(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) released a report, “Time Off Task: Pressure, Pain, and Productivity at Amazon” that highlighted the company’s unhealthy workplace practices at their Staten Island, New York facility. “Amazon has a well-documented history of mistreating and dehumanizing its workers in the U.S. and around the world. NYCOSH’s report shows the impacts at just one facility, in just its first year of operating. Testing hundreds of thousands of workers physical limits across the country is the wrong approach to increasing productivity. Operating at speeds where ‘80% of workers feel pressured’ means Amazon needs to hire more workers, under more sustainable speeds that don’t put worker’s lives in jeopardy. Amazon needs to understand that human beings are not robots,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). You can read the full report here.
Workers At Valley View Manor Nursing Home In Norwich, NY, Unanimously Vote To Ratify Their First RWDSU Contract
(NORWICH, NEW YORK) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that the workers at Valley View Manor Nursing Home (VVM) in Norwich, New York, voted unanimously to approve their first union contract. The negotiations committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong contract that ensures workers’ concerns will be heard. In order for workers to provide the best care for their patients they need to have fair scheduling and to be heard by management when they raise concerns about patient care. This first contract does that and so much more. “Workers at Valley View Manor 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). “It is clear that nursing home workers want change not just for themselves, but for their patients. The contract stipulations that workers at VVM secured helps accomplish both goals. It will make the nursing home not only a better place to work, but a better place to live.” Continue reading
Employees at Selma, Alabama Health Care Facility Want Better Care for Their Patients and Better Treatment for Themselves and Their Co-Workers (MOBILE, AL) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that workers at the Diversicare facility in Selma, Alabama, voted overwhelmingly to join the RWDSU Mid-South Council. Employees worked tirelessly to win their organizing drive as they look to address numerous issues at work that have resulted in patients at the facility not receiving the best care possible. Employees at Divsersicare spoke of being overworked, not receiving enough paid time off and vacation time, understaffing, and difficulty in being heard by management when it came to workplace issues. In order for workers to provide the best care for their patients they need to have fair scheduling, safe staffing levels and to be heard by management when they raise concerns about patient care. Continue reading
How the Iowa Caucus Disenfranchises Voters Democrats want to make voting more inclusive. In Iowa, they’re struggling. Sonya Sayers, a 56-year-old Democrat from Des Moines, Iowa, has encouraged her friends to vote in every caucus and general election for as long as she can remember. But she hasn’t always done so herself. Back in 2016, when she worked the late shift at a local fast-food restaurant, Sayers often didn’t get off until midnight, long after the caucus was over. She doesn’t work nights anymore, but she’s still not sure she’ll make it to the caucus this coming February. Read it here at The Atlantic
RWDSU Joins Inditex and UNI Global Union In Celebrating The Tenth Anniversary Of The Company's Global Framework Agreement
Today, Inditex and UNI Global Union, a federation of 20 million service workers including retail workers from more than 150 countries, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Global Framework Union. The Union was entered into by the two entities in 2009. During an event that took place at the Madrid head offices of the Economic and Social Council, the executive chairman of Inditex, Pablo Isla, and the general secretary of UNI Global Union, Christy Hoffman, reviewed the key milestones that have taken place during the collaboration between the Group and the union federation. The general secretaries of CCOO, José Maria Martínez, and of UGT, Miguel Ángel Cilleros, and the president of the US Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Stuart Appelbaum, presented a case study looking at how the agreement was successfully applied in the US. They all agreed on the importance of the role of the local unions in adapting the principles enshrined in a global agreement for each market. José Maria Martínez of CCOO said, “We are commemorating an agreement that has been good for the interests of Inditex and good for the interests of the men and women working for it in its various operating markets. But that is not all. We can also reaffirm that dialogue - at the national and global levels - between enterprises and unions is the best way of tackling management-employee relations in an economy in the throes of transformation”. The spokesperson for UGT said that “application of the Inditex-UNI Global Union agreement in all of the Group's stores and chains in the US has helped other American firms to see that employee unionisation, a stable labour relations framework and fair working conditions are compatible with concepts such as corporate competitiveness, profitability and growth”. Lastly, the president of the RWDSU said that “New York Zara workers saw the power of this global agreement first hand. They set a positive trend for workers in the industry across the U.S. – and they did so with a fair process that other companies should learn from and follow. The agreement has changed thousands of worker lives, improving their jobs, their wages, and their benefits, but it has also changed the retail industry”. Continue reading
Members, stewards and union reps of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union this weekend convened at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville for the union's annual Six State Conference. RWDSU officers, staff and worker leaders came together to discuss accomplishments from the previous year, while learning new strategies to grow and make our union stronger. The conference featured guest speakers from the leadership of the Tennessee AFL-CIO, as well as seminars on Health & Safety, Organizing, New Labor Regulations and Immigration. The Six State conference provides a space for members, stewards and union reps from different regions of the country to connect and build solidarity. And by holding the conference in Nashville, RWDSU demonstrated it's commitment to organize and fight for workers everywhere, especially in Right-To-Work states controlled by anti-union politicians.
