Several former employees of Housing Works claim that the Downtown Brooklyn nonprofit fired them during the COVID-19 pandemic as retribution for their involvement in an ongoing unionization effort. The Housing Works organizing group, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, plans to file Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the federal National Labor Relations Board on Friday, alleging company leadership tried to rid four of their rank-and-file for being outspoken unionizers. read it here at Brooklyn Paper
NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced legislation to keep New York workers safe on the job during the covid-19 pandemic. The legislation, known as the NY HERO Act, requires businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Photos from today’s press conference are available here. The NY HERO Act, or the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, would mandate the Departments of Labor and Health to implement minimum standards for workplace safety, enforceable through significant fines. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Employers would be permitted to establish individual regulations for their businesses that exceed state requirements. Workers would also be given a direct role in monitoring and reporting violations through workplace health and safety committees that would be empowered to raise complaints and report violations. The bill would protect employees from retaliation for utilizing their rights under the law. The NY HERO Act is supported by more than 100 labor, community, and safety organizations. Continue reading
“Governor Kim Reynolds’ response to Hurricane Derecho is failing our members in Iowa. Hundreds of hard working men and women who manufacture food that has been critically needed during the COVID-19 pandemic – at iconic American food brands like Quaker Oats, General Mills, and Cole’s Quality Foods – are living in a war zone. It is outrageous that it took Governor Reynolds nearly a week to call in the National Guard when we know it will take weeks and months to recover. Too many Iowans are suffering and it is not acceptable that they are living without electricity, many are unable to go work, downed trees block roads for families to get badly needed essential supplies – it’s horrific,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The current issue puts the spotlight on the amazing work done by RWDSU heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the RWDSU is fighting for safer workplaces and treatment that recognizes how RWDSU members have kept America moving in the face of this historic public health crisis.
“The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is thrilled by the selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate. The Democratic Party has put together a dream ticket. And we will do everything we can to help elect Biden-Harris. “Throughout her career, Kamala Harris has been a strong supporter of the needs and aspirations of working people. She has stood with them and their unions consistently. “She will play an important role in undoing the damage caused by the Trump Administration’s failures. Kamala Harris will help revive America’s historic journey towards justice and equality for all. “We are proud to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the leaders America needs,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
Housing Works employees and the union seeking to represent them are expressing anger over the ongoing resistance of the non-profit’s out gay CEO, Charles King, a man who they say has drifted from his radical activism to become a union-busting boss. The rift comes as the agency is in its fifth month of contending with the coronavirus pandemic, a stretch that has witnessed significant staffing changes there. The union proponents’ latest beef is with King’s appeal to the Washington headquarters of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where employees believe their efforts are viewed less favorably by Donald Trump appointees than they are in the federal agency’s Brooklyn district office. The Housing Works organizing group, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), has spent months trying to advance their effort at unionizing, complaining of shoddy health insurance plans, high caseloads, a meager paid time-off policy, and more. RWDSU and some Housing Works employees say the battle represents an ironic twist at a non-profit that has spent decades preaching progressive causes while serving clients with HIV/ AIDS experiencing homelessness. Workers stormed off the job last October and held a rally at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, where folks heard testimonials from employees like Siobhán Fuller, a transgender woman who explained that her agency health insurance plan included a high deductible that forced her to shell out hundreds of dollars for necessary hormones as well as a $100 bill for every doctor appointment. Read the whole story at GCN
As more major U.S. retailers require their customers to wear masks, a growing number of store employees are being confronted by unruly and sometimes violent customers who refuse to comply. Now, the head of the largest union representing retail workers said businesses have unfairly burdened their employees with enforcing mask-wearing policies, to the detriment of workers and customers alike. Employers bear the responsibility to provide a safe workplace, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, who called for companies to hire security staffers to enforce a store’s mask policies or task members of management with the role. “Employees should not be expected to put their safety and their life on the line for the employer. That’s an unreasonable expectation,” Appelbaum told The Washington Post on Thursday. read more here
Nursing home workers at Genesis Abington Manor in Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania scored another win by joining RWDSU Local 262 in late July. The unit of 57 Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants won their NLRB election, and their union voice. They join hundreds of other Genesis workers who have joined the RWDSU in New Jersey and the Keystone State. The workers at Abington Manor began organizing after years of losing benefits, stagnant wages, and unaffordable health care coverage. LPN Kacey Walsh said “When I started the union campaign it was because I saw where the facility had weaknesses and how this was affecting the floor staff. The workers here do an amazing job together and truly love the residents, and it shows in the care they receive. In order to best serve the residents, we knew we needed a voice on the job, and the dignity and respect that comes with joining a union.” “The organizing committee of workers at Abington Manor truly did an amazing job,” said RWDSU Organizer Paul Bazemore. “They organized in a matter of weeks, during the difficult circumstances of the COIVD-19 pandemic. They deserve a strong contract, and that’s what they are going to get.”
