LOCAL 338 CANNABIS WORKERS AT VIREO HEALTH NEW YORK RATIFY NEW 3-YEAR CONTRACT

Workers Win Significant Wage Increases and Additional Time Off Today, Local 338 Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU)/United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), announced that the workers at Vireo Health New York have ratified a new 3-year contract. The new contract significantly builds on benefits that were included in the first contract, which was negotiated in 2016. The workers in the bargaining unit work across New York State at the cultivation and processing center, as well as four retail dispensaries. “I am proud to have served on the negotiating committee and have the opportunity to voice the issues that were most important to my co-workers and I. Working with our union, we won many important improvements to our wages and benefits that show that we’ve not only been heard, but that we’re also valued. Knowing that we go to work every day with the protections of a strong union contract is empowering and that helps us provide the best care for our patients,” said Kassan Seisay, Local 338 member working at Vireo Health New York.  “With strong starting salaries for new hires, wage increases for current workers and increased paid time off, the new contract at Vireo Health New York sets a standard for what workers in New York’s medical cannabis industry need and deserve. Our members are dedicated to the patients they serve and provide significant service to the company they work for. Many of them were also active participants in the negotiating process and when workers come together, they can secure strong contracts that ensure fair treatment and respect on the job – which they have successfully done at Vireo,” said Joseph Fontano, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. The Vireo Health New York contract was ratified by the members after months of negotiations and is retroactive to August of 2019.   The Vireo Health New York contract will be in effect for three years and includes critical provisions such as: Annual wage increases over the term of the contract (workers will receive retroactive increases from the expiration of the contract in August 2019.) The hourly rate of pay for members will increase an average of 16% to 25% (based on the members job classification and years of service) over the term of the 3-year agreement.   The union also secured language in the contract that increases the minimum starting rate for new hires. Workers will receive additional paid time off, as well as increased holiday pay. The company will continue to provide workers and their dependents with full medical coverage through the Union’s medical fund at no cost to the workers. through the term of the contract. Vireo Health New York workers are members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW proudly represents more than 13,000 working men and women employed at supermarkets, grocery stores, specialty food stores, assisted living facilities, retail drug stores and pharmacies, and medical cannabis companies across New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York. 

RWDSU Celebrates the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (right) reviews an RWDSU contract with RWDSU Local 3 members employed at Bloomingdale's in New York City in the 1960s. This week, Americans everywhere salute the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Dr. King's legacy has special meaning. We take special pride that, in 1968, the RWDSU was the first union anywhere to negotiate a contract guaranteeing Dr. King's birthday as a paid holiday. The RWDSU was among the earliest supporters of Dr. King's grassroots drive to challenge racial injustice in the South.   In Chicago during the 1960s, RWDSU provided an important forum for Dr. King to speak out against poverty in America's cities.  Later, thousands of RWDSU members stood shoulder to shoulder with other Civil Rights Activists during the historic 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King saw the Civil Rights struggle and the labor movement as closely linked.  He was a constant ally of Union Activists and most have forgotten that Dr. King was in Tennessee to support a Living Wage for Sanitation Strikers on that terrible April day in 1968 when he was slain at the age of 39. Dr. King spoke about the importance of the Labor Movement on many occasions. "Our needs are identical with Labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, and health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. That is why negroes support Labor's demands and fight laws which curb Labor. That is why the Labor-hater and the Labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth," Dr. King said in a speech in 1961. In reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King, the RWDSU recognizes the fight he began is not over until equality for all is a reality, and it is up to our generation of RWDSU members to complete his mission.  

As business and labor leaders, we agree on this: The U.S. needs to stay in the Paris Agreement

By Stuart Appelbaum and Andrew Liveris As the chairman emeritus and former CEO of Dow Chemical, and the vice president and co-chair of the international committee of one of the most powerful union confederations in the U.S., we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to a vision for how we achieve U.S. economic growth. But we do when it comes to addressing a critical challenge for American workers and businesses: climate change.  We also critically agree that the Paris Agreement provides the U.S. the best, albeit not perfect, framework for addressing the growing climate crisis. This framework allows freedom to pursue a competitive path toward emissions reductions—one that creates American jobs, stabilizes trade, and has a commitment to a just transition at its core. The Paris accord will help ensure American competitiveness and long-term opportunities for our working families into the future. Research from the New Climate Economy has shown that transitioning to a low-carbon future by 2030 holds a $26 trillion economic prize globally. Reaching that requires policies, aligned with the agreement’s framework, that allow companies to set and deliver on ambitious climate targets. read the entire piece at Fortune

RWDSU STATEMENT: NY TIP CREDIT ANNOUNCEMENT

“Car wash workers for years have struggled in New York to survive on sub-minimum wages. We applaud the Governor for taking today’s action. It will go a long way to remove one of the sources of wage theft that have been endemic in that industry,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). 

