Apply for the 2021 RWDSU Scholarship!

The 2021 RWDSU Al Heaps Scholarship application is now live. The RWDSU Alvin E. Heaps scholarship is given annually to RWDSU members or members of an RWDSU family, and rewards good grades and a demonstrated understanding of the role of unions in workers’ lives. The Scholarship honors the legacy of former RWDSU President Alvin E. Heaps (1919-1986). The next scholarship has a submission deadline of May 31, 2021. Download and print the scholarship application here! And, don't forget to check out Union Plus scholarship programs. RWDSU members are eligible for Union Plus benefits.

New Contract for New Jersey Bus Drivers

RWDSU Local 108 members in New Jersey who work as bus drivers for Tri-State Transportation have ratified a new three-year contract. “This contract recognizes that private sector bus drivers are professionals, with significant wage increases and other improvements,” said Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr. The contract brings $1 per hour pay raises each year of the agreement, and will reduce employees’ health care premium costs. In addition, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will be added as a paid holiday.

6,000 Amazon warehouse workers will hold union vote in Alabama on Feb. 8

Amazon warehouse workers at an Alabama warehouse can begin voting by mail in early February on whether to form a union, a National Labor Relations Board hearing officer ruled Friday. About 6,000 employees at the fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama will cast their ballots beginning on Feb. 8 to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Ballots must be received by the NLRB’s regional office by March 29, then the board will begin counting the ballots beginning at 10 a.m. CT on the following day. The decision represents a blow to Amazon, which had pushed for the election to be held in person at the Bessemer facility, known as BHM1. Read more about it at CNBC

Details Count Once Again in Marijuana Legalization Push

The legalization of cannabis in New York is once again on the agend for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many state lawmakers. But even as the proposal is being pushed in part to aid a cash-strapped state by generating more revenue, the measure could once again face similar scrutiny over how it aids communities affect by stricter drug laws of the past.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday formally called for the inclusion of a marijuana legalization measure, pointing to the need to generate more cash for the state, but also as the criminal justice issue it has been considered for years by advocates. "This will raise revenue and will end the over criminalization of this product that has left so many communities of color over policed and over incarcerated," he said.  And progressives are going to be closely watching to ensure that is the case with whatever final measure is agreed to. A joint statement from the Rev. Al Sharpton, former Bernie Sanders campaign chair and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum pointed to the need for an equitable distribution of revenue, workplace compensation and the right to join a union.  read the rest at NY1


“The events that occurred in our nation’s capital yesterday should have horrified all people living in our country. The very act of storming the U.S. Capitol in the name of overturning this election directly undermines our democracy. At the same time, we are dismayed by the wholly inadequate response from law enforcement officials. “Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a historic movement for racial justice grow in this country. Unfortunately, the response from the President, law enforcement, and the national guard at many Black Lives Matter rallies throughout our cities could not have been more different. It pains us to watch the security at the Capitol put up little to no resistance as they both let in and escorted out the people attempting this coup against our nation. We have to be clear - the probable reason that this coup attempt was not dealt with in the same way as the Black Lives Matter rallies was because the people attempting it were white and not seen as threatening. We must call this out and take a stand against the deep racism that allows a situation like this to take place. “It cannot be lost on us that Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to “take action” and “stand by” for January 6th as he continues to spread conspiracies and lies about the results of this election. In the labor movement, we’re used to employers using these same kinds of tactics to undermine workers’ rights and keep working people disempowered. As a union, we know how to overcome division and bring people from many different backgrounds together with a common goal for justice. Although Trump lost this election, we can’t expect this way of thinking to disappear once he is removed from office. We need to join together across race, gender, and class lines to push back against Trumpian logic and this rise of the far right. Our democracy depends on it,” 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, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

RWDSU Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This month, Americans everywhere salute the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Dr. King's legacy has special meaning. We take special pride that, in 1968, the RWDSU was the first union anywhere to negotiate a contract guaranteeing Dr. King's birthday as a paid holiday. The RWDSU was among the earliest supporters of Dr. King's grassroots drive to challenge racial injustice in the South.  In Chicago during the 1960s, RWDSU provided an important forum for Dr. King to speak out against poverty in America's cities.  Later, thousands of RWDSU members stood shoulder to shoulder with other Civil Rights Activists during the historic 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King saw the Civil Rights struggle and the labor movement as closely linked.  He was a constant ally of Union Activists and most have forgotten that Dr. King was in Tennessee to support a Living Wage for Sanitation Strikers on that terrible April day in 1968 when he was slain at the age of 39. Dr. King spoke about the importance of the labor movement on many occasions, some of which you can read about below. In reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King, the RWDSU recognizes the fight he began is not over until equality for all is a reality, and it is up to our generation of RWDSU members to complete his mission. Below is our commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Click to enlarge)  

Housing Works employees join RWDSU

Housing Works employees gave themselves a late Christmas present last week. Employees at Housing Works, in a vote of 88% to 12%, agreed to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) after two years of organizing efforts. The vote was conducted via mail-in ballots that were sent to the Labor Board on Dec. 14. The union will now represent all 605 Housing Works employees in the five boroughs and help negotiate a contract with Housing Works this year. Workers at the bargaining table will reportedly deal with all issues involving health care, retail, social work and legal. Workers hope that their affiliation with RWDSU will help them fix issues that have exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve complained about long hours and low wages at the organizations’ thrift stores and bookshops around the city citing an average pay of $16 an hour during 16-hour days and six-day weeks. Read more at Amsterdam News  Continue reading


Cannabis Legalization Provides Opportunity for Working People  (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to legalize adult-use cannabis in New York ahead of his State of the State address. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents workers in the medical cannabis industry across New York State. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU and John Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU issued the following joint statement:  “Legalizing adult use-cannabis will create incredible opportunities for New York’s communities at every level of the industry, from ownership to management to the workforce. It’s been estimated that our State has the potential to see 30,000 new jobs just from this industry and as a result, we must ensure that these are quality, union careers and that neighborhoods that have long been struggling have access to these jobs. As a labor union, a key component of the work that we do in advocating for working men and women is related to fighting for economic and social justice. Legalizing cannabis is a natural bridge for this work, and we appreciate that it’s one of Governor Cuomo’s priorities this year. We’re looking forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to ensure that 2021 is the year New York legalizes adult-use cannabis,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).    

NYC Housing Works employees overwhelmingly vote to unionize

After two years in the trenches, and a tense confrontation last year with their employer, Housing Works staffers across New York City have voted to unionize. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union announced on Dec. 23 that the nonprofit’s workers voted 88% to 12% to join the national union, which represents 100,000 workers across the country. The holiday vote was the largest union election in New York state this year, union officials said. “These workers experienced a needlessly long fight to unionize their workplace. Their tenacity, and fortitude never wavered in this unnecessarily long process, which was stalled by their employer at every turn,” said union president Stuart Appelbaum. Read more at NY Daily News 

Housing Works Employees Vote to Join RWDSU

Housing Works employees voted by an overwhelming margin to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Dec. 23, representing a major victory for workers at a non-profit organization that serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing homelessness. Employees voted 88 percent to 12 percent to join RWDSU in a lopsided vote that sent a strong message to Housing Works CEO Charles King and his management team, which has mounted resistance to the organizing effort. According to RWDSU, contract negotiations will kick off next year. Workers covered under the bargaining unit include case workers, social workers, healthcare and retail employees, and maintenance and legal staffers. “We’re proud to finally and officially welcome the 605 workers employed by Housing Works into our union,” RWDSU’s president, Stuart Appelbaum, said in a written statement. “Workers experienced a needlessly long fight to unionize their workplace. Their tenacity and fortitude never wavered in this unnecessarily long process, which was stalled by their employer at every turn.” The vote came more than a year after workers stormed off the job last October and marched to Brooklyn Borough Hall, where employees — backed by RWDSU — aired out their concerns about low pay, poor healthcare coverage, high caseloads, and other issues at Housing Works, which also operates thrift shops in multiple locations around the city. More here at Brooklyn Paper