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.
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!”
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.
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:
Big wage increases, benefits, and working condition improvements highlight the new contract for RWDSU members at SLS Car Wash in Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York. The new contract raises wages for car wash workers over $1.75 per hour, and brings important safety equipment such as an eye wash station and rubber boots and gloves. And, in a huge win, whenever the day shift washes 600 cars or more during their shift, management will add $400 cash to the tip box. The night shift will see an extra $200 in the tip box for washing over 300 cars. This is the only car wash in New York City with this benefit. Workers in other departments got additional gains; drivers will receive an extra $1.50 per hour, and mechanics will earn an extra $2.50 per hour. “With other car wash contracts coming up, the workers at SLS set a great example with their solidarity and determination. They won a great contract,” said RWDSU Representative and Negotiator Danie Tarrow.
Almost all of New York’s workers begin to get overtime pay after working 40 hours a week, yet farmworkers don't! 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:
Our union family always comes together in times of need: it's what solidarity is all about. If you can, extend some of your solidarity to RWDSU members affected by last week's eastern Kentucky flooding by donating to our Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. Donations can be sent to: "RWDSU Kentucky Flood Relief Fund" c/o RWDSU 370 Seventh Ave New York, NY 10001
Monday, July 25, 2022 - Delegates, Alternates, and Guests Arrive in Atlanta! RWDSU members came from around the country and across the globe; hundreds of delegates, alternates, and guests arrived here in Atlanta, Georgia to join together for the 24th RWDSU Quadrennial Convention. As attendees registered yesterday and gathered in the days leading up to the convention – it was an exciting time; the first opportunity many of us have had since early 2020 to join together in person as a union. The RWDSU Convention, which begins this morning at 9 am, is the only time every four years when we come together, review the progress we’ve made and the challenges we’ve faced, and set the course of our union for the future. On Monday, as attendees registered for the convention, dozens of RWDSU volunteers helped assemble delegate bags, including materials such as health and safety materials, the political update, the RWDSU Constitution, and the red RWDSU painter’s cap. Be sure to bring your red hat to Thursday’s sessions, so you can proudly show off your RWDSU colors in the panoramic convention group photo. READ THE DAILY CONVENTION REPORT HERE. Tuesday, July 26, 2022 - Convention Day One Focused on Our Challenges, Achievements, and Goals The first day of the RWDSU Convention showcased words, action, and music of inspiration, as the union looked back at the unprecedented challenges of the past four years, the union’s accomplishments in fighting for working people and helping to ignite a reinvigorated national labor movement, and the path forward as the RWDSU continues to lead the charge toward a new wave of activism. Opening with a rousing set by social activist singers the Fruit of Labor from North Carolina, a welcome by Atlanta Mayor André Dickens, and the RWDSU Convention video, the hundreds of delegates, alternates, and guests in the convention hall were fired up, ready for action, and ready to organize to make our union stronger. READ THE DAILY CONVENTION REPORT HERE. CONVENTION VIDEOS: DAY ONE RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Union Strong RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Amazon Wednesday, July 27, 2022 - RWDSU Leadership Overwhelmingly Re-Elected RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, Secretary-Treasurer Robert Layng, Jr., and Recorder Joseph Dorismond were elected yesterday morning to serve new four-year terms as the leadership team for the union. The Nominations and Election Committee, headed by retiring RWDSU Regional Director Rick Marshall, conducted the nominations and vote during the election, which resulted in a vote for President Appelbaum and Secretary-Treasurer Layng. Recorder Dorismond was appointed by acclimation. The newly elected officers thanked the delegates for their confidence and support, and pledged to continue working to build a stronger RWDSU. READ THE DAILY CONVENTION REPORT HERE. CONVENTION VIDEOS: DAY TWO RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Organizing Thursday, July 28, 2022 - Strength In Our Solidarity RWDSU delegates, alternates, and guests discussed and were joined by many speakers who addressed the issues of collective bargaining, political action, and global solidarity. New York Attorney General Tish James opened up the third day of our convention with an electrifying address. A video recorded by Kamala Harris addressing the RWDSU convention also played, and we were joined by many UFCW leaders to discuss the connection between our two unions. Finally, we donned our red RWDSU caps and took the convention group photo! READ THE DAILY CONVENTION REPORT HERE. CONVENTION VIDEOS: DAY THREE Vice President Harris Addresses the RWDSU Convention RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Collective Bargaining RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Political Action Friday, July 29, 2022 - Looking to the Future of Our Union And with that, the RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention has adjourned! What an exciting four days that have inspired our entire union family and made us hopeful for the future of our union. Today, we focused on our union’s response to COVID-19 and health and safety work, honoring all the members we’ve lost over the past four years, many of them to COVID-19. We heard an inspiring speech from AFL CIO President Liz Shuler, who also swore in the newly elected Executive Board and Advisory Council. We also received an emotional speech from a treasured member of our union family – Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Jack Wurm, who’s been a member for over 50 years, and were electrified by Georgians Linqua Franca and Rev. Raphael Warnock. CONVENTION VIDEOS: DAY FOUR RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: COVID-19 RWDSU 24th Quadrennial Convention: Social Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 8, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 RWDSU Statement on Amazon's Withdrawal from Newark Air Hub "We welcome any company, including Amazon, that is willing to treat its workers and the surrounding community with dignity and respect, said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Amazon, however, abandoned Newark because it refused to be a good neighbor and a good employer. Like an impetuous child, it walked away rather than comply with responsible community standards. Turnover at amazon facilities in New Jersey is almost twice as high as non-Amazon warehouses in the state. Worker injuries are nearly twice as high as well. Most workers aren’t there long enough, or don’t receive enough hours to receive the benefits that Amazon touts. They treat their workers like robots and drive dangerous and unsustainable production quotas. Until Amazon changes its anti-worker and anti-community practices, we will continue this fight wherever Amazon tries to build." # # # 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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 RWDSU STATEMENT ON SCOTUS DOBBS v. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION DECISION “This is a sad day for America. And it is a wakeup call that every one of our freedoms is at risk. We cannot delude ourselves into believing that something can’t happen here – because it is happening right now, and it happened today. Each of us needs to stand up and join together collectively to protect our freedoms,” 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.