FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 13, 2019 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 1,800 WORKERS AT TYSON VOTE TO RATIFY STONGEST POULTRY INDUSTRY CONTRACT IN YEARS Workers at Tyson in Camilla, Georgia Will Receive Guaranteed Annual Wage Increases, a Drastic Reduction in Health Care Premiums, and Overtime for Working on Personal Days (ATLANTA, GA) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that 1,800 workers at the Equity / Tyson poultry processing plant in Camilla, Georgia, voted overwhelmingly, by 97% of those members voting to ratify their latest contract. The negotiation team at the Southeast Council of the RWDSU worked tirelessly to secure the strongest contract that workers in the poultry industry have seen in years. The RWDSU represents poultry workers across the Southern U.S., including workers at Pilgrim’s Pride, Wayne Farms, and Tyson locations in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. This announcement comes among a string of organizing and contract wins in the South for the RWDSU. The union continues to win organizing campaigns in Right-to-Work states, bringing a union voice for workers in previously vehemently anti-union workplaces. The RWDSU has continuously secured strong contracts across the south in food processing and distribution among many other industries. Today’s ratification at Tyson now leads the industry. “The people of Georgia are fighters, and especially the workers at Equity / Tyson in Camilla, are a strong force for real industry change – and I could not be prouder to work with them to secure this contract,” Edgar Fields, President of the Southeast Council of the RWDSU said.“Absolutely nothing could stop our members from fighting for the critical provisions of this contract that were going to impact so many workers not just at this facility, but for years to come at so many others – they set a new standard for poultry workers.” The ratification of this contract was conducted in the afternoon of Saturday, April 12, 2019 and was approved by an overwhelming margin. The RWDSU represents over 1,800 workers at this Equity / Tyson poultry-processing center, more than 3,000 workers in Georgia, and over 10,000 poultry workers across the Southern U.S. The contract will be in effect for three years and includes critical provisions such as: A large Reduction in health care costs to members, which makes it affordable for them to cover their families with medical coverage. Annual general wage increases over the term of the contract equaling $1.50, an additional $0.20 cents per hour wage increase based on seniority, and additional classification wage increases in some jobs of up to $0.75 cents per hour. For example a senior worker in the live hang job classification could see a first year wage increase of a $1.45 per hour, and up to $2.50 cents per hour over the term of the contract. A major victory was that Personal Days now count as time worked for the purpose of computing overtime, when previously they did not. Additionally workers can now use personal days on Fridays, Mondays, and on the weekend, when previously they were not allowed to take personal days on these days. There was a major overhaul of the contract language clarifying many articles in the contract, which will help workers on the job, including strengthening seniority, job bidding rights, layoff and recall rights, and many other provisions in the contract as well. The employer will post all job promotions and openings in conspicuous places in the plant, and recognize our members’ rights to obtain those jobs by seniority. From L-R: Director of Collective Bargaining and Assistant to the President Allen Mayne, Tyson Worker Negotiations Committee, RWDSU Southeast Council President Edgar Fields, and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. # # # 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 atwww.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.
The RWDSU represents over 2,800 workers at three Fresh Mark meat-processing plants in Ohio; Fresh Mark Salem, Fresh Mark Massillon, and Fresh Mark Cold Storage. At a meeting recently, Fresh Mark workers met for important steward training, and the union distributed RWDSU red vests for all members so they can show off their RWDSU pride and union solidarity. The Vest Committee (pictured) distributed the vests to workers at all three plants.
STATEN ISLAND, NY— Organized labor took their fight to Amazon’s doorstep this afternoon, where a crowd of around 100 union members and community organizers gathered in Matrix Global Logistics Park, the site of fulfillment center JFK8 and former place of employment for Justin Rashad Long. The heavily roboticized Staten Island fulfillment center has been a flashpoint for activists since the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union announced it would be helping workers unionize JFK8 in December. Long, one of the most outspoken workers employed at the center, was fired in February in what he and labor leaders believe was retaliation for his testimony about conditions within the facility. “They talk to you like you’re nothing — all they care about is their numbers,” Long told Bloomberg last year, in testimony that would later be echoed by others employed at JFK8. Read the whole story at Gizmodo
Eight chalk silhouettes cover the sidewalk at the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place. Earlier today, union members, activists, city officials and others gathered outside the landmarked site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to honor the 108th anniversary of the historic blaze that revealed abhorrent working conditions but ultimately strengthened the labor movement. read more about the anniversary and the memorial efforts here
A union organizing Amazon.com Inc. employees in New York has filed a complaint accusing the company of illegally firing one of the labor group’s most prominent supporters. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union submitted a complaint Wednesday to the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the retailer violated federal law when it terminated Staten Island fulfillment center employee Rashad Long. read the story at Bloomberg read the in-depth New York Times article
An eye-opening story at the Daily Beast details 911 calls from Amazon employees from inside the company's warehouses. These chilling taped accounts put a spotlight and breakdowns and suicidal behavior by Amazon employees, who are succumbing to the pressure of their jobs. Read it here
The New York State AFL-CIO supports legislation to allow for the adult-use of cannabis in New York, as well as job creation and an entrepreneurial pathway for communities and individuals negatively impacted by past social problems and stigma associated with cannabis. The most effective way to address many of the social problems of the past is to ensure a pathway to unionization for all cannabis workers. This is already the case in the medical marijuana industry where union contracts lead to family sustaining jobs. This includes guaranteed wage increases, paid time off, quality affordable healthcare for workers and their families, retirement savings and on-the-job training. This has been achieved by requiring labor peace agreements in the medical marijuana law which should be extended to adult-use licensees and Special Use Permits, no matter the size of the program. There is no better way to counter social and economic problems than to establish a sustainable future for individuals by ensuring they have access to middle class jobs. Read the rest of the statement here
“We want to congratulate Jumaane Williams on his win as our next Public Advocate. He won a tough race in which so many of the candidates were strong supporters and allies of our union and our members. Jumaane has stood with us time and time again to ensure the rights of New Yorkers are protected and that all workers have a voice and are represented. We look forward to working together on issues that affect our members and low-income New Yorkers. We will climb the hills we are facing together, we will keep moving up together, until we reach the top together,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The New York Times today examines the challenges facing unions as they try to fight for working men and women in the "new economy" of Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb, and how unions are leveraging their power in large cities to defend their values. Read it here at the New York Times
“Dear Amazon,” the Valentine’s Day meme read. It was the day Amazon announced it would not, after all, be setting up a second headquarters in Long Island City. “It’s not us. It’s you.” The meme, created by CAAV Organizing Asian Communities, one of many groups fighting the Amazon deal, was cute and funny, but only partly true. After all, it was “us” — the combined forces of the New York left, from new kids on the block like Queens Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), to community groups like CAAV and DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), who have been in Queens for years, to RWDSU (the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union) and many other people and organizations. This coalition deserves credit for defeating Governor Cuomo’s terrible plan to give a highly profitable, famously tax-evading company billions in tax breaks to enrich developers and make Long Island City even less affordable for the many working-class people who live there. read more at Jacobin here