NLRB: Offers to collect mail ballots could invalidate union elections

Reuters The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday ruled that unions and employers engage in "objectionable conduct" that could warrant setting aside a union election when they offer to collect and mail ballots on behalf of workers. The four-member board, which has one vacancy, unanimously ruled that solicitation of mail ballots can give the impression that the NLRB is not in complete control of elections, thereby undermining their integrity. But the board rejected claims by Professional Transportation Inc (PTI), which provides crew transportation services to railroads, that union officials tainted a 2020 election by allegedly offering to help two workers fill out and mail their ballots. The ruling could affect a closely watched NLRB case involving a recent union election at an Amazon.com Inc warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, in which workers overwhelmingly voted against unionizing. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union claims Amazon violated federal labor law by installing a mailbox at the facility, which the company says was meant to make it easier for workers to vote.

STATEMENT FROM RWDSU PRESIDENT STUART APPELBAUM ON AMAZON PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2020 Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected]wdsu.org | 347-866-6259 (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Amazon and the National Safety Council announced a partnership to research workplace injuries. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), issued the following statement: “After spending years pushing warehouse workers to work beyond their physical limits, Amazon’s announcement today appears to be just another public relations stunt. Instead, Amazon can and must be doing more to protect its workers.    “This partnership will be meaningless unless Amazon acknowledges and is transparent about workers’ injuries and illness due to ergonomic issues at their facilities – something they have consistently failed to do.  “Day after day Amazon fails to report workplace injuries; and it refuses to allow workers time off when they’re injured or sick.  Instead, we have seen far too many ambulances needed at Amazon warehouses. Workers have been pushed to such extreme limits that they are injured for life, and in some cases workers have even lost their lives working at Amazon. Workers should never have to worry whether they are risking their own health and safety just by reporting to work each day.  “The root cause of this issue is Amazon’s business model of expecting workers to perform like robots at an unbearable and often unattainable pace of work. “Workers need real protection and not just more smoke and mirrors.” # # # 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.

Retailers fear abuse of workers will get worse as COVID slows

The Associated Press/Nexstar News Wire A dozen retailers including Gap and H&M are collaborating on a campaign this fall to enlist customers to combat bad behavior against retail workers. The campaign, spearheaded by nonprofits Open to All and Hollaback as well as the Retail Industry Leaders Association, comes as workers face increased harassment as they try to enforce social distancing and mask protocols during the pandemic. Among those who have been the targets of abuse are people of color, those with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ. Calla Devlin Rongerude, director of Open to All, said the campaign is not asking customers to step in to physically stop altercations, but rather to help de-escalate the situation and show support for workers. Participating retailers will have signage in their stores with QR codes, allowing customers to sign a pledge of support. There will also be a tool kit designed by Hollaback to show how customers can help, including how to create a distraction for the abuser as well as documenting the situation and bringing in someone else to help. Even as the spread of COVID-19 slows, retailers fear abusive behavior will worsen as stores anticipate big crowds for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. With many states and businesses relaxing mask mandates and customers experiencing pandemic fatigue, workers worry about their safety. “There is a lot of ambiguity,” Rongerude said. “People have a lot of fatigue. That is when tempers flare.”

RWDSU ENDORSES MARK MURPHY FOR STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2021 CONTACT: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (STATEN ISLAND, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced its endorsement of Mark Murphy for Staten Island Borough President. "The RWDSU is proud to endorse Mark Murphy for Staten Island Borough President because we know he'll be a strong and reliable voice for working people. Mark believes that when our city invests in jobs that they should be good, union jobs. This is the leadership we want to see from our elected representatives, and it is the reason why the RWDSU will be working hard to ensure Mark Murphy is Staten Island's next Borough President,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).  “The 60,000 essential workers of the RWDSU are the unsung heroes of the past year.  We are forever in their debt for their service during the pandemic and we must repay their bravery with hazard pay. I pledge to use the power and the bully pulpit of the Borough President to protect the right of workers to organize and make sure Staten Islanders have more good paying union jobs that have protections and pensions for workers,” said Mark Murphy, Candidate for Staten Island Borough President. # # # 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 ENDORSES COREY JOHNSON FOR NYC COMPTROLLER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2021 CONTACT: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259 (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced its endorsement of Corey Johnson for New York City Comptroller. The RWDSU has proudly worked side-by-side with Johnson for many years on New York City's most significant legislative issues, contract fights and organizing campaigns. Today’s endorsement is based on years of work together that has improved the lives of countless New Yorkers. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement on the union’s endorsement:  “The RWDSU has proudly worked side-by-side with Corey Johnson for many years. The RWDSU has worked closely with him on many of New York City's most significant legislative and organizing campaigns. He stood with us to protect union jobs by opposing Walmart from entering NYC. He strongly supported living wage laws and on-call scheduling protections for retail workers. He has rallied with Macy's and Bloomingdale's workers seeking fair contracts. More recently, he went toe-to-toe with Amazon and made it clear that companies that receive taxpayer dollars should let their workers organize a union. He also stood in solidarity with 700 Housing Works workers who successfully organized a union with the RWDSU in 2020. The RWDSU stands with Corey Johnson and endorses him for NYC Comptroller because time after time he has stood with our members. We know that we can rely on him to support unions and workers as NYC's next Comptroller.” The RWDSU is committed to supporting candidates in 2021 who will stand up for workers, support good union jobs and represent it’s 45,000 members in the city.  # # # 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.

Rideshare Drivers Gather in NYC in Hopes of Unionizing

Protesters gathered in bright red t-shirts and matching masks bearing the Independent Drivers Guild logo. Placards bearing slogans like “Freeze Hiring, Reactive Workers Now!” and “Unlock Uber” were being handed out at a table toward the entrance. What the gathering lacked in sheer numbers, it made up with enthusiasm. A wide range of speakers approached the podium — IDG members, drivers, local and prospective politicians. Nearly every speech was followed by a spirited call and response from the crowd, culminating in pro-union chants. Previous protests have found drivers opting for other locations — perhaps most notably in 2019, when Brooklyn Bridge traffic toward the mayor’s residence at Gracie Mansion was slowed to a crawl. Today’s location was perfectly suited for such an event. The gathering was framed by the Falchi Building, a large office space in Queens, New York, housing some 36,000 square feet of Uber offices. The neighborhood of Long Island City has long served as an epicenter for the city’s ridesharing operations. Lyft has offices nearby, as does the Taxi Limousine Commission (TLC). Walk down a block or two and you’ll almost certainly stumble across rows upon rows of yellow cabs. The concerns of gig workers are nothing new, of course, but today’s crowd gathered in Long Island City, Queens to add support to a proposed bill currently making its way through the state legislature in Albany. The legislation is designed to make it easy for gig economy workers in the state to unionize. “Currently, the gig workers have no voice in their workplace. No voice to negotiate pay or benefits of workplace policies,” bill sponsor state Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island explained in a recent interview. “And I have been talking about this issue for several years now. The world of work is changing, and labor law has not caught up to technology and how it has changed the world of work.” read more here 

Staten Island Labor Organizers Taking on Amazon File Charges

Commercial Observer Staten Island is not the only place where Amazon workers want to unionize. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which is fighting to represent Amazon fulfillment center workers at BHM1 in Bessemer, Ala., filed objections with the NLRB in April to Amazon’s conduct during their union election, alleging that the e-commerce giant threatened, intimidated, and confused workers ahead of the vote. While employees in the Bessemer warehouse voted in April against unionizing, with only 738 in favor of the 3,215 ballots cast, the election results could be set aside if the NLRB finds that Amazon illegally interfered with the vote, CO previously reported. The RWDSU alleged that Amazon threatened workers through mandatory meetings and emails, saying that unionization would lead to a loss of business at the facility, which could lead to layoffs or a shutdown, and that Amazon changed the timing of a traffic light outside of its warehouse, reportedly to prevent pro-union workers from canvassing while workers were stopped at the light.  The union also alleged that Amazon tried to make it appear that the corporation controlled the election process by placing a ballot collection box in the Amazon parking lot, and pressuring workers to use the Amazon-installed box, which was located within the range of Amazon-owned surveillance cameras. Amazon installed the box, despite the fact the NLRB denied Amazon’s request for a warehouse-based drop box. “The fact is that less than 16 percent of employees at BHM1 voted to join a union,” an Amazon spokesperson previously told CO. “Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda. We look forward to the next steps in the legal process.” The RWDSU has attempted to unionize the Staten Island warehouse, too. In 2018, the union announced its intention to unionize workers to address safety concerns, lengthy unpaid security checks, unreasonable hourly quotas and insufficient breaks, as reported The Verge, but that union hasn’t materialized. 

Was the Union Drive in Bessemer a Net Positive for the Labor Movement? Yes.

In Bessemer, disgruntled employees reached out to a local union that had recently notched some big wins; it was what we in the labor movement call a “hot shop.” And the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union did what it could to control the terrain and timing of the campaign, but existing labor law makes that nearly impossible. Still, organizers should take on these potentially paradigm-shifting struggles wherever they emerge—even if they lose more often than they win. Successful movements grow out of these sorts of failures. We celebrate, for example, the civil rights victories of the Birmingham campaign in 1963 but rarely discuss how the seeds of this success were planted in a failed desegregation campaign two years earlier in Albany, Ga. As the National Labor Relations Board adjudicates the RWDSU’s accusations that Amazon illegally interfered with the vote, we can draw inspiration from the workers in Bessemer and turn their very public loss to labor’s advantage.   Read more here 

Sodus Rehab Worker Shows no Signs of Slowing Down After 46 Years

RWDSU Local 220 Shop Steward Edna DeGelleke (seated) with co-workers Connie Grant (right) and Jolie Hughes. While she’s older than almost all of the residents she cares for, 86-year old Edna DeGelleke, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Sodus Rehab Nursing Home in Sodus, New York, has no plans to retire. “For me, giving patients love and affection is the greatest part of this job. It’s fulfilling taking care of people, and also helping keep residents connected with their families,” DeGelleke said. DeGelleke began working at Sodus in September, 1975, when she began working there full-time after beginning as a volunteer at the then-new facility. And now, despite the fact that most of her co-workers are decades younger than she is, DeGelleke shows no signs of slowing down. The RWDSU union shop steward works 12-hour shifts, six days a week, and has no plans to retire. “I’m in no rush, this job does my heart good and keeps me busy. I think it helps residents here to have someone their age to relate to, and I still love coming to work,” DeGelleke said.  

New Contract for NY Condo Workers

Local 1102 members at 970 Kent Condominium in Brooklyn, New York, recently secured a new contract that improves wages and benefits for the building services workers. The contract brings annual wage benefits for all members, and It also provides improved contributions from the employer to ensure affordability for member health insurance plans. In addition, the membership will benefit from increased contributions to retirement plans thanks to the new contract. For these members, their strong new agreement recognizes their contributions as essential workers during the pandemic. They’ve been there to serve residents at the building throughout the entire COIVD-19 crisis, and will continue their important work with an improved contract.