RWDSU MEMBERS OVERWHELMINGLY RATIFY STRONG NEW CONTRACT FOR WORKERS AT COCA-COLA NORTHEAST JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Union Contract Securing 5-Weeks of Vacation for Senior Members Ratified Overwhelmingly by Workers (NEEDHAM, MA) – Today, Local 513 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that nearly 400 workers at the Coca-Cola Northeast facility in Needham, MA have ratified a strong new union contract. The worker led negotiation committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong contract that guarantees annual wage increase, secures the union health plan, and adds additional vacation time for senior workers, among many other provisions. The workers in the bargaining unit handle production of Coca-Cola vending machines as well as product delivery services.  Continue reading

WORKERS AT McNALLY JACKSON BOOKSTORES AND GOODS FOR THE STUDY STATIONERY STORES VOTE TO JOIN RWDSU

Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced that the workers at McNally Jackson Bookstores have voted to join the union. Now workers will head to the bargaining table to secure fair treatment in the workplace, and fair compensation first union contract. “We’re proud to welcome the workers of McNally Jackson into our union. Tonight, they showed that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “I’m proud to say I’m now part of the RWDSU. Workers across all five stores face issues of harassment at work, favoritism, and lack of dignity and respect. By coming together, we are stronger, and I am confident we can shape our workplace into a place we all want to come to work each day. It’s about time McNally Jackson workers had a real seat at the table with the company and we’re ready to get to work on our first contract,” said Kathryn Harper, McNally Jackson Williamsburg Bookstore worker. The vote to unionize by workers at McNally Jackson was conducted on December 12, 2019. RWDSU will represent approximately 90 workers at McNally Jackson’s five New York City locations including three bookstores and two Goods For The Study stationery stores in contract negotiations. The workers in the bargaining unit handle sales, events, stocking and information services in the stores. More news about contract negotiations will be shared when available. Worker’s Workplace Issues Include: We need to be properly compensated for our input and dedication to McNally Jackson: We need better wages. The Tipped Minimum Wage is not enough for barista workers and fluctuating take-home pay leads to financial stress. Workers sometimes have their pay cut if moved into a different position with no notice. We should be paid in a timely manner. We should be paid overtime pay for overtime work as per New York State Law. We need better structures in our workplace: Too often things are done informally, and roles are not always clearly defined. Clearer guidelines about things like how we access our benefits, transfer between stores, etc. are needed. Favoritism is a problem at our workplace: We need more defined positions at work. There should be standard pay scales for certain positions at our store.

WORKERS AT COCA-COLA NORTHEAST REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON NEW UNION CONTRACT

Nearly 400 workers in Needham, Massachusetts Set to Ratify New Contract Just in Time for the Holidays (NEEDHAM, MA) – Today, Local 513 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that nearly 400 workers at the Coca-Cola Northeast facility in Needham, MA have reached a tentative contract agreement with the company. The worker-led negotiation committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong tentative agreement that guarantees annual wage increases among many other critical provisions. The committee will strongly recommend workers vote in favor of this agreement. The contract could be ratified just before Christmas Eve. The workers in the bargaining unit handle production of Coca-Cola vending machines as well as product delivery services. Needham, MA Coca-Cola Northeast workers are members of Local 513 of the RWDSU, which also represents workers across the region at other Coca-Cola and Pepsi facilities as well as at Canteen Vending Co., which supplies and delivers both snacks and beverages. This announcement comes on the heels of a strong contract secured by these members at Pepsi earlier this year. The RWDSU has continuously secured strong contracts across the country in food processing and distribution among many other industries. Today’s tentative agreement is another win by members of the RWDSU. The ratification vote of the Coca-Cola Northeast contract is scheduled for Sunday, December 22, 2019. News on the ratification vote and more details on the contract will be shared on Monday, December 23, 2019. The negotiations committee expects it will be overwhelmingly ratified. If ratified, the Coca-Cola Northeast contract will be in effect for four years and includes critical provisions such as: Annual general hourly wage increases over the term of the contract. Additional vacation time for senior members, and early retirement options. There were numerous improvements to the contract language, which will help workers on the job and with work-life balance. “I have worked shoulder to shoulder with many members who will be covered under this new contract, not just in the negotiations room, but on the floor of this very Coca-Cola Northeast facility. I know firsthand how much a strong contract helps the hard-working families in our community and I am proud of the work we did here. Coca-Cola treats its workers with dignity and respect in Massachusetts. They have shown that being a responsible employer here makes a real difference,” said Tina Buonaugurio, Executive Vice President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and President of the New England Joint Board of the RWDSU. “When you can come home to your family knowing that you have a steady job, with a strong union contract it makes your life stable. I worked at this facility for 29 years and I know the feeling of having a new contract. What makes this tentative agreement even better is that workers will go into the holiday season knowing they have a strong union contract, and that will make their holidays that much merrier,” said Phil D’Arcangelo, Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Joint Board of the RWDSU.