(MOBILE, AL) – Today, the Fresenius Global Union Alliance (the Alliance), representing more than 50 unions around the world, announced a series of “Solidarity Days” to expose workers’ rights abuses at the German healthcare giant Fresenius, a global kidney dialysis company. The actions come in the wake of the Alliance’s demand that the company sign a Global Agreement on labor standards. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), represents workers at two Fresenius facilities in Alabama, and is in the process of organizing other Alabama facilities and several other states. The Alliance is calling for Fresenius to enter into a global agreement to address its track record of failing to follow international labor standards in several countries, including the United States where labor law has long paled in comparison to the global standard. In the United States, Fresenius has a long history of using third party consultants to stop employees from forming a union at its clinics. The company has paid out more than $400,000 to union busters, who often use fear tactics and other questionable methods to stop organizing efforts. U.S. workers have been forced to attend anti-union indoctrination sessions, and others report “one on one” interactions to pressure them from supporting a union. In April, the RWDSU announced that the union was able to secure a strong contract for workers that protects the technicians that provide critical care to patients in Mobile, Alabama. The contract set a scheduling protection precedent, which has brought stability to both workers and patients’ lives. At the time of the contract announcement the union stated that “the contract should set a standard not just for the global employer, but the industry,” – now the Fresenius Global Union Alliance seeks to ensure the company’s labor standards are the same across the world by demanding the company sign a global agreement. “The healthcare workers at Fresenius had one goal in seeking a union contract, care for their patients – they won – and now it’s time to ensure those standards extend to all Fresenius workers across the globe,” Randy Hadley, President of the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU said. “Together in global solidarity I know we can continue to spread the strong provisions in our first contract to so many other facilities where critical care like this is given to so many suffering from kidney disease and health issues. Fresenius needs to sign the Global Agreement now.” “We began this fight because we have seen a downward trend in our workplace and felt that no one was listening. Fresenius needs to respect our desires to organize a union and gain a collective voice to ensure that our patients lives and those that care for those patients are the top priority for Fresenius going forward,” said Samantha Anderson, RWDSU member and Fresenius worker in Alabama. As part of the announcement of the “Solidarity Days” by the Alliance, the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU is launching an informational website where the public will be able to sign up for updates on the treatment of workers at Fresenius. The website www.ChangeDialysis.org, will also provide information for workers seeking fair labor standards in their workplaces, as well as ways for patients and their family members to get involved in supporting workers. The RWDSU represents healthcare workers across the U.S. in Alabama, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. This announcement comes among a string of organizing and contract wins in the South for the RWDSU this year. The union continues to win organizing campaigns in Right-to-Work states, bringing a union voice for workers in previously vehemently anti-union workplaces. In May 2019, more than 50 representatives of employees and trade unions from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia met in Frankfurt to launch the Fresenius Global Union Alliance. The Alliance is coordinated by global unions PSI and UNI. The unions seek a global agreement with the company covering its 280,000 workers in 100 countries.
The new issue of the RWDSU Record spotlights strong new contracts, including a great new agreement for 1,800 Tyson poultry workers in Georgia. The RWDSU's efforts to organize workers and create better jobs in the growing Cannabis industry are also highlighted. Read it here
From New York City to Nashville to cities throughout the country, RWDSU celebrated Labor Day with fellow union members. RWDSU Local 1-S, Local 3, Local 670, Local 1102 and Local 338 marched up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. And the Nashville Tennessee District Council celebrated with a rally that featured a unity labor quilt in downtown Nashville. Continue reading
The following editorial appears in the newest Amsterdam News newspaper: CEOs sing a new tune, but action must follow STUART APPELBAUM President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union | 8/29/2019, 2:39 p.m. Business Roundtable—a lobbying organization made up of almost 200 chief executives from Apple, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and many more of the world’s largest companies—released a statement in August that purports to change the role of corporations in our society. The new stated goal, according to the report, is that corporations should promote “an economy that serves all Americans.” On the surface, it’s a welcome about-face from the “free-market” corporate identity established in the late 1960s where profit and “shareholder primacy” were the sole, overpowering motivation for corporate America. Since then, profits have driven everything for corporations—at the expense of workers, communities and the environment. The results have had a staggering effect; over the past five decades, the top 1 percent of American earners has nearly doubled their share of national income. The real value of American wages has flatlined, failing to keep up with increased productivity. And pay for top CEOs is now hundreds of times that of the pay of their employees. So, it’s good to see some of the world’s richest CEOs declare they are now dedicated to compensating employees fairly and providing them with important benefits while supporting communities and embracing environmentally friendly practices. It’s refreshing to see corporate America declare its dedication to diversity and inclusion and treating workers with dignity and respect. This is language that American workers, and the labor movement, agree with. We all know, however that talk is different than action. What the Business Roundtable didn’t say was specifically how corporate America is going to change. Income inequality was not addressed in the statement; neither was obscene CEO pay, nor changes in the way companies and management approach labor relations and politics. Since the late 1960s, when corporate America embraced a draconian free-market, profit-first ethos, union membership has fallen at a steady rate. So too has worker pay and benefits. This is no accident. Corporations have consistently used all of the resources at their disposal to fight workers’ wishes to organize, and to politically hurt unions. With few exceptions, corporations have done everything they can over the past 50 years to ensure that workers lose their union voice—the very “dignity and respect” they now claim to support. At the RWDSU, we’ve seen the difference it can make when companies stop spending money and resources to intimidate workers and prevent them from joining unions. Through global framework agreements, we’ve seen workers at fast fashion chains H&M and Zara join our union over the past decade, choosing a collective voice to make their jobs and their lives better. When companies agree not to fight their workers by bringing in expensive union-busting “consultants” and don’t intimidate or threaten their employees, workers choose the dignity and respect afforded by union membership. The statement by the Business Roundtable is a step in the right direction; but so far, it counts only as good PR. American corporations need to lead the way by ending their half-century war against unions and their own workers. That’s how true change will be achieved. That’s how America’s corporations can live up to their new stated purpose. Stuart Appelbaum serves as president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Website: www.rwdsu.org; Twitter: @sappelbaum