The Counter In April, as meatpacking plants across the country continued to stay open despite emerging Covid-19 outbreaks among their employees, JBS USA made an announcement: It would secure free Covid-19 tests for all of the workers in its Greeley, Colorado plant—one of the largest in the country at 3,000 employees. At the time, just 36 employees at that facility had contracted the virus. In the next six months, another 258 would follow. Six would die. Now, a former contractor-turned-whistleblower has accused the Colorado facility of charging its uninsured employees $100 in cash for those tests. As first reported by The Greeley Tribune, an affidavit filed by the former contractor said she was hired to conduct Covid-19 screenings on site, and alleged that she was instructed to tell employees who were experiencing coughs to continue working. She also accused the company of neglecting to fix broken temperature-screening devices. In a separate affidavit, a second whistleblower corroborated many of her claims. read more at The Counter
Retail Workers Union is First Major Union to Endorse in 2021 Mayoral Race Herald Square – Today, in the first major labor endorsement in the race to be New York City’s next mayor, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced its support for Comptroller Scott Stringer. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, representing more than 45,000 members in New York, cited Stringer’s career-long commitment to economic justice and proven track record delivering for workers to lead an equitable recovery for New York City. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said: “RWDSU members put their lives on the line to keep this city running. From grocery stores to pharmacies to retail to food production, our essential workers took care of us all during the height of the pandemic - but continue to be ignored, underpaid, and overworked. That’s why now more than ever, we need a progressive leader in City Hall who will protect and advance the rights of working people. From combatting wage theft to fighting for robust workplace safety protections to championing paid family leave, Scott has always stood up for the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized workers. As a native son of Washington Heights, Scott knows that working people are the lifeblood of this city’s economy. Scott understands what we need for a just economic recovery and he has the values, the experience and the know-how to get it done. That’s why RWDSU is ready to get to work to elect Scott Stringer as the next Mayor of New York City.” Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “RWDSU is a fierce advocate for thousands of working families across New York City and around the country, and I am proud to have their support in this fight for our future. There is no recovery for New York City without guaranteeing the health, safety, and economic opportunity of the frontline workers that sustained us during the darkest days of the pandemic. We cannot go back to business as usual and reopen our economy the way we closed it. We need to fight for substantial employee benefits and hold employers accountable for worker safety - because no one should have to choose between their job and their health. We need to reimagine economic development in New York City to strengthen communities and create good-paying jobs. We need to create real pathways of opportunity to the middle-class, with affordable housing, education and job training programs that are actually affordable. These are the values I share with the hardworking members of the RWDSU - and I am proud to stand with them to make this city a fairer place to live, work and raise a family.” RWDSU’s endorsement follows support for the Stringer campaign from prominent leaders who represent the vanguard of New York City’s progressive movement, including: Congressmember Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx & Manhattan) Democratic nominee for Congress Jamaal Bowman (D-Bronx) Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) Sen. Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Brooklyn & Manhattan) Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn) Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) Assemblymember Maritza Davila (D-Brooklyn) Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan) Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) Assemblymember Al Taylor (D-Manhattan) Democratic nominee for Assembly Amanda Septimo (D-Bronx) Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) Scott Stringer grew up in Washington Heights in the 1970s. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school. Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1993 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.
In a story at Reuters, RWDSU President Appelbaum comments on Amazon Prime Day and the increased risk to Amazon workers. --- A report by news site Reveal said the week around last year’s Prime Day was the most dangerous for injuries at Amazon’s fulfillment centers, prompting criticism by a prominent union. “Amazon’s Prime Day means more injuries and unacceptable levels of stress for its workforce,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement. “During normal times it’s a grueling period for workers. During a global pandemic it may well push workers beyond their limit,” he said. --- Read the story at Reuters here
STATEMENT FROM RWDSU PRESIDENT STUART APPELBAUM Drop the Charges on Denver Anti-racism Organizers "We stand in solidarity with the Denver Area Labor Federation in their calling on District Attorneys Dave Young and George Brauchler to drop the charges against recently arrested organizers. The charges against these peaceful protesters is an attack on our democratic rights, similar to this administration's attacks on labor rights for workers across the country." Learn more at: https://tradeunionists4justice.org/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2020 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 AMAZON PRIME DAY STATEMENT FROM RWDSU PRESIDENT STUART APPELBAUM (NEW YORK, NY) – On the eve of the two-day Amazon Prime Day shopping event, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement: “Amazon’s Prime Day means more injuries and unacceptable levels of stress for its workforce. During normal times it’s a grueling period for workers. During a global pandemic it may well push workers beyond their limit. “Amazon continues to demonstrate a callous disregard for the health and safety of its employees. It shows more concern for its robots than for the working people who have helped create the massive wealth which has made Jeff Bezos the wealthiest person in the history of the world. Amazon’s business model is based on feasting on taxpayer-funded subsidies, paying little or no taxes and mistreating and dehumanizing its workforce. “When Amazon employees have spoken out about dangers in their workplace - especially during the pandemic, Amazon has responded by firing the workers and treating it as a public relations problem rather than as an urgent health and safety problem. As a result, Amazon workers have died. “Amazon has even developed data points and software to spy on their workers and to snuff out any attempts by them to exercise their legal right to organize – and that is unAmerican. “Amazon needs to change the way it operates. Amazon needs to understand that its workers are not expendable.” # # # 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: October 7, 2020 RWDSU ENDORSES KEVIN RILEY FOR CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 12 (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced the union’s endorsement of Kevin Riley for New York City Council District 12. “Kevin Riley knows what our members in The Bronx need. He’s spent his entire life working to lift up working people, families, communities and the next generation of Bronx residents – and now we need him to bring that work to the New York City Council. We know Kevin will bring new ideas, bold approaches, and his wealth of experience to the office. We are ready to get to work on his campaign. Kevin is a fighter and workers across District 12 need him to fight for them in the City Council,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). # # #
(NEW YORK, NY) – In response to today’s leak of how Amazon tracks worker, union and community group data using a new technology system called the geoSPatial Operating Console (SPOC), Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement: “Today’s leak sheds light on the horrendous data mining work we’ve known Amazon was capable of for far too long – it’s disturbing on every conceivable level. “It’s one thing to track a shopper’s internet activity to best market a pair of shoes to them; but it’s another when your intent is to control the minds of your workforce. Amazon’s tracking of workers’ micro-movements, decision points and searches and then linking all of that data to that of unions, community groups and legislative policy campaigns is union busting on its face. It is an attempt to silence a workforce experiencing some of the most egregious workplace hazards we’ve ever seen. “Workers have rights in this country. And it’s inexcusable for Amazon, or any company to spy on workers to keep them from exercising these rights.”
Several former employees of Housing Works claim that the Downtown Brooklyn nonprofit fired them during the COVID-19 pandemic as retribution for their involvement in an ongoing unionization effort. The Housing Works organizing group, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, plans to file Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the federal National Labor Relations Board on Friday, alleging company leadership tried to rid four of their rank-and-file for being outspoken unionizers. read it here at Brooklyn Paper
NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris announced legislation to keep New York workers safe on the job during the covid-19 pandemic. The legislation, known as the NY HERO Act, requires businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Photos from today’s press conference are available here. The NY HERO Act, or the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, would mandate the Departments of Labor and Health to implement minimum standards for workplace safety, enforceable through significant fines. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Employers would be permitted to establish individual regulations for their businesses that exceed state requirements. Workers would also be given a direct role in monitoring and reporting violations through workplace health and safety committees that would be empowered to raise complaints and report violations. The bill would protect employees from retaliation for utilizing their rights under the law. The NY HERO Act is supported by more than 100 labor, community, and safety organizations. Continue reading
“Governor Kim Reynolds’ response to Hurricane Derecho is failing our members in Iowa. Hundreds of hard working men and women who manufacture food that has been critically needed during the COVID-19 pandemic – at iconic American food brands like Quaker Oats, General Mills, and Cole’s Quality Foods – are living in a war zone. It is outrageous that it took Governor Reynolds nearly a week to call in the National Guard when we know it will take weeks and months to recover. Too many Iowans are suffering and it is not acceptable that they are living without electricity, many are unable to go work, downed trees block roads for families to get badly needed essential supplies – it’s horrific,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).