Cyber Monday Backlash: RWDSU President In Brussels To Help Put Anti-Worker Amazon In Check

New York, NY – While Amazon watched “Cyber Monday” 2019 become the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history — an international gathering of unions, policy makers, activists and academics met in Brussels for an inaugural symposium aimed at confronting Amazon’s rapacious worldwide business model.  “Amazon is one of the defining issues of our time and the future world of work,” Stuart Appelbaum, head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union [RWDSU] said in a statement. “This is why it’s so critical that we come together at this symposium to fully understand the options available to stop the devastating impact Amazon is having on our global workforce and economy. Amazon has a well-documented history of mistreating and dehumanizing its workers around the world. Amazon needs to understand that human beings are not robots – Amazon needs to change.” Amazon made headlines this past year, here in New York City after Metropolitan Area workers went public with reports of hazardous working conditions inside Amazon’s existing warehouse facility on Staten Island. A number of those whistleblowers lost their jobs as a result. This week’s symposium in Brussels consisted of five panels looking at Amazon’s record on labour rights and paying taxes, it’s monopoly power, privacy and digital rights and Amazon’s response to the climate crisis.  “This symposium is a necessary step towards joining stakeholders’ power across issues and across continents to make the company fulfill its social responsibilities,” UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman said in a statement. “Today, we moved closer to a common understanding about the effect of Amazon’s power and also about the dangers of allowing one of the world’s largest corporations—led by the world’s richest man—to call the shots that determine our future.” read the rest at Laborpress

Unions, regulators, civil society organizations to hold first-ever symposium on Amazon’s global impact on economies and society

The meeting, to be held on Cyber Monday, is a critical step to reign in Amazon’s unparalleled power over modern life   BRUSSELS—The unchecked power of Amazon will be put in the spotlight at a symposium hosted by international trade unions, UNI Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), in Brussels on Monday 2 December 2019. For the first time unions, policy makers, activists from the USA and Europe are gathering to consider appropriate regulations and other checks on global corporate power in an era of technological dominance. “Amazon has refused to meaningfully engage with stakeholders around data, climate, taxes and workers’ rights. The company values control over cooperation and dominance over democracy. Its tentacles reach across economic sectors and national boundaries, and the only way we can hold Amazon accountable is through increased cooperation in challenging its consolidation of power,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary UNI Global Union. “Amazon’s refusal to respect its obligations to society must be remedied, and this symposium is a necessary step towards joining stakeholders’ power across issues and across continents to make the company recognize its responsibilities,” said Ms Hoffman. Keynote speakers include Werner Stengg, Head of Unit E-commerce and Platforms DG Connect and who is expected to soon join the Cabinet of Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, and Maya Bacache, Board Member of the French Regulatory Authority for Communications (ARCEP). Five panels will discuss Amazon’s record on labour rights and paying taxes, it’s monopoly power, privacy and digital rights and Amazon’s response to the climate crisis. MEPs Evelyn Regner and Iban Garcia del Blanco will participate along with Peter Eberl, Deputy Head of Unit for Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy Policy, European Commission, BEUC representative, Ursula Pachl, trade unions and NGOs. Additionally, from the United states, Stacy Mitchell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Abdi Muse, Executive Director of the Awood Center in Minneapolis, and Stuart Appelbaum, Chair of the Amazon Global Alliance. “Amazon is one of the defining issues of our time and the future world of work. This is why it’s so critical that we come together at this symposium to fully understand the options available to stop the devastating impact Amazon is having on our global workforce and economy. Amazon has a well-documented history of mistreating and dehumanizing its workers around the world. Amazon needs to understand that human beings are not robots – Amazon needs to change,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Amazon’s business model is threatening our rights, our economies and our democracies. Monopoly power can never be acceptable. It is a fundamental threat to democracy—especially when that business is based on controlling and mining our data. No company must be too big to touch, all companies must be subject to mandated due diligence on human and labour rights with grievance procedures for remedy inclusive of their supply chains. It’s time to break up Amazon,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC While politicians in the United States are confronting these issues in the run up to the 2020 election, unions are calling on political leaders in Europe to live up to the EU’s commitment to a renewed social contract by: Breaking up Amazon with the reform of competition policy; Regulating for a labour protection floor for all workers as agreed in the ILO Centenary Declaration; Ensuring corporate tax is paid where it’s earned; Protecting individual and national data privacy to ensure consent, compensation, and accountability from the company’s extraction of our information. “Fair competition, privacy, taxation, human and labour rights with freedom of association and collective bargaining are not outdated principles and standards. Amazon must be broken up and forced to respect the social contract as a basis for doing business,” said Ms Burrow.

MOUNTAIN VIEW WORKERS STRIKE, WALK PICKET LINE TO CALL ATTENTION TO MANAGEMENT REFUSAL TO ENSURE QUALITY CARE FOR PATIENTS

After Contract Talks Collapse Due to Management’s Refusal to Negotiate a Fair Contract, Striking Workers Demand They Return to the Negotiating Table Members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) who work at Mountain View nursing home are on strike and will be walking the picket line in front of the facility over the course of the weekend. Workers, who joined the RWDSU last year, are fighting for key contract provisions so they can provide the best possible care for patients and support themselves and their families. Workers are seeking to maintain needed paid time off and good healthcare benefits, as well as adequate staffing levels and fair scheduling practices. Currently, they are being forced to choose between compromising their own wellbeing or their patients’ wellbeing. Workers on the picket line are sending a clear message that patient care is their number one priority, while demanding that management come back to the negotiating table and negotiate in good faith with the workers who are the face of their facility and provide compassionate, professional care for community’s seniors.