RWDSU STATEMENT: ATLANTA’S MANDATE MASKS BE WORN IN PUBLIC IS CRITICAL TO PROTECTING WORKER’S LIVES (ATLANTA, GA) – The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is in full support of Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Executive Order 2020-113, which requires all persons to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth within the City of Atlanta. In response to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s announcement today banning Georgia's cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places, Edgar Fields, President of the Southeast Council of the RWDSU issued the following statement: “We unequivocally support Mayor Bottoms’ Executive Order 2020-113. This critical order requires everyone to wear a mask within the City of Atlanta, Georgia. We urge everyone, despite our Governor’s senseless attempts to stop this order, to wear a mask in all public settings. It is our only known, and only real defense against COVID-19 taking more lives of the ones we love. It's simple, wearing a mask saves lives. “We have suffered far too many losses across our union to COVID-19. The statistics show that people of color have a higher COVID-19 mortality rate. Our members have and will continue to die from COVID-19 unless we wear masks – period. In the early days of this virus it was unclear how we could best protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Now that we’re several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been clearer that wearing a mask is our greatest defense. Governor Kemp’s announcement today puts our members – the essential workers who have carried this nation through this crisis – lives on the line. It is disgusting, and we cannot and will not stand for it.” ###
Today, 14 United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions in New York, New Jersey and New England which collectively represent 70,000 Stop and Shop grocery workers across the United States, condemned the company’s slashing of workers wages during the COVID-19 pandemic. At midnight on Saturday, July 4, 2020, just ahead of a major profit-making holiday weekend, Stop and Shop formally ended essential pay for thousands of workers across the Northeast. The company walked away from negotiating with the 14 Local UFCW unions and unilaterally cut workers wages and ended the essential pay they need to continue to work under hazardous conditions amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. 14 Local UFCW unions condemned the company’s hypocritical behavior of one day “thanking” workers and the next cutting their pay at a time while the company continues to make significant profits. The company’s refusal to bargain with the unions highlighted their disregard for workers’ welfare. “It is inexcusable that a company that has made extraordinary profits during the COVID-19 crisis would think of ending the critical pay our members need. “Let us be clear, our members didn’t sign up to be frontline heroes in a health crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen, but they rose to the call and fed America. The essential pay they received during this crisis isn’t ‘appreciation’ as Stop and Shop suggests, but critical pay to ensure their families were safe amid the crisis we’re facing -- a crisis that is far from over. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues and our members also continue to practice regimented disinfection protocols just to go to work everyday and ensure their families are safe when they return. During the pandemic their jobs have fundamentally changed. They are more stressful and more physically demanding. The emotional and mental labor expended by our members hasn’t lifted, and their essential pay shouldn’t either. “To treat essential workers as disposable after what they’ve done to keep our dinner tables full, at a time with such grave uncertainty about our future and when the company continues to rack up large profits is disgraceful. Our unions cannot and will not stand for any company fleecing our members -- Stop and Shop needs to reinstate essential pay for our members now. “Stop and Shop’s decision to leave the table the very same day that New York rolled back the critical Phase 3 implementation of indoor dining shows just how hazardous and dangerous our members’ indoor work environment continues to be. Stop and Shop abjectly refused every possible solution presented by our collective unions, in violation of our members rights under our respective Collective Bargaining Agreements, and we will be filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board.” The above statement is jointly signed by 14 Local UFCW unions, which represent a combined 70,000 workers in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island: Frank Deriso, President UFCW Local 1 Brian String, President UFCW Local 152 Richard Abondolo, President UFCW Local 342 Tim Melia, President UFCW Local 328 John R. Durso, President Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW Salvatore Ferraino, President UFCW Local 360 Ronald Petronella, President UFCW Local 371 John R. Niccollai, President UFCW Local 464A Max Bruny, President UFCW Local 888 Mark A. Espinosa, President UFCW Local 919 Harvey Whillie, President UFCW Local 1262 Fernando Lemus, President UFCW Local 1445 Tyrone C. Housey, President UFCW Local 1459 Robert Newell, President UFCW Local 1500