Unions Across America Are Screaming For Paid Sick Leave and Healthcare

As coronavirus spreads, sowing panic and economic dislocation, unions across the country are using the crisis as an opportunity to call for priorities that were dismissed as left-wing fantasies not long ago—and now seem like common sense. read more at In These Times

Covid-19: What you Should Know and How to Protect Yourself

COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS: What you should know about the virus and what you should do to protect yourself. view the flyer here  Updated symptom sheet from WHO (3/13/20)

Download the 2020/2021 RWDSU Scholarship Application

The Al Heaps Memorial Scholarship, open to RWDSU members and their children, is open to applicants.  The deadline is May 30, 2020. Download and print the application here:

NYC IRI Employees Win Local 338 Membership

After learning about union benefits and a campaign that saw employees working closely with Local 338 organizers, workers at Innovative Resources for Independence (IRI) have become the newest members of RWDSU Local 338. With over 300 new members, the successful campaign represents a big victory for Local 338, and most importantly, the workers at IRI. The new members work at locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County. Their employer focuses on working with individuals who are developmentally disabled. The Local 338 members working at IRI work directly with the individuals providing care and support in both group homes and day habilitation facilities. Explaining why he voted to join Local 338, Joshua L. who’s worked at IRI for 11 years as a Direct Support Professional, says “I wanted the union for job security. I spoke with my coworkers about the benefits of having a union and I worked on keeping them informed, because the union benefits all of us.” Currently, Local 338 represents over 1000 members who work for non-profit agencies that care for the developmentally disabled, including IAHD and Community Resources. IRI employees overwhelmingly voted to become members of the RWDSU, noting the success of our union to fairly represent and fight for the benefits these employees deserve.


Union Highlights Constantinides’s Work Fighting to Protect the Rights of Workers   (NEW YORK, NY) – Today, President Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced the union’s endorsement of Costa Constantinides in his bid for Queens Borough President in this Special Election.   “Costa Constantinides knows firsthand what it’s like to work in retail and the benefits of having a union – one of his first jobs was at one of our grocery stores. But more importantly, he has not forgotten about the experience and has been guided by it in his years in office. He has demonstrated a commitment to lifting up working people and has consistently supported our efforts to advance workers’ rights,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Working people need someone in Queens who has the strength and self-determination to speak out for the concerns of working people. He proved that when he stood up to Amazon despite their money and power. We need someone who is not controlled by big money donors but is willing to provide a fresh and independent voice for the community. The RWDSU is proud to endorse Costa for Queens Borough President and we look forward to continuing our work together in the coming years.”   “As someone who put himself through school by working in retail, I am so excited, honored, and humbled to have the support of the RWDSU,” said Costa Constantinides. “We have fought together to protect our retail workers, especially warehouse workers who've been exploited by Amazon in Queens and throughout our City. I look forward to this partnership with Stuart Appelbaum and the RWDSU continuing as Queens Borough President, where I'll never stop fighting for good jobs that provide fair wages, benefits, and a pathway to the middle class.”

Food Workers Union Takes Aim at Amazon's New Cashierless Grocery Store

After years of prototyping, and more years