(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the planned legalization of cannabis in New York State. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) currently represents workers in the medical marijuana industry. John Durso, President of Local 338 of the RWDSU and Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU issued the following joint statement: “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 will take great steps towards undoing the harm that drug policies have caused to the very communities in which our members live and work. Additionally, as the representatives of the workforce of New York’s medical cannabis industry, we provide a unique perspective as to how to create a regulated system that addresses the individual concerns of workers, the community, and the industry as we regularly interact with all three of these crucial stakeholders. We are looking forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to ensure protections that guarantee the creation of jobs that provide good wages and benefits, crucial criminal justice reforms and equity standards for meaningful participation at every level of this new industry,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 of the RWDSU and Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The RWDSU joined community activists and elected officials today at City Hall in New York City to push back against the Amazon HQ deal in Queens that sees one of the world's richest companies set to receive billions of dollars in subsidies and handouts. The press conference was held ahead of City Council hearings on the Amazon HQ deal. Workers who perform back breaking work every day at Amazon’s Staten Island distribution center were on hand to tell their stories.
New York, NY – Today several prominent opponents of Amazon’s HQ2 deal for New York City dismissed Quinnipiac’s new poll on Amazon as meaningless. They noted that opposition to the HQ2 deal continues to grow every day and that the $3 billion backroom deal to help Amazon open a new corporate headquarters in New York City has been widely criticized for weeks. “This Quinnipiac poll means nothing. The reality is that opposition to this terrible Amazon HQ2 deal for New York City continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Amazon knows it is facing widespread opposition among New Yorkers across the city. That’s why Amazon went shopping for a new PR firm to help sell a $3 billion backroom deal that’s been criticized from every angle. This poll does nothing to change the fact that Amazon’s current HQ2 deal for New York City is fundamentally bad for workers and communities,”said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW. “This poll doesn’t come close to reflecting the reality in our communities, which stand united in opposition to the #HQ2Scam. Not a single community member with whom we’ve discussed the terms of this deal has said they support it. On the contrary, local residents are outraged by an enormous State and City giveaway to the world’s wealthiest man, and the displacement and immense pressure on our already-strained infrastructure that will certainly follow. Our community continues to rise and will defeat this bad deal,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “This poll is trash and should be thrown away with the rest of today’s garbage. No Quinnipiac pollster has spent real time on the ground in Long Island City and surrounding communities in recent weeks. We have. We know that the level of anger toward Amazon and the HQ2 deal is intensifying and spreading. More and more New Yorkers know that Amazon’s expanded presence in New York City will accelerate gentrification and displacement and endanger our communities,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change.
"Today, Amazon put warehouse workers in the hospital – again and one is fighting for their life in the ICU right now. Amazon's automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger today, the effects of which could be catastrophic and the long-term effects for 80+ workers are unknown. This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we cannot stand for this. The richest company in the world cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people's lives at risk. Our union will not back down until Amazon is held accountable for these and so many more dangerous labor practices," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
Who is the world’s worst boss? Read the facts and vote for Amazon's Jeff Bezos today. The winner of the world’s worst boss will be unveiled during the ITUC World Congress in Copenhagen, 2 – 7 December 2018.You can only vote for one of the ten bosses. When you have voted, email or share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter. VOTE HERE!
At NYC's City Hall today, the RWDSU was joined by community groups and elected officials to announce the release of "What's Wrong With Amazon?," a report detailing how Amazon's practices affect workers and communities. Read the report here:
A strong new contract for poultry workers at Koch Foods in Macon, Georgia, has been ratified unanimously by the RWDSU members who work there. Preparation for contract negotiations began long before face to face meetings with the company. To develop proposals that would have the most impact on members’ lives, Allen Mayne, Director of Collective Bargaining, Sandra Williams, RWDSU Representative and Desire Tillman, RWDSU Organizer, met with workers for over several months. The result was a new, groundbreaking three-year collective bargaining agreement that addressed all of the members’ priorities. In addition to generous guaranteed annual wage increases in each year of the contract, jobs classification rates were significantly increased and upgraded, resulting contractual raises for members ranging from $1.00 to over $2.00 per hour. The contract also strengthened language on seniority rights throughout the contract. The new contract ends any outsourcing of bargaining unit work, and new grievance and arbitration language expands workers’ rights and ensured fairness throughout the process. The new contract also protects the health care benefits and prohibits any changes.
Elected officials, the RWDSU, and community groups including Make the Road New York, NYCC, ALIGN and others gathered at the proposed site of the new Amazon HQ2 in Queens, New York, today to speak out against the over $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies the richest corporation in the world will be receiving to set up shop in NYC. The press conference and rally called for the city to demand that Amazon give back to the community rather than take, and called attention to the housing and transportation difficulties that the facility, which will house 25,000 Amazon employees, will cause in the community.
“New York deserves better than the deal that was struck to lure Amazon here. Its hard to believe that we are giving as much as $1 billion dollars to one of the wealthiest and largest companies in history. This was an opportunity to create good jobs in a way that benefits the city and workers. We should be demanding that Amazon respects its workforce by allowing them to exercise their right to freely associate. We should be demanding that they give back to the community and not drain public resources. Instead we got played. Amazon can afford to come here without handouts. Its embarrassing to think that such a great city would need to beg them to come. They are coming here because they need to come here - because we offer so much. Tax payers shouldn’t be on the hook to help Amazon be profitable – it’s a massively profitable private business. New York, we can and should do better,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).