New Contract for Mass. Sodexo Workers

RWDSU members in Attleboro, Massachusetts, help keep the school system clean so kids can have the best learning environment possible. Local 875 members there perform maintenance in the school system, and now they’ll do it with a new four-year contact with increased wages, 100 percent union insurance, plus longevity bonuses. In addition, members will see an increase in their 401K benefits.

RWDSU President Appelbaum Statement on Macy's and Store Closings

NEW YORK, NY), – Today, Macy’s Inc. held an investor meeting to announce their three-year Polaris Strategy, which includes plans to close 125 retail stores. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which represents workers at several Macy’s stores (including the flagship store at Herald Square in New York City) issued the following statement in response: “The only way to secure jobs and to ensure you can survive a layoff when it happens is to have a union. Too many retail workers don’t have a union. For the thousands of at-will retail workers who lost their jobs this year due to store closures and bankruptcies, a union could have made a difference. “There’s no doubt that technology is changing the retail industry, with store employees being displaced by distribution center workers. But the retail industry had begun a transformation long before the rise of e-commerce. For decades we have seen part-time jobs replace full-time careers in the retail industry. This shift has been accompanied by inadequate hours, unpredictable scheduling, lack of healthcare, and no real path to retirement. Workers have had to work at multiple jobs to just make ends meet. Many retail workers can’t afford to shop in the stores where they work. In addition, inhumane working conditions in massive warehouse facilities are hidden from the public eye. “Unions can ensure workers have protections in place to be able to survive frequent store closures and mass layoffs, as well as improve working conditions for warehouse workers in our shifting retail landscape. Union contracts can ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect when stores close and layoffs happen. Without a union contract, workers have no recourse, and when companies close stores or fold entirely, they’re too often left with nowhere to turn. Our union has continually negotiated contract provisions to ensure workers can earn a living wage, have access to affordable healthcare, part-time employment benefits, job security and a path to retirement. “We agree workers are the real magic of Macy’s stores, and they must be part of the brand’s realignment to the change in the retail industry. Our union has pushed for years for improvements to the customer experience, which includes investments in workers and stores. We will discuss that at the bargaining table in the coming months when we negotiate our new contract,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum on the NYC Council's Passage of a Ban on Cashless Food and Retail Stores

Today, the New York City Council passed a ban on cashless food and retail stores in the city spearheaded by Councilmember Ritchie Torres. Stuart Appelbaum issued the following statement in response: “Forcing customers to use only credit or debit is a discriminatory business model that disadvantages low-income people, people of color, undocumented immigrants and seniors. Communities of color in New York City are more than twice as likely to be unbanked and are far less likely to host a branch of a bank than the national average. This critical bill will ensure everyone can shop or eat at any store in our city. Thanks to the work of Councilmember Torres and the entire New York City Council, this growing exclusionary practice will no longer be permitted in our city,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).


Workers Win Significant Wage Increases and Additional Time Off Today, Local 338 Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU)/United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), announced that the workers at Vireo Health New York have ratified a new 3-year contract. The new contract significantly builds on benefits that were included in the first contract, which was negotiated in 2016. The workers in the bargaining unit work across New York State at the cultivation and processing center, as well as four retail dispensaries. “I am proud to have served on the negotiating committee and have the opportunity to voice the issues that were most important to my co-workers and I. Working with our union, we won many important improvements to our wages and benefits that show that we’ve not only been heard, but that we’re also valued. Knowing that we go to work every day with the protections of a strong union contract is empowering and that helps us provide the best care for our patients,” said Kassan Seisay, Local 338 member working at Vireo Health New York.  “With strong starting salaries for new hires, wage increases for current workers and increased paid time off, the new contract at Vireo Health New York sets a standard for what workers in New York’s medical cannabis industry need and deserve. Our members are dedicated to the patients they serve and provide significant service to the company they work for. Many of them were also active participants in the negotiating process and when workers come together, they can secure strong contracts that ensure fair treatment and respect on the job – which they have successfully done at Vireo,” said Joseph Fontano, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. The Vireo Health New York contract was ratified by the members after months of negotiations and is retroactive to August of 2019.   The Vireo Health New York contract will be in effect for three years and includes critical provisions such as: Annual wage increases over the term of the contract (workers will receive retroactive increases from the expiration of the contract in August 2019.) The hourly rate of pay for members will increase an average of 16% to 25% (based on the members job classification and years of service) over the term of the 3-year agreement.   The union also secured language in the contract that increases the minimum starting rate for new hires. Workers will receive additional paid time off, as well as increased holiday pay. The company will continue to provide workers and their dependents with full medical coverage through the Union’s medical fund at no cost to the workers. through the term of the contract. Vireo Health New York workers are members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW proudly represents more than 13,000 working men and women employed at supermarkets, grocery stores, specialty food stores, assisted living facilities, retail drug stores and pharmacies, and medical cannabis companies across New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York. 

