New Saks Contract Has National Impact

In September, members of RWDSU Local 1102 at Saks 5th Avenue’s iconic flagship store in Manhattan ratified a contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract, which was settled shortly before the deadline, repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. The union’s hard-fought victory is not only a win for the approximately 100 Local 1102 members in Saks’ women’s shoe department, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that, because of Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously-planned nationwide implementation.     Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.   “I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, sales representative and Local 1102 Shop Steward and Executive Board Member. “In all my years at Saks never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”    “I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine-member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, President of Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that, because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, that they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”

RWDSU Marches with Spectrum Workers

On Monday, the RWDSU joined thousands of workers and activists in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and a rally in Foley Square to support striking Spectrum IBEW members and demand that the communications company negotiate a fair contract with its employees. Spectrum—whose CEO made almost $100 million in 2016—is proposing drastic health care cuts for unionized workers and their families and wants to eliminate pensions and job security. The company also refuses to amend its discipline policy that punishes workers for making multiple visits to a household, when most technical problems are a result of aging equipment. Buildings aren’t properly wired, equipment is old and outdated and workers are forced to take the blame for cable speeds that often fall so short of advertised performance that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of defrauding consumers.

Union Plus Offers Help for Members Affected by Irma

If you are a union member who participates in certain Union Plus programs and have been affected by Hurricane Irma, you may be eligible for financial assistance through the Union Plus Disaster Relief Grant program. Union Plus Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to eligible participants of one of the following programs: •     Union Plus Credit Card Program2 •     Union Plus Life Insurance •     Accidental Death Insurance •     Union Plus Auto Insurance or •     Union Plus Mortgage Program   Click here for more information

RWDSU Members Come Out to Support NYC Candidates

RWDSU members in New York City worked tirelessly yesterday, September 12, in support of Eric Gonzalez for District Attorney and for candidates in key City Council Races. RWDSU-backed candidates won in all 40 races that have been called so far. President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) highlighted the work of members across New York City in support of Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn who won his campaign for District Attorney tonight as well as in critical City Council Races across the City. RWDSU members door knocked, phone banked and did visibility for the union’s endorsed candidates over the summer and on Primary Day to ensure candidates who would advocate for union values through their offices won tonight.   “I am proud of the work our members did to put the strength of the RWDSU behind so many candidates that will fight to ensure that workers are heard in local government,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Eric Gonzalez knows the plight of low-wage workers and has diligently fought to recover stolen wages across Brooklyn in the District Attorney’s Office – we know his win tonight is a win for working people. Carlina Rivera, Keith Powers, Francisco Moya, and Justin Brennan know what hard working families need in New York City to live and work here – and we know they will work closely to ensure that laws that impact working New Yorkers will protect our city's working woman and men. Congratulations to all the candidates and winners and we look forward to working together on issues that affect our members and low income New Yorkers.”

NY Governor Announces Forthcoming Scheduling Hearings

On September 9, before the Labor Day Parade, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the Commissioner of Labor to schedule public hearings on employee scheduling concerns. The New York State Department of Labor will hold these hearings to solicit public comment on how best to address what's known as "just-in-time," "call-in" or "on-call" scheduling, common practices that allow employers to schedule or cancel workers' shifts just hours before or even after it starts.    The RWDSU has been a leading voice against on-call scheduling and the devastating effect it has on the lives of workers.   Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said, "On-call scheduling is devastating for retail workers. You need to put your life on hold and be available for work - regardless of whether you will be called-in or paid. If you are a part-time worker, the uncertainty of your schedule means you can't arrange for a needed second job. If you are a parent, you don't know if you are going to need child care. If you want to continue your schooling, you can't sign up for classes without knowing your availability. Today's action by Governor Cuomo will help to create another layer of protections for workers and ensure that workers will gain more control over their own lives and their ability to earn a living."   Before regulations are formally advanced, the New York State Department of Labor will solicit input from workers and industry professionals on how best to ensure that workers can better predict their schedules and are compensated when subjected to just in-time/on-call scheduling practices.  

RWDSU President Appelbaum Speaks in Support of DREAMers

On September 6, at the New York City rally in support of the DREAMers and as a response to the announcement by Donald Trump that he will repeal DACA, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU  delivered remarks to a crowd of labor members, activists, and advocacy groups, sending a message to Trump and Congress that New York City will protect the rights of hard working New Yorkers and will fight back and protect immigrants across the country. “We are outraged by the actions of Donald Trump today. My union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union, is a union of immigrants and we stand with you – and the entire labor movement stands with you. Ending DACA is a despicable and cowardly act of a cowardly politician seeking to curry the favor of the white nationalists who elected him. It is repugnant and it stands in direct opposition to our values as Americans. We are a nation of immigrants – of people who struggled to come to a land that was founded on freedom. And the American people know immigrants are the foundation of our communities – a foundation that cannot be paved over. The majority of Americans support DACA – they get how this program represents the best of America – and more importantly Americans understand that it is morally indefensible to deport children. From day one, Trump has let TPS Visas lapse day after day, he’s announced some of the most reprehensible immigration bans the world has ever seen and today he is seeking to remove nearly 1 million children from our country – children that have committed no crime, and who have known no other home. The values Trump’s actions have represented from day one are not American values. And when our leaders don’t embody our values – it’s time for new leaders! We need to continue standing up and fighting back. We can win back our country together. But it’s going to take courage and energy and fight – things Trump’s actions today gravely lack. So stand up, Fight back,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

RWDSU Marches for Dreamers

RWDSU members joined thousands of other New Yorkers outside of Trump Hotel on New York City’s Central Park to rally and march to Trump Tower on fifth Avenue to support DACA. DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - allows undocumented immigrants who come to the United States as children, also known as Dreamers, temporary work permits and protects them from deportation if they submit biometric data to the government, pass a background check and maintain a clean record. The program has provided temporary status and work permits to roughly 800,000 immigrants since its inception in 2012. In New York state, 42,000 people have benefited, according to community group Make The Road New York. It’s helping students and workers give back to their communities and pursue their dreams. Chanting “education not deportation” and “immigrants are welcome here,” the marchers carried signs supporting DACA and opposing policies that would tear communities and families apart. Ending DACA would also cost the city of New York an estimated $460 billion.  

Illinois Bakery Workers Ratify New Pact

A new three-year contract for Local 835 members at Bunny Bread increases wages for Shipping Clerks and Drivers by two percent annually and maintains their health insurance. With the employee contribution remaining the same for the life of the agreement, the company will be absorbing a five percent increase in year three. The contract also protects workers’ pensions, and adds a fifth year of vacation after 20 years of service. Holiday pay will also be increased for drivers. The workers are employed at Bunny Bread in Edwardsville, Illinois. The Bargaining Committee consisted of Chief Steward Michael David Fricker and Indiana Joint Board President Dave Altman.

Resistance at Work: Queer Employees at NYC Sex Toy Stores Organize a Union

The Pleasure Chest isn’t your typical workplace.  Employees at the sex toy store’s two New York City locations are mostly queer—many of them trans and gender non-conforming. And in late June, they did something few retail workers across the country dare to do: they formed a union, voting 16-0 to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Continue reading

Massachusetts Maintenance Workers Win Big Gains

Workers at Sodexo, a maintenance company with a contract at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts, have ratified a new three-year contract with big gains. The Local 875 members will see big pay increases of 15-22 percent over the course of the agreement. Continue reading