Amazon Deal: New York Deserves Better

  “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). 

Working People Won Big on Election Day

An Op-Ed at the Chicago Sun Times says workers and unions are in a much better position following the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Read it here

Statement From RWDSU on New York Amazon HQ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Monday, November 5, 2018   STATEMENT FROM RWDSU: "Amazon, one of the wealthiest and largest companies in history, needs the city more than the city needs Amazon – plain and simple. If Amazon wants to come here they can afford to do so on their own. RWDSU is deeply concerned about using tax payer subsidies for a company run by the richest man on earth to set up shop in our city, especially when it’s something they want to do and can do on their own anyway. Tax payers shouldn’t be on the hook to help Amazon be profitable – it’s a massively profitable private business,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). 

New Pact Brings Gains for Illinois Cold Storage Workers

Members at RWDSU Local 578 of Rochelle, Illinois, who work at Americold, ratified a new five-year agreement calling for wage increases each year and a new improved wage progression structure, stronger seniority protections and job posting language, as well as improved bereavement leave, additional trainer pay, and reduced costs for members for insurance premiums. Americold is a cold storage facility.  Members of the Bargaining Committee we’re Anthony Chamberlain, Jason Good and Ross Ferger as well as Daniel Williams, President of RWDSU, Local 578 and Kelly Osborne, Recorder of Local 578. Assisting the Committee was Dennis Williams, Sr. Business Representative for the Central States Council, RWDSU and Roger Grobstich, RWDSU Representative.

GA Gov. Candidate Stacey Abrams Stands with RWDSU and Union Members

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivers a personal message to RWDSU members in a new video released by her campaign. Abrams voices her support for the labor movement, and its importance in creating a better economy for all Georgians. Early voting is open in Georgia through Friday, November 2. And Election Day is Tuesday November 6. If you need help getting to the polls, please call 888-730-5816. RWDSU is also hosting a Tele-Town Hall with Stacey Abrams on Saturday, November 3rd at 7:00pm. All you need to do to particpate is call in at the number provided below. Georgia members (along with friends and family) are invited to volunteer to get out the vote on Saturday November, 3rd. There are two events in both Atlanta and Columbus. If you are interested in attending, please call RWDSU Deputy Political Director Edgard Laborde at (917) 593-3838. Info for the events is below: ATLANTA501 Pulliam St SW, 3rd Floor, Atlanta, GA9:00AM - 1:30PM COLUMBUS502 1st Avenue, Columbus, GA2:PM to 4:00PM

Statement From RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum On The Proposed Federal Anti-Transgender Policy

Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) denounced a proposed federal policy, first reported by the New York Times, to redefine gender under Title IX in a way that will cause tremendous harm to the transgender and gender non-conforming community.  “The members of the RWDSU come from all walks of life—from every race and ethnicity, young and old, gay and straight, immigrant and native born. We are proud to represent all of them, and to stand with them when they are targeted and scapegoated," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)."We are also proud to count amongst our membership those in the transgender and gender non-conforming community. We read with alarm recent reports that the Trump administration is considering a change to the definition of the protections under Title IX that would essentially take basic human rights away from transgender people. We strongly reject this cruel and unnecessary proposal. Trans and gender non conforming people have the right to live free from discrimination. We have always said that trans rights are workers’ rights and we will continue to stand with the transgender community. And a message to our members who are trans: the RWDSU will continue to fight alongside you. You will not be erased.”

Ohio Leathermakers Win Gains

RWDSU members employed at Hugo Bosca Leather in Springfield, Ohio, ratified a new contract that brings good yearly raises, increases retirement benefits, and protects health care coverage without any cost increases to members. Local 379 members at Hugo Bosca manufacture high end leather products for retailers including Macy’s.

Big RWDSU Win for DHL Workers in Georgia

Workers at DHL in Union City, Georgia, overwhelmingly voted in favor of the RWDSU today, rejecting the company’s union busters and their lies and misinformation. The workers saw through the company’s anti-union campaign and are celebrating their huge victory as they have officially won their RWDSU union election. The workers at the DHL International Shipping distribution center in Union City, Georgia, voted to join the RWDSU Southeast Council, the latest in a string of organizing victories for workers and the RWDSU in Georgia. Workers at DHL joined the union for a number of reasons, including unfair scheduling and forced overtime, health and safety, and rampant favoritism. Most of all, they joined because of an astounding lack of respect by management. The workers today won a voice on the job, the right to negotiate a union guaranteed contract, and the respect they are entitled to. The campaign wasn’t easy, as the company fought hard against the workers’ efforts to win their union voice. The workers, however, stood strong in the face of the anti-union campaign and the union-busting anti-worker “consultants” the company hired to misinform and intimidate them.  

Big Commission Gains Highlight new Saks Chicago Pact

RWDSU Members at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago employed in the Jewelry Department have ratified their first union contract, a two-year agreement which raises commission pay significantly. The increase could result in members’ pay increasing thousands of dollars a year. In addition to the commission rate increase, a benefit package is established with paid time off including holiday, vacation, jury duty, and bereavement time. Health insurance and a retirement plan are also included in the new contract. In addition to the Jewelry Department, the RWDSU also represents non sales employees, warehouse, display and order workers at Saks. The Negotiating Committee included Ryan McIntyre, President Local 291, John McBarron, Local 291 Steward, Lisa Russell, CJB President and Ken Brown, RWDSU Representative.

Amazon Wage Increases Only the First Step

The following Op-Ed, by By Christy Hoffman  and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, appears in today's New York Daily News.= Amazon’s plan to raise wages for nearly 400,000 of its workers in the United States and the United Kingdom is a positive step. However, as the dust settles and the details become known, it is clear that there is still much more to do for the internet commerce giant to be considered a global leader in good employment practices. A profitable, trillion-dollar corporation headed by the richest man in the world should be more than able to pay employees well above the minimum wage, and it should also be able to include its workforces’ concerns in its decision-making In the United States, warehouse workers face unrealistic and inhuman work quotas. These demands have left them with illnesses, injuries and sometimes even hospitalization because of cruel working conditions. Contracted workers — such as those making “last-mile” deliveries — describe a disturbing pattern of the pressure and disregard for their wellbeing. These couriers say the job is so demanding that they cannot take bathroom breaks and often feel compelled to drive dangerously. In the United Kingdom alone, there have been 600 ambulance calls to the online retailer’s warehouses in the past three years, and, according to a study by the GMB union, roughly 80% of workers experience pain on the job. Workers in Germany say that pressure on the job is so high, both physically and psychologically, that they are getting sick. In fact, the very day these raises were announced, German Amazon workers in six of the country’s “fulfillment centers” were striking for the basic human right to have a union contract. This simple demand, to have a real say in working conditions and the security of a collective agreement, is not just being denied to employees in Germany. None of Amazon’s roughly 600,000 employees around the world have a comprehensive labor agreement. For years, workers have held strikes and other workplace actions in Spain, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States, yet Amazon has aggressively squashed workers’ efforts to gain a union contract globally. Just look at the horrible anti-union training video at Amazon-owned Whole Foods, which leaked the week before the raises were announced. Given all this, it is not shocking that labor unions around the world have a real fear that the pay increase will only fix a mere symptom of a deeper sickness in the company’s culture. For Amazon to be a “leader,” as it claimed to be when announcing the raise, it must allow workers to freely choose if they want a union — without intimidation. Workers should not be subject to anti-union propaganda and intense pressure when they are trying to organize for better working conditions. Jeff Bezos must now do more than listen; he must engage in a true dialogue. Let’s get to the root of Amazon’s workforce problems. Let’s fix the company together and make it the example we know it can be of a truly decent employer. Hoffman is general secretary of UNI Global Union. Appelbaum is president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.