RWDSU Celebrates the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (right) reviews an RWDSU contract with RWDSU Local 3 members employed at Bloomingdale's in New York City in the 1960s. This week, Americans everywhere salute the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Dr. King's legacy has special meaning. We take special pride that, in 1968, the RWDSU was the first union anywhere to negotiate a contract guaranteeing Dr. King's birthday as a paid holiday. The RWDSU was among the earliest supporters of Dr. King's grassroots drive to challenge racial injustice in the South.   In Chicago during the 1960s, RWDSU provided an important forum for Dr. King to speak out against poverty in America's cities.  Later, thousands of RWDSU members stood shoulder to shoulder with other Civil Rights Activists during the historic 1963 March on Washington. Dr. King saw the Civil Rights struggle and the labor movement as closely linked.  He was a constant ally of Union Activists and most have forgotten that Dr. King was in Tennessee to support a Living Wage for Sanitation Strikers on that terrible April day in 1968 when he was slain at the age of 39. Dr. King spoke about the importance of the Labor Movement on many occasions. "Our needs are identical with Labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, and health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect in the community. That is why negroes support Labor's demands and fight laws which curb Labor. That is why the Labor-hater and the Labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth," Dr. King said in a speech in 1961. In reflecting on the life and work of Dr. King, the RWDSU recognizes the fight he began is not over until equality for all is a reality, and it is up to our generation of RWDSU members to complete his mission.  

As business and labor leaders, we agree on this: The U.S. needs to stay in the Paris Agreement

By Stuart Appelbaum and Andrew Liveris As the chairman emeritus and former CEO of Dow Chemical, and the vice president and co-chair of the international committee of one of the most powerful union confederations in the U.S., we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to a vision for how we achieve U.S. economic growth. But we do when it comes to addressing a critical challenge for American workers and businesses: climate change.  We also critically agree that the Paris Agreement provides the U.S. the best, albeit not perfect, framework for addressing the growing climate crisis. This framework allows freedom to pursue a competitive path toward emissions reductions—one that creates American jobs, stabilizes trade, and has a commitment to a just transition at its core. The Paris accord will help ensure American competitiveness and long-term opportunities for our working families into the future. Research from the New Climate Economy has shown that transitioning to a low-carbon future by 2030 holds a $26 trillion economic prize globally. Reaching that requires policies, aligned with the agreement’s framework, that allow companies to set and deliver on ambitious climate targets. read the entire piece at Fortune


“Car wash workers for years have struggled in New York to survive on sub-minimum wages. We applaud the Governor for taking today’s action. It will go a long way to remove one of the sources of wage theft that have been endemic in that industry,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). 


Union Contract Securing 5-Weeks of Vacation for Senior Members Ratified Overwhelmingly by Workers (NEEDHAM, MA) – Today, Local 513 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that nearly 400 workers at the Coca-Cola Northeast facility in Needham, MA have ratified a strong new union contract. The worker led negotiation committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong contract that guarantees annual wage increase, secures the union health plan, and adds additional vacation time for senior workers, among many other provisions. The workers in the bargaining unit handle production of Coca-Cola vending machines as well as product delivery services.  Continue reading


Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced that the workers at McNally Jackson Bookstores have voted to join the union. Now workers will head to the bargaining table to secure fair treatment in the workplace, and fair compensation first union contract. “We’re proud to welcome the workers of McNally Jackson into our union. Tonight, they showed that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “I’m proud to say I’m now part of the RWDSU. Workers across all five stores face issues of harassment at work, favoritism, and lack of dignity and respect. By coming together, we are stronger, and I am confident we can shape our workplace into a place we all want to come to work each day. It’s about time McNally Jackson workers had a real seat at the table with the company and we’re ready to get to work on our first contract,” said Kathryn Harper, McNally Jackson Williamsburg Bookstore worker. The vote to unionize by workers at McNally Jackson was conducted on December 12, 2019. RWDSU will represent approximately 90 workers at McNally Jackson’s five New York City locations including three bookstores and two Goods For The Study stationery stores in contract negotiations. The workers in the bargaining unit handle sales, events, stocking and information services in the stores. More news about contract negotiations will be shared when available. Worker’s Workplace Issues Include: We need to be properly compensated for our input and dedication to McNally Jackson: We need better wages. The Tipped Minimum Wage is not enough for barista workers and fluctuating take-home pay leads to financial stress. Workers sometimes have their pay cut if moved into a different position with no notice. We should be paid in a timely manner. We should be paid overtime pay for overtime work as per New York State Law. We need better structures in our workplace: Too often things are done informally, and roles are not always clearly defined. Clearer guidelines about things like how we access our benefits, transfer between stores, etc. are needed. Favoritism is a problem at our workplace: We need more defined positions at work. There should be standard pay scales for certain positions at our store.


Nearly 400 workers in Needham, Massachusetts Set to Ratify New Contract Just in Time for the Holidays (NEEDHAM, MA) – Today, Local 513 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), announced that nearly 400 workers at the Coca-Cola Northeast facility in Needham, MA have reached a tentative contract agreement with the company. The worker-led negotiation committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong tentative agreement that guarantees annual wage increases among many other critical provisions. The committee will strongly recommend workers vote in favor of this agreement. The contract could be ratified just before Christmas Eve. The workers in the bargaining unit handle production of Coca-Cola vending machines as well as product delivery services. Needham, MA Coca-Cola Northeast workers are members of Local 513 of the RWDSU, which also represents workers across the region at other Coca-Cola and Pepsi facilities as well as at Canteen Vending Co., which supplies and delivers both snacks and beverages. This announcement comes on the heels of a strong contract secured by these members at Pepsi earlier this year. The RWDSU has continuously secured strong contracts across the country in food processing and distribution among many other industries. Today’s tentative agreement is another win by members of the RWDSU. The ratification vote of the Coca-Cola Northeast contract is scheduled for Sunday, December 22, 2019. News on the ratification vote and more details on the contract will be shared on Monday, December 23, 2019. The negotiations committee expects it will be overwhelmingly ratified. If ratified, the Coca-Cola Northeast contract will be in effect for four years and includes critical provisions such as: Annual general hourly wage increases over the term of the contract. Additional vacation time for senior members, and early retirement options. There were numerous improvements to the contract language, which will help workers on the job and with work-life balance. “I have worked shoulder to shoulder with many members who will be covered under this new contract, not just in the negotiations room, but on the floor of this very Coca-Cola Northeast facility. I know firsthand how much a strong contract helps the hard-working families in our community and I am proud of the work we did here. Coca-Cola treats its workers with dignity and respect in Massachusetts. They have shown that being a responsible employer here makes a real difference,” said Tina Buonaugurio, Executive Vice President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and President of the New England Joint Board of the RWDSU. “When you can come home to your family knowing that you have a steady job, with a strong union contract it makes your life stable. I worked at this facility for 29 years and I know the feeling of having a new contract. What makes this tentative agreement even better is that workers will go into the holiday season knowing they have a strong union contract, and that will make their holidays that much merrier,” said Phil D’Arcangelo, Secretary-Treasurer of the New England Joint Board of the RWDSU.