H&M Workers Push for New Contract

H&M employees want a new contract and they want it now. Two weeks ago, 1,500 H&M workers across multiple Manhattan locations rallied for a new deal after they felt management had no plan to bargain with them for a new deal. They recent contract’s already expired. At the Herald Square flagship location, workers (who are members of Local 1102 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union) rallied in favor of multiple demands including giving part-time employees a minimum of 14-18 hours a week and the right to time off after five consecutive days worked and scheduling provisions that would eliminate “clopenings” (where an employee works the late shift until closing and then come back the next day to open the store for an early shift). H&M employees also want a dental a vision plan. They have proposed no-cost dental and vision insurance for all workers through a plan sponsored by Local 1102 RWDSU. According to the union, it would cost H&M $5 per person per month. The union said H&M refused to agree to this provision. Read more about it at Amsterdam News

Labor and Community Activists Rally, Deliver Message to Bezos After Report on Amazon's Enabling of White Nationalist Merchants

Activists Demand Amazon Eliminate the Sale of Hateful Merchandise and Respond to Inhumane Labor Procedures Used to Distribute Products of Hate Groups (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and several community groups protested outside of Amazon’s Web Services Summit at New York City’s Javits Center just days after the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families released a report entitled “Delivering Hate: How Amazon’s Platforms Are Used to Spread White Supremacy, Anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia, and How Amazon Can Stop It”. Activists paved the way for Amazon Summit attendees entering the conference with the company’s own boxes demarcating the hateful products that Amazon sells. Leaders spoke on the outrageous practice of White Supremacists using Amazon’s platform to sell hateful goods targeted at both adults and children and Amazon’s complete and total disregard for their use of their platform to do so. The group then delivered a letter to Jeff Bezos calling on him to act now (text of letter below). “When a company knowingly allows hate groups to use their platform to sell offensive goods we cannot, and we will not stand for it. Jeff Bezos should be ashamed of himself, he should be horrified that he has given a vehicle to white supremacists to spread hate and he needs to commit to stopping it now,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “In a time where we are seeing the growth of racist movements in our country, it is dangerous for the largest online retailer and distributor of e-books, Amazon to provide these groups with a platform to spread their ideas and resources to support their operations. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his board of directors must take a public stand against hate and violence and stop enabling others to profit from it. Normalizing white supremacist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic extremists puts our communities and workers at risk. It’s time for Amazon to show which side are they on?” said Maritza Silva-Farrell Executive Director of Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN) “Amazon should be utterly ashamed of itself for aiding these white supremacist merchants,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York (MRNY). “As New Yorkers and as Americans, we are disgusted by the company’s backing of hate, and today we demand action. The company must immediately stop the selling of these items on its platform and take a clear stand against hate movements across all of its platforms.” “Jeff Bezos cannot have it both ways. He cannot claim he opposes Trump, while providing a safe haven in the online market to white supremacists and Trump supporters,” said Zack Lerner, Senior Campaign Director of New York Communities for Change (NYCC). “At a time where black and brown communities are under attack, the selling of items that promote violence are despicable. Amazon must immediately   stop letting its platform be used to sell items featuring hate symbols.” “No business in this country should be profiting off of hate and discrimination”, said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Amazon is enabling and empowering bigotry and discrimination and must immediately reject the sale of these products on its platform.” “In a moment of rising white nationalism and violence across the United States, it is unconscionable for any company to provide a platform for organizations to peddle their hate,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Instead of profiting from racist ideologies, Amazon must take immediate action to ensure that its marketplace is free from dangerous propaganda. I’m proud to stand with our partners in the labor and progressive movements and with fellow New Yorkers to demand Amazon do the right thing and stop putting profit over people’s lives.” “The fact that Amazon is peddling this hateful paraphernalia is despicable. Amazon should know better and this needs to stop. I am proud to stand with the men and women of RWDSU in their campaign to bring an end to Amazon’s profiting off from hatred and bigotry,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. In the wake of the report by the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families the RWDSU and community groups have been collecting signatures against Amazon. At the action on July 17, 2018 they submitted a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for change. The letter reads: Dear Jeff Bezos and Amazon Board of Directors, While incidents of violence by individuals associated with white nationalist hate groups are on the rise, Amazon continues to be a platform for the celebration of ideologies that promote violence against black people, communities of color, LGBTQ people, women, Muslims and Jewish people. Right now, Amazon is a safe haven for those who seek to spread and profit from these hateful ideas. A report by the Action Center on Race and the Economy and the Partnership for Working Families found that your company enables the spread of violent ideologies by allowing the sale of hate symbols and imagery on the site, including confederate and anti-Black imagery, Nazi and fascist imagery and the newly adopted imagery of the modern white nationalist movement. Some of these products are even targeted toward children. Additionally, white power and "hatecore" music is available on Amazon’s streaming platform, hate literature is available in Kindle ebooks, and known hate groups are using Amazon’s web content delivery network. Serving as a platform for hate just to turn a profit is dangerous and unacceptable. Amazon must take a public stand against this hate and violence and take action to ensure that it is not profiting from hate or enabling others to profit from hate. Amazon must: Take a clear public stand against hate movements and their ideologies and publicly pledge not to profit from hate. Develop more robust policies for all of its platforms in consultation with experts who study hate movements and symbols, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. These new policies must be consistent and transparent and evolve appropriately as hate movements and their symbols evolve. Develop and resource transparent enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Amazon and its users and clients are adhering to its policies. Stop letting its platform be used to sell items featuring hate symbols. Destroy any merchandise displaying hate symbols currently in Amazon-controlled warehouses and distribution centers. Stop facilitating the publication and distribution of hate movement propaganda. This means that Amazon should: Stop providing web content delivery services to identified hate groups. Remove electronic books by racist propagandists and authors connected to hate groups from Kindle ebooks. Stop allowing hate literature to be published via Kindle Direct Publishing. Stop making white power and “hatecore” music available on its streaming platform. Across its platforms, Amazon has the right and responsibility to determine what it sells, publishes and helps to deliver online. Now is the time to make clear that Amazon does not support or condone the spread of white nationalist ideologies. Now is the time to stop doing business with racist hate groups!

