(NEW YORK, NY) – As the holiday shopping season gets underway and in-store shopping increases, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), issued the following statement urging holiday shoppers and employers to treat retail workers with dignity and respect amid continued supply-chain issues:“As retailers start their holiday shopping sales earlier than ever this year, the stress and pressure for retail workers during the holiday season is being extended by additional weeks. At the same time, incidents of harassment, violence and hate are continuing to rise in stores – causing workers to worry about their physical safety and mental health. “The supply chain is still precarious. Retail workers bear the brunt of shoppers’ frustration. Tempers quickly rise when customers hear that coveted holiday items are stuck in transit and have been backordered for months; and especially if they’ve gone to multiple stores only to go home empty handed. “Workers are not to blame, and stores should provide security, safety protocols and training to handle irate 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 – love, generosity and kindness. Shoppers need to treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). # # #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.

End all shapes and sizes of discrimination!

by STUART APPELBAUM President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union October 27, 2022 In the Big Apple, it’s still often legal to discriminate against people due to their weight or their height. That’s why the RWDSU, and a coalition of community and advocacy groups, is supporting an amendment to New York City’s administrative code that would ban New Yorkers from discrimination based upon height and weight. It’s an important issue; height and weight discrimination runs rampant and unchecked in many industries in New York, and it often goes hand-in-hand with racial discrimination and bias against women. Addressing height and weight discrimination with this legislation [Intro 0209-2022] is an important step toward fighting societal problems such as sexism, racism, and economic inequality.  This discrimination is prevalent in the fashion retail industry. Workers who are not protected by a union have no recourse against a boss who wants to discriminate against someone due to body size, and RWDSU representatives hear about it when they organize in these workplaces. Workers at some fast fashion stores have reported being forced to diet or risk being fired, with some even required to send full-body photos to executives for review. Workers in the industry have reported that management will only hire “skinny, white, and pretty” employees to work on their sales floors.  This bill would protect countless New Yorkers from this type of blatant, often systemic discrimination. It will help workers who can’t get a job, or who suffer from lack of promotion at work based upon not their performance, but their appearance. It will protect people who are seeking public housing or other public accommodations avoid being affected by discrimination. Businesses would still be able to receive waivers for “reasonable” exceptions or legitimate health and safety issues, creating a fairer playing field while still ensuring employers can operate appropriately and safely. Height and weight discrimination is intertwined with social injustice and racial discrimination. Studies show that people of color in the U.S.—Black and Hispanics—are more likely to be of a higher weight than white people. Black Americans are likely to be on average one inch shorter than white Americans, and Asian and Hispanic Americans average about three inches shorter in height than their Caucasian counterparts. Women in America are more likely than men to be considered obese, and studies show that women are more likely to be discriminated against than men due to their appearance.  Discrimination based upon appearance and size hits New Yorkers right in their wallets, hurts our communities, and hurts families. A study on the issue showed that larger workers earn lower wages and are more likely to be viewed negatively by hiring managers. Larger peoples’ performance is more likely to be viewed negatively by supervisors; with “weight bias” hurting workers’ overall compensation, performance evaluations, and even quality of training. As a society, and in our workplaces, discrimination due to appearance is sadly all too prevalent. Every single New Yorker deserves the right to a workplace and employment landscape free of prejudice and discrimination, and every industry in New York needs to recognize that good workers come in all shapes and sizes. Passing Intro 0209-2022 is how we can make this happen.  You can also read the column in New York Amsterdam News.

RWDSU STATEMENT ON NYS LOWERING THE FARMWORKER OVERTIME THRESHOLD

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 RWDSU STATEMENT ON NYS LOWERING THE FARMWORKER OVERTIME THRESHOLD After New York State Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon moved to adopt the 2022 Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, released the following statement: “The decision to lower the overtime threshold for agricultural workers to 40 hours a week is going to transform the lives of New York’s workers and their families. Farmworkers will be able to rest their hard-used bodies and avoid injury, spend more time with family, and have a better opportunity to earn more in wages and be able to sustain their families.  “Farmworkers have for too long been denied the overtime protections so many other workers have had for decades. This is momentous and heads New York on the right path towards economic justice for workers who have sustained and fed us through good times and bad.” # # # 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.  

NY Cannabis: Get your LPA, or Get Left Behind!

by STUART APPELBAUM President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union September 21, 2022 If you want to take part in the new adult use cannabis industry in New York, you will need a labor peace agreement (LPA), and you need to start getting your LPA in order today. If you don’t take care of this now, you’ll regret it; prospective operators who fail to have their paperwork in order will miss out on the first set of licenses. The RWDSU has been a key stakeholder in helping shape New York’s cannabis industry – beginning prior to the passage of Compassionate Care Act which brought medical cannabis to the state – into a responsible industry that creates good jobs and stronger communities. Part of this effort was to make it necessary for any company entering the industry to obtain an LPA. With the passage last year of the MRTA (Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act) which created the adult-use industry in New York, an LPA is again legally required for anybody seeking to enter the business. It’s part of what made MRTA a responsible piece of legislation centered around making social and economic justice – including for workers – a priority in this new industry and recognizing the importance of creating good jobs for New Yorkers. An LPA is a written and mutually agreed-upon document between a bona fide, established labor union, and an employer – in this case one that is licensed to operate in the cannabis industry. A cannabis employer agrees to never interfere with a union organizing campaign or to intimidate or threaten workers who are trying to unionize. In return, the union agrees that it will not picket, strike, boycott, or otherwise interfere with a cannabis employer’s business. Essentially, LPAs create a neutral environment that prevents the conditions where workers may feel their only recourse for gaining a voice on the job is through a workplace action. Instead, workers’ rights are respected, and workers are entirely free to determine for themselves whether joining a union is the best path for them. An LPA does not require employers to have a unionized workforce, and it does not interfere with whom employers choose to hire. It simply means workers can unionize if they want to, and union campaigns can proceed without unfair interference from employers. Cannabis companies will not have to negotiate union contracts unless their workers choose to organize. LPAs level the playing field and ensure fairness when it comes to workers and unions. And that’s good news for both workers and their employers in any industry; union workforces have lower turnover, better pay and benefits, better relationships with their employers, and workers who see their jobs as a career. They are more invested in both their employer’s success, as well as that of that of the full industry. Together, New York’s cannabis industry and New York’s unions are building a sustainable new industry that helps build our communities. The RWDSU is making it easy; visit cannabislpa.com for more information on LPAs and to start the process of securing one. It’s quick, it’s easy, and will help you meet one of the requirements to enter New York’s emerging cannabis industry. And if you take care of the paperwork now, you won’t be left behind as this new industry takes off in the Empire State. You can also read the column in New York Amsterdam News.

