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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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
Over 40 workers at two separate dialysis centers voted overwhelmingly to join the RWDSU Mid-South Council, sticking together through six weeks of anti-union rhetoric. The anti-union campaign included management bringing in union-busting “consultants” to shut down the organizing drive, but workers Fresenius Kidney Care in Mobile, Alabama, were undaunted in their desire to win a union voice and make their jobs better.
"The white nationalism on display this weekend has no place in our communities, our politics or our workplaces. It is our responsibility to stand up against the hateful ideologies that have become alarmingly mainstream over the past year. My thoughts and prayers are with victims of these acts of terrorist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia."