Workers bear the brunt of Amazon Prime Day, Labor union rep argues

Yahoo! Finance Adam Obernauer, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Director of the Retail Organizing Project joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel with the latest on Amazon unionization efforts. Of course, on the flip side of this coin is the actual workers who are working to make these orders possible to make Prime Day possible. As many of us look forward to the event, worth focusing in a bit more on the worker issues tied to Amazon and now Prime Day, as orders pick up, given the fact that it has been a few weeks since that failed union vote in Bessemer, Alabama. A lot of things still not solved when it comes to the issues workers raised around Amazon's employment. And for more on that, I want to bring on Adam Obernauer, Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union Director of the Retail Organizing Project. And Adam, I mean, your guys' union have been at the forefront of kind of this union battle around the issues at Amazon. Talk to me about maybe how much has still gone unsolved or maybe if any of the efforts in kind of added efforts on Amazon's side to kind of bring attention to these issues, has anything changed?

AMAZON PRIME DAY STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2020  Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (NEW YORK, NY) – Ahead of Amazon’s Prime Day event, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement:  “Even as many shoppers may look forward to Amazon’s Prime Day each summer, Amazon’s workers have good reason to dread it. “Amazon has been called out all over the world for its unacceptable health and safety record and its working conditions for its employees. And Prime Day only makes everything much worse for these workers. “During Prime Day, workers across the world are forced to work mandatory overtime, oftentimes in extreme temperature conditions, and at an often unattainable pace that results in injuries. “Amazon needs to start paying attention to the health and safety needs of its employees. It needs to reduce the unbearable pace of work which has resulted in countless documented physical and mental injuries – a pace of work that is only exacerbated by Prime Day.  “Amazon continues to fail to understand that its human employees are people and not robots.  “Critically, Amazon needs to start listening to the concerns of its workers, instead of trying to crush their efforts to have a collective voice about their own health and safety through a union. Amazon must stop its virulent union busting and allow its workers to organize, without employer interference, so that they can address worker protections not just for Prime Day, but every day.   “Amazon needs to start addressing its workers’ needs and ensuring its workers are safe every day, and especially during Prime Day events.” # # # 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.

Amazon, an employment heavyweight, avoids paying workers for long waits and walks

CNET A random security check put Jennifer Bates over the edge in Bessemer, Alabama, the warehouse worker told The New York Times. After she learned she wouldn't get a longer rest period for the screening she underwent while trying to leave the warehouse on a break, she joined an effort to unionize the warehouse. The union election failed. The result of the election, which the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is seeking to have thrown out, means Amazon employees are left to argue with their managers about policies or take Amazon to court over them. The National Labor Relations Board found Amazon has retaliated against employees who organize strikes and walkouts, which are also options. During oral arguments for the Busk case, Chief Justice John Roberts asked why employees can't take their complaints over security screenings to the bargaining table. Maybe they could ask for a higher wage if they aren't going to be compensated for the screenings, he said. There is no bargaining table, replied Mark Thierman, the workers' attorney. "These are all non-union employees."

Labor Advocates Rebuke Amazon for Latest 'Smoke and Mirrors' on Worker Safety

Common Dreams Labor advocates on Thursday responded with disdain and derision to news that Amazon and the National Safety Council are partnering to find "innovative solutions" to prevent the workplace injuries that disproportionately plague the retail giant's warehouse employees. "The root cause of this issue is Amazon's business model of expecting workers to perform like robots at an unbearable and often unattainable pace of work." —Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said in a statement that, "After spending years pushing warehouse workers to work beyond their physical limits, Amazon's announcement today appears to be just another public relations stunt. Instead, Amazon can and must be doing more to protect its workers." "This partnership will be meaningless unless Amazon acknowledges and is transparent about workers' injuries and illness due to ergonomic issues at their facilities—something they have consistently failed to do," he added. "The root cause of this issue is Amazon's business model of expecting workers to perform like robots at an unbearable and often unattainable pace of work."

NLRB: Offers to collect mail ballots could invalidate union elections

Reuters The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ruled that unions and employers engage in "objectionable conduct" that could warrant setting aside a union election when they offer to collect and mail ballots on behalf of workers. The four-member board, which has one vacancy, unanimously ruled that solicitation of mail ballots can give the impression that the NLRB is not in complete control of elections, thereby undermining their integrity. But the board rejected claims by Professional Transportation Inc (PTI), which provides crew transportation services to railroads, that union officials tainted a 2020 election by allegedly offering to help two workers fill out and mail their ballots. The ruling could affect a closely watched NLRB case involving a recent union election at an Amazon.com Inc warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, in which workers overwhelmingly voted against unionizing. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union claims Amazon violated federal labor law by installing a mailbox at the facility, which the company says was meant to make it easier for workers to vote.

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU PRESIDENT STUART APPELBAUM ON AMAZON PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2020 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Amazon and the National Safety Council announced a partnership to research workplace injuries. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), issued the following statement: “After spending years pushing warehouse workers to work beyond their physical limits, Amazon’s announcement today appears to be just another public relations stunt. Instead, Amazon can and must be doing more to protect its workers.    “This partnership will be meaningless unless Amazon acknowledges and is transparent about workers’ injuries and illness due to ergonomic issues at their facilities – something they have consistently failed to do.  “Day after day Amazon fails to report workplace injuries; and it refuses to allow workers time off when they’re injured or sick.  Instead, we have seen far too many ambulances needed at Amazon warehouses. Workers have been pushed to such extreme limits that they are injured for life, and in some cases workers have even lost their lives working at Amazon. Workers should never have to worry whether they are risking their own health and safety just by reporting to work each day.  “The root cause of this issue is Amazon’s business model of expecting workers to perform like robots at an unbearable and often unattainable pace of work. “Workers need real protection and not just more smoke and mirrors.” # # # 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.

Retailers fear abuse of workers will get worse as COVID slows

The Associated Press/Nexstar News Wire A dozen retailers including Gap and H&M are collaborating on a campaign this fall to enlist customers to combat bad behavior against retail workers. The campaign, spearheaded by nonprofits Open to All and Hollaback as well as the Retail Industry Leaders Association, comes as workers face increased harassment as they try to enforce social distancing and mask protocols during the pandemic. Among those who have been the targets of abuse are people of color, those with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ. Calla Devlin Rongerude, director of Open to All, said the campaign is not asking customers to step in to physically stop altercations, but rather to help de-escalate the situation and show support for workers. Participating retailers will have signage in their stores with QR codes, allowing customers to sign a pledge of support. There will also be a tool kit designed by Hollaback to show how customers can help, including how to create a distraction for the abuser as well as documenting the situation and bringing in someone else to help. Even as the spread of COVID-19 slows, retailers fear abusive behavior will worsen as stores anticipate big crowds for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. With many states and businesses relaxing mask mandates and customers experiencing pandemic fatigue, workers worry about their safety. “There is a lot of ambiguity,” Rongerude said. “People have a lot of fatigue. That is when tempers flare.”

RWDSU ENDORSES MARK MURPHY FOR STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2021 CONTACT: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (STATEN ISLAND, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced its endorsement of Mark Murphy for Staten Island Borough President. "The RWDSU is proud to endorse Mark Murphy for Staten Island Borough President because we know he'll be a strong and reliable voice for working people. Mark believes that when our city invests in jobs that they should be good, union jobs. This is the leadership we want to see from our elected representatives, and it is the reason why the RWDSU will be working hard to ensure Mark Murphy is Staten Island's next Borough President,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).  “The 60,000 essential workers of the RWDSU are the unsung heroes of the past year.  We are forever in their debt for their service during the pandemic and we must repay their bravery with hazard pay. I pledge to use the power and the bully pulpit of the Borough President to protect the right of workers to organize and make sure Staten Islanders have more good paying union jobs that have protections and pensions for workers,” said Mark Murphy, Candidate for Staten Island Borough President. # # # 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.

RWDSU ENDORSES COREY JOHNSON FOR NYC COMPTROLLER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2021 CONTACT: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced its endorsement of Corey Johnson for New York City Comptroller. The RWDSU has proudly worked side-by-side with Johnson for many years on New York City's most significant legislative issues, contract fights and organizing campaigns. Today’s endorsement is based on years of work together that has improved the lives of countless New Yorkers. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement on the union’s endorsement:  “The RWDSU has proudly worked side-by-side with Corey Johnson for many years. The RWDSU has worked closely with him on many of New York City's most significant legislative and organizing campaigns. He stood with us to protect union jobs by opposing Walmart from entering NYC. He strongly supported living wage laws and on-call scheduling protections for retail workers. He has rallied with Macy's and Bloomingdale's workers seeking fair contracts. More recently, he went toe-to-toe with Amazon and made it clear that companies that receive taxpayer dollars should let their workers organize a union. He also stood in solidarity with 700 Housing Works workers who successfully organized a union with the RWDSU in 2020. The RWDSU stands with Corey Johnson and endorses him for NYC Comptroller because time after time he has stood with our members. We know that we can rely on him to support unions and workers as NYC's next Comptroller.” The RWDSU is committed to supporting candidates in 2021 who will stand up for workers, support good union jobs and represent it’s 45,000 members in the city.  # # # 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.

Rideshare Drivers Gather in NYC in Hopes of Unionizing

Protesters gathered in bright red t-shirts and matching masks bearing the Independent Drivers Guild logo. Placards bearing slogans like “Freeze Hiring, Reactive Workers Now!” and “Unlock Uber” were being handed out at a table toward the entrance. What the gathering lacked in sheer numbers, it made up with enthusiasm. A wide range of speakers approached the podium — IDG members, drivers, local and prospective politicians. Nearly every speech was followed by a spirited call and response from the crowd, culminating in pro-union chants. Previous protests have found drivers opting for other locations — perhaps most notably in 2019, when Brooklyn Bridge traffic toward the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion was slowed to a crawl. Today’s location was perfectly suited for such an event. The gathering was framed by the Falchi Building, a large office space in Queens, New York, housing some 36,000 square feet of Uber offices. The neighborhood of Long Island City has long served as an epicenter for the city’s ridesharing operations. Lyft has offices nearby, as does the Taxi Limousine Commission (TLC). Walk down a block or two and you’ll almost certainly stumble across rows upon rows of yellow cabs. The concerns of gig workers are nothing new, of course, but today’s crowd gathered in Long Island City, Queens to add support to a proposed bill currently making its way through the state legislature in Albany. The legislation is designed to make it easy for gig economy workers in the state to unionize. “Currently, the gig workers have no voice in their workplace. No voice to negotiate pay or benefits of workplace policies,” bill sponsor state Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island explained in a recent interview. “And I have been talking about this issue for several years now. The world of work is changing, and labor law has not caught up to technology and how it has changed the world of work.” read more here