Local 1-S Member Ronald Jeffrey Gibbs Celebrates 50th Anniversary

When we talk about the difference having a union like RWDSU makes in a person’s life, our long-time members are the embodiment of what that difference can really mean. In the retail sector turnover is high at non-union stores, stores where workers are often overlooked. But in unionized stores like Macy’s, workers are the real magic of the store, they’re what keep customers coming back. And interacting with customers is often the best part of the job for workers too. That’s no more true than for RWDSU Local 1-S members like Ronald Jeffrey Gibbs, who’s been working at Macy’s Flagship in New York City’s Herald Square since 1972. On Monday, September 12, 2022, Mr. Gibbs walked into the store just as he does most days, dressed to impress, but that day marked 50 years of working at the same company: something that can only happen with a strong union contract like the one RWDSU has with Macy’s.  In September of 1972, Mr. Gibbs answered a hiring ad for Macy’s in the New York Times, having previously tried to work in the store in August. He arrived hours before the ad said to and stood in a 300-person line until he was interviewed at 1:00PM. After a few questions and a math test, as was common at the time, he was hired by 2:00PM and 50 years later he still walks through the doors early every workday to ensure he’s on time.  Mr. Gibbs started at Macy’s in the sub-basement working in the cosmetics receiving department, putting prices on the merchandise in specific places so as to not obstruct any words on the packaging. His manager saw a precision in his work and shortly he was transferred to the then grocery department on the 8th floor where he worked for many years. He truly enjoyed his time in the gourmet food department helping customers, where he spent over 30 years “It was very exciting working with all these different types of foods from all around the world,” Mr. Gibbs said of his time in the marketplace. Yet again, his attention to detail landed him upstairs in the merchandise processing department and eventually back in sales in the Domestics department where he has worked the past 10 years.  In Mr. Gibbs' personal time he plays music for his church, a passion he loves. But he’s best known for his impeccable attire. His mother always taught him to dress professionally, and that his interactions with people would be seen differently if he dressed to impress. Even on dress down days Mr. Gibbs can be seen wearing ornate suiting and shoes. Despite his love for fashion, he has never worked in the suiting department. “If I worked in suiting I wouldn’t have the love for it I do personally, it’s my signature,” said Mr. Gibbs.  When asked if having a union helped him stay in this job as long as he has, Mr. Gibbs said, “I would definitely not have been in this job this long without a union. Can you imagine the situation we would be in without the union?”  During the COVID-19 pandemic Macy’s shuttered stores across the country for several weeks. Because of the RWDSU, workers at unionized Macy’s stores had their health insurance protected throughout and a reopening plan in place to keep workers safe. More importantly, the union negotiated terms under which workers would be brought back to stores, even before they reopened to the public. It would be entirely voluntary, with no penalty for delaying returning, and with strict health and safety protections. When Mr. Gibbs got the call just a few weeks into the furlough to come in to process orders for online fulfillment, despite his seniority he jumped at the chance, in large part because he knew the union had implemented measures that would keep him safe. RWDSU Local 1-S held a celebration for Mr. Gibbs in the break area on the exact anniversary of his 50th year working at the store. In just a few hours, over 200 fellow union members came through to congratulate Mr. Gibbs on his anniversary, and to witness his three wardrobe changes. Dozens discussed who has the next longest tenure at the store, with many serving for over 30 and 40 years, but none topping Mr. Gibbs, who has no intention of slowing down. “I'm in good health and I want to continue to build my wardrobe and shoes, why slow down,” said Mr. Gibbs.  Several RWDSU Local 1-S officers and staff joined in the celebration. RWDSU Local 1-S President Angella Harding said “50 years and moving, Ms. Gibbs is a great Local 1-S Member, take a bow!”  Mr. Gibbs’s tenure will also be commemorated on a plaque in the store along with other long serving union members, which the public can see on display as they walk through. Mr. Gibbs’ message to young workers just starting out is to “be on-time for work, that’s the one thing the union can’t fix for you. Everything else, your shop steward is there!” 

Labor Day Message 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 RWDSU STATEMENT: LABOR DAY 2022 “The true strength of any union is defined by its values and convictions, and whether it sees itself less as an institution and more of a movement: A movement that isn’t afraid to stand up for decency and dignity and respect, a movement that fights  for racial and economic justice, a movement that never loses its sense of outrage at injustice around it. “At our core, we are a movement for justice, a movement to help lift up those who have been weakened by indifference and neglect, a movement that speaks out for those whose voices too often go unheard, a movement that provides strength for each and every worker, a movement that isn’t willing to accept exploitation as the price of living in a global economy, a movement that isn’t afraid to stand up for a country where dignity and respect and justice will prevail for all working people. “We are currently in a moment where young workers are fighting back and actively leading campaigns that are inspiring working people across the entire nation. Young workers who have lived through the pandemic are tired of being treated as dispensable by employers who are making billions of dollars off their backs. Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement and the movement for Black lives engaged millions of young people,  young people are now taking their activism to the workplace to demand a better life. “Union approval ratings are at their highest since the 1960s and we owe it to this new wave of organizing for shifting this narrative. We owe it to the Amazon workers in Bessemer Alabama who stood up to Jeff Bezos and shocked the nation. We owe it to the Amazon Labor Union who won their election in Staten Island, the Starbucks workers sweeping the country, REI workers from coast to coast, and every worker who in this moment embodies the phrase ‘enough is enough.’ We know that workers around the country are demanding more and think more positively of unions than they have in decades. It’s up to us in the labor movement to work together with newer generations to change our labor movement to be one that can grow through strong worker militancy, for many decades to come,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). WATCH: https://youtu.be/AejKZh87Ly8 ### 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.  

We Need Legislation to Help Keep Amazon Warehouse Workers Safe!

More people are shopping online, buying everything from toothpaste and tissues to desks and dining tables. As a result, warehouse facilities are popping up across New York at staggering numbers; Amazon alone has opened nearly 70 facilities in the state and over half of those facilities have been built since January 2021. At the same time, we have seen increased stress, pain, and resulting safety issues for warehouse workers, due to increased quotas and speeds. Take a few minutes to read and share our latest column on the issue below. It's also available in City & State magazine and community papers across New York: