New Contract for Illinois Health Care Workers

A new three-year contract at Aperion Health Care in New Rochelle, Illinois, brings the Local 578 members there four percent annual wage increases and increases the starting minimum wage for new hires to $15 per hour. Two new paid holidays – members’ birthdays and a personal day - have been implemented. And there were numerous language improvements, including discrimination protection, reduced probation period from 90 to 60 days, Paid Time Off eligibility from the first year of employment, improvements in grievance procedure and funeral leave pay, higher uniform allowance and improved successorship language. In addition, all members received a $250 signing bonus upon ratification of the new contract. Members of the Negotiating Committee for Local 578 included Local 578 President Daniel Williams, Recorder Ryan Williams, Stewards Johnette Dorsey and Taneika Sanders, RWDSU Representative Roger Grobstich, and Sr. Business Representative for the Central States Council Dennis Williams, Sr.

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU ON INCOMING NEW YORK GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 10, 2021 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] || 347-866-6259   STATEMENT FROM RWDSU   (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, in response to the announcement of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement on incoming New York Governor Kathy Hochul: “The RWDSU welcomes our soon-to-be Governor, Kathy Hochul, as she takes on the enormous responsibilities of governing our state, and managing New York’s response to the pandemic.    “We have worked with her throughout her years in Congress and as Lieutenant Governor; and we have seen that she is a strong and smart leader with the right values. “We look forward to continuing to work with her to protect and advance the needs of working people during these extraordinary times.”  # # #  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 at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU ON THE PASSING OF AFL-CIO PRESIDENT RICHARD TRUMKA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2021 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 “Richard Trumka was a steadfast brother to our union and never wavered in his support for our members and workers organizing with our union. As leader of the AFL-CIO he gave voice to the hopes and dreams of millions of working families. He spoke at many RWDSU conventions, and his words and actions inspired us all. He will be terribly missed, not just by us but by the entire labor movement. “Rich always put workers first and he will forever be remembered as a powerful and compassionate leader. Time and again Rich stood with us. In the face of our changing industries, in the wake of the rise of e-commerce and automation, Rich was there to support our members as we took on the systemic workplace issues facing the 21st century labor movement. He supported and encouraged us as we stood up to Amazon. “And whether it was in the Bronx at the Kingsbridge Armory fighting to ensure workers were treated fairly in economic development projects or in Bessemer, Alabama, taking on the cruel workplace practices of Amazon, Rich was right there with us leading the fight.  “When our members faced unimaginable health and safety issues in the COVID-19 pandemic, Rich supported our demands for proper safety protocols and badly needed hazard pay to protect workers who suddenly found themselves on the front lines.  “He wasn’t afraid to take on the big fights, and he was there for every worker. Most importantly, he knew that working people only have power when we stand together. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the AFL-CIO, and with workers across the country as we mourn the passing of Rich Trumka. He left an indelible mark, and as we move forward in our fight for workers' rights we must continue to honor his life,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka at the RWDSU Convention in 2018  # # # 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 at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 4, 2021 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 STATEMENT FROM RWDSU    (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, in light of the findings of the independent investigation conducted into the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign: “Governor Andrew Cuomo has provided crucial leadership during the pandemic; he raised the minimum wage to $15 before any other state; he achieved marriage equality in New York when others didn’t believe it would be possible. Our union will always be grateful for when his leadership supported our members. “Yet after reading the 164-page report of the independent investigation overseen by the Office of the State Attorney General, we cannot ignore the facts. The Governor’s behavior towards women in his own workplace was well documented and verified through multiple sources. There can be no denying that his behavior created a toxic environment for women, and can only be called sexual harassment. “The RWDSU fights daily to uphold our values of dignity and respect in the workplace for our members.  We cannot accept anything less from our leaders. Whether Governor Cuomo believes he acted maliciously or not, we cannot look the other way; nor should he. Governor Cuomo needs to recognize the harm he has caused the women who have bravely come forward. While we acknowledge the good things he has achieved, now is the time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”  # # # 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 at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

BREAKING: NLRB HEARING OFFICER RECOMMENDS NEW ELECTION AT AMAZON IN BESSEMER, ALABAMA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 2, 2021 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 NLRB HEARING OFFICER RECOMMENDS NEW ELECTION AT AMAZON IN BESSEMER, ALABAMA Workers Await Formal Decision on Objections and Direction of a Second Election (BESSEMER, AL) – Today, the hearing officer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) formally submitted her initial recommendation on the Objections filed by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The union had charged Amazon with illegal misconduct during the union vote in Bessemer, Alabama. In a final step towards a formal decision, the Hearing Officer who presided over the case has determined that Amazon violated labor law; and is recommending that the Regional Director set aside the results of the election and direct a second election. Workers endured an intensive anti-union campaign designed by Amazon to intimidate and interfere with their choice on whether or not to form a union. Today’s recommendation is based on Amazon’s illegal tactics and shows how the company was willing to use any and all tactics, illegal or otherwise, to stop workers from forming a union. Workers now await a formal Decision on Objections from the Regional Director, which would include a Direction of a Second Election if the hearing officer’s recommendation is adopted. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement in support of the initial recommendation: “Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union. We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election. As President Biden reminded us earlier this year, the question of whether or not to have a union is supposed to be the workers’ decision and not the employer’s. Amazon’s behavior throughout the election process was despicable. Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable.” NOTE: Please contact the NLRB directly and follow their procedures to potentially receive a copy of the recommendation.   # # # 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 at www.rwdsu.org, Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.

RWDSU Pickets for Fair Contract at New Jersey Nursing Home

RWDSU Local 108 members, joined by officers of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and officers and members of allied unions, held an informational picket on Saturday, July 24, to bring attention to stalled contract talks with Complete Care Management LLC. Complete Care is the new owner of Burlington Woods and Woodlands nursing home facilities where Local 108 members provide attentive and compassionate care for ill and aged residents. Members spoke of how new management aims to drastically reduce their future paid time off, wipe out the time off they accumulated during 16 months of tireless work during the pandemic, and slash the effectiveness of their health care plans. Local 108 also stated that management is seeking to lock in pay rates for as long as four years, and that management has not made clear if additional New Jersey funding for nursing homes paid for recent wage increases or if the increases reflect Complete Care pay policies. “Contract talks need to resume promptly, and Complete Care needs to negotiate in good faith with their courageous workers who continue to provide invaluable care during the COVID pandemic,” said Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr.

New York will be buzzing with union jobs thanks to upcoming pot industry

New York Post Union jobs in New York are about to be so dope. Thousands of well-paying gigs — with great benefits to boot — are on the horizon in the state, thanks to the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, labor leaders tell The Post. The Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union — the so-called “cannabis union” whose patch is a bright green marijuana plant — is chomping at the bit to represent thousands of workers in the budding market. “We expect a decent-sized cannabis industry developing in New York State,” said Joseph Fontano, secretary-treasurer of the Long Island-based union. “I think the numbers of new workers will be significant. Will it be in the thousands? There will be a few thousand workers in the cannabis industry.” He added, “We’re going to push to organize as many of those facilities as possible.” The law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana was approved in March, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to launch the regulatory agency to issue licenses to grow and sell cannabis. A Rockefeller Institute study estimated the new weed industry could create 30,000 to 60,000 jobs. Under the new law, firms involved with cultivating, manufacturing, transporting or selling pot will have to have a “labor peace agreement” — enabling unions to organize all workers. Fontano’s union currently represents several hundred workers employed for cannabis that’s produced, distributed and sold for medicinal purposes — but the number of union jobs will grow exponentially when full-scale legalization of marijuana for the adult market is up and running. Local 338 currently has collective bargaining agreements with six different firms with contracts to grow and sell marijuana for medicinal purposes. And it’s negotiating a labor deal with a seventh company as it prepares to represent more pot workers in the recreational market. Workers represented by Local 338 who work at cannabis farms and manufacturing facilities make about $24 per hour. The average pay for workers at retail stores is $19.50 per hour. And pharmacists in the union earn about $65 per hour, which is competitive or even higher than chain drug stores. All of the labor contracts provide family medical coverage that includes dental and vision coverage with no co-premium, which is paid by companies for all full-time workers. Co-pays are $5 and $10 for doctor visits and prescriptions. “These are good-paying jobs with good benefits. The labor movement is always looking for an opportunity to grow. We’re very excited about the growth opportunities in the cannabis industry,” Fontano said. One union member, Cherish Quijano, 35, who works at the Curaleaf medical cannabis dispensary in Forest Hills, was certain the coming recreational marijuana market will provide plentiful jobs to more people like herself. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for jobs in general in the cannabis industry — whether medicinal or recreational. The market is going to expand tremendously,” said Quijano, who also takes medical cannabis to deal with pain after undergoing knee surgeries.  

Union workers get higher pay, if they can join

Reuters A Reuters analysis of two decades of wages for retail workers found that the pay advantage union workers have enjoyed over non-union employees in that sector is increasing. The weekly pay differential between union and nonunion workers widened from $20 in 2013 to more than $50 in 2019, according to the July 9 report. One reason for the widening pay gap is that unionized workers tend to work more hours per week and on a predictable schedule, while non-union workers often have a “variable schedule” that depends on how busy management thinks the store might be. One non-union worker commented in the Reuters report that his employer could increase his hourly rate without actually giving him a “raise” – because the pay increase can be offset by reducing his weekly hours at work. The analysis also further illustrates the connection between the decline of unionization in the United States and rising income inequality, spurred by a major shift in power from workers to corporations and a regulatory regime that leaves workers unprotected against employers' anti-union efforts. Even as signs emerge of a revitalized interest in organizing, the full picture of the state of the labor movement remains bleak Americans view unions more favorably now than they have since 2003, according to a separate Reuters report on May 13. Over 65% approve of unions. And workers won 72% of union elections in the past five years – meaning a majority voted in favor of unionizing. They won nine out of every 10 last year, amid concerns about workplace safety and health that were growing, or newly revealed, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the highest win rate for workers seeking to unionize in a decade.

Labor of love: Gillibrand, Schumer call for passage of ‘Pro Act’ to expand worker rights

amNY New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer are fighting to give a voice to working people through the passage of the Right to Organize (Pro) Act. On June 18, both senators held a press conference in Midtown Manhattan with Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO; Stuart Appelbaum, Executive Vice President of UFCW and President of RWDSU; and Brian Fleurantin, Care Manager in the Health Home Department at Housing Works in Brooklyn to discuss the critical nature of protecting workers’ rights now more than ever. 

U.S. sues Amazon to force recall of dangerous products

MSN Government safety regulators are suing Amazon, looking to hold the world's biggest online retailer accountable for ridding its site of unsafe merchandise sold by third parties. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 3-to-1 to approve the administrative complaint filed against Amazon on Wednesday. It seeks to force the online behemoth to stop selling potentially hazardous items, to work with CPSC staff on recalls and to directly notify and offer refunds to those who purchased them. Amazon, for example, sold more than 24,600 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that failed to activate when the gas was present, and nearly 400,000 hair dryers without mandated devices to protect against shock and electrocution, the CPSC said.