Coca-Contract Brings Gains for Indiana Workers

A new five-year agreement between Local 1096 members and Coca-Cola in Indianapolis, Indiana, was overwhelmingly ratified, bringing workers numerous improvements, including annual raises of 50 cents an hour, and a $1,000 ratification bonus. The new contract also brings the union into new employee orientation meetings so that new employees will better understand union benefits and how to get involved in the union. The contract also brings workers double pay when their shift extends over the course of two days and expands discrimination protection to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. Uniform and footwear will be provided annually, and vacation and work-related injury policies were improved. The new agreement will continue to provide employees health insurance coverage for the next five years, locking in the percentage of the premium the employees currently pay, for the life of the Agreement. In addition, the pension multiplier was increased. Serving on the Negotiating Committee were Kenny Bellamy, Karen Burnside, Lewis Allen, Paul Pearson, and Steve Foster. They were assisted by Indiana Joint Board President Dave Altman.

Two Amputations a Week: The Danger of Working in Meat Processing

The RWDSU is committed to bringing meat processors a union voice and improving health and safety in the workplace. A story at the Guardian explores why this is so important; "Amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma are just some of the serious injuries suffered by US meat plant workers every week, according to data seen by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism." read more about it here

RWDSU Endorses Ocasio-Cortez for Congress

  NEW YORK, NY – Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced the union’s endorsement of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Congress in the 14th District, which includes parts of the South Bronx and Northern Queens.   “The RWDSU congratulates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her primary win and we are pleased to announce our support for her campaign in the general election today. The voters of the 14th Congressional District sent a powerful message on Tuesday, and we respect it. Democrats win when we speak loudly to our shared values – economic justice for all, the rights of working people and marginalized communities, and the rights of immigrants – those whose voices have been trampled on by the Trump administration. That is the way to energize and activate voters – Alexandria did that, and her passion is our future. We know Alexandria is a candidate who will fight for working people and our union is pleased to announce our support for her campaign today,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

H&M Rally Makes Headlines as Workers Seek Fair Contract

Women's Wear Daily New York Daily News  

Activists, Workers, Elected Officials Rally at H&M for a Fair Contract

Today, with an expired contract, 1,500 unionized H&M workers at locations across Manhattan ramped up their campaign for a fair new contract. After months of negotiations, it was clear to the union that the company was not bargaining with any real intent to secure a new contract. A number of elected officials joined H&M retail professionals, who are members of Local 1102 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), at the Herald Square Flagship location – the largest H&M store in the world, to rally for essential scheduling provisions that would eliminate “clopenings”, give part-time workers a minimum of 14-18 hours a week and the right to time off after five consecutive days worked, among many other fair union demands. “Our members used to be proud to work for H&M, but their utter disregard for their workers, which we’ve seen deteriorate over months of negotiations tells a different story. Forcing low-wage workers into a schedule that can only provide poverty level wages with no ability to work a needed second job is disgusting. We cannot stand for it, we will not stand for it, and we will fight until we secure a fair new contract for the over 1,500 workers we represent at H&M,” said Alvin Ramnarain, President of Local 1102 of the RWDSU. “When a global company such as H & M treats employees in New York worse than their employees in their home country and elsewhere around the world, they are insulting all New Yorkers. Their refusal to address serious scheduling issues is a huge mistake as well as a bad business decision. H & M wants the benefit of being in the New York market - but it is treating its New York employees as second-class workers. We will not tolerate that,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “I travel over an hour to get to work everyday. When I heard that H&M wanted to reinstate a banned practice of ‘clopenings’, which would require that I get less than 5 hours of sleep a night I was outraged. Working at H&M has been a good job over the past 12 years, but if they instate these horrendous scheduling practices I won’t be able to provide for my family and I will need to seek other employment,” said Khadejiah Legrier an H&M Sales Associate. “As Washington moves to erode our progress for workers' rights, we in New York City stand together to fight back,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “New York’s workers power this city, and we will do everything we can to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect – for H&M, that means guaranteeing its workers a fair contract. Thank you to our partners at RWDSU for their tireless commitment to advancing and protecting the rights of working people in our city and across the country. “Every worker in our City deserves to be paid well and treated well,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “It is clear that H&M must demonstrate this basic principle by coming to the table to negotiate health benefits, work hours, and a fair contract that we demand of New York businesses. I thank RWDSU and Local 1102 for leading the fight to protect our workers and uplift our families and I strongly urge H&M to act in good faith. “Unpredictable work schedules force workers to scramble to find child care and elder care, arrange transportation, re-schedule other jobs and cancel classes. It's unfair, unstable and catastrophic for workers and families. As the sponsor of legislation to restrict on-call scheduling and protect workers, I am proud to stand behind RWDSU workers in their fight for job stability, fair treatment and peace of mind,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan). “As a former union organizer, I understand firsthand that it is through good faith collective bargaining that unions are able to ensure workers have access to fundamental benefits that make their time at work more productive. With access to health benefits and guaranteed work hours, workers have just a few less stresses to think about as they go about their productive day at work. It is a shame that H&M simply does not see it the same way. By failing to bargain in good faith, H&M is not only letting down their workers, but they are once again letting down families and their customers,” said State Senator Marisol Alcántara. Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried said, “H&M should bargain with its workers in good faith and negotiate a fair contract with good health benefits and guaranteed hours.” “New York State is one of the top 5 states with the highest number of retail sales workers. I am proud to support H&M employees and all Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) workers who want a fair contract providing fair schedules and affordable healthcare.  The strength of our entire retail workforce is only as strong as the protections of an individual retail worker’s quality of life,” said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright.  Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) says, “I stand with RWSDU and all workers in their fight to obtain fair scheduling, guaranteed work hours and health benefits. The fiber of our economy is our workers; treating them fairly is a moral obligation.”   “I am saddened that H&M won’t negotiate in good faith for basic worker rights, such as guaranteed hours and health benefits.   I’m asking that they come to the table and negotiate in good faith,” said Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Queens).   “Workers deserve access to a dependable schedule, so they can manage child care, doctors’ appointments, and even the ability to budget effectively – all things that are nearly impossible with a schedule always in flux,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “A measly eight hours guaranteed is unacceptable and leads to significant income insecurity. I stand in solidarity with union retail workers as they fight for reasonable schedules and affordable health benefits.”   H&M cannot afford to weaken a workforce so devoted to customer service, especially when the company faces greater competition in the market from new foreign fast-fashion stores opening up every day. These talented employees create a unique shopping experience for countless customers, and they play an irreplaceable role in driving the positive image, brand, and profitability of H&M as a global company. When workers are respected and empowered, they are happier on the job, and can do more to improve the shopping experience for customers, which leads to increased sales and higher profit, giving H&M an edge over competitors.     Top Five Demands of the Company by the Union Include: Guaranteed Part- Time Hours: The union has proposed a minimum guarantee of between 14 to18 hours per week for all part-time employees who want to work that much. But H&M has said they wish to guarantee ONLY 8 working hours per week. 8 hours barely covers worker’s subway trips, and, above all, because H&M is demanding that workers have open availability Friday through Sunday, they are essentially shutting workers out of a needed second job.   Eliminating “Clopenings”: “Clopenings” must stop. The union has proposed a minimum of 10.5 hours rest time between workers closing and opening shifts. It may take a worker hours to get home at night, and then they have to turn around and return early the next morning to open the store. This does not provide for any work‐life balance, which H&M claims as one of its values.   No More Than 5 Consecutive Days Worked: The Committee has proposed to eliminate employees being scheduled for more than five consecutive days worked. Currently, some employees are sometimes scheduled 6 to 8 days in a row without a scheduled day off. Workers should not be forced to work more than five consecutive days, unless they choose to pick up more shifts. H&M doesn’t see the issue that many workers have reported as a problem to the union.   Dental Insurance & Eyeglasses: Many workers lack dental and vision insurance. The union has proposed no‐cost dental and vision insurance for all H&M employees through a Local 1102 RWDSU sponsored plan. The cost to the company is a measly $5 per person per month. H&M refuses to make this extremely minimal investment to provide workers a benefit, which will get them a free pair of glasses and up to $1,500 in dental work per year. 50 Cents/Hour In Longevity Pay For Senior Employees: The Committee has proposed an additional, hourly increase of $.50 cents for senior employees who have worked at H&M for 3 years or more. The sad thing is that H&M agrees with us that veteran employees should get this money – however, they do not want to guarantee it in the contract and has demanded the ability to use their “management discretion” to give it to some people that they like, but not others. The above proposals will cost H&M very little money and the majority of them don’t cost the company a dime. But the company just won’t make even a basic adjustment to the way they do the SCHEDULE to improve workers lives, and yet they claim to “believe in people.”  

Statement on SCOTUS Janus Decision

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU PRESIDENT STUART APPELBAUM     “At a time when working people continue to struggle, our government and the courts should be supporting stronger unions, not working to undermine them. This decision is nothing more than a thinly-veiled political attack on public unions. Despite this decision, a reinvigorated labor movement will continue to help workers organize and use their constitutionally-guaranteed union voice. Strong unions remain the only way workers can guarantee better jobs and better lives,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

New York Primary Night Statement

Members Across New York State Worked Tirelessly in Support of Securing Congressional Primary Wins for RWDSU Endorsed Candidates – Union Narrows in on November Election   NEW YORK, NY – Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) thanked members across New York who worked to secure Primary Wins in key Congressional races. The RWDSU’s political work will continue across the country as we head into the mid-term elections in November.     “Working people need strong advocates in Washington, D.C. We count on members of Congress to stand up and fight for our rights. And we are proud to support candidates who understand that working women and men are the foundation of our society; workers need to be treated with dignity, justice and respect. I am proud of the work our members did to ensure victory tonight in so many key Congressional Primaries across the state. Our work continues as we head into the November General Elections and the RWDSU will be standing with candidates across the country to ensure candidates who put working people first are elected,”said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).  

Pleasure Chest Workers Strike on Pride Day

Today the RWDSU members at The Pleasure Chest New York walked out on strike during the #NYCPrideParade! They were also invited to marched in the parade with Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Diane J. Savino and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. THANK YOU to everyone at #Pride who came to express their support! Workers' rights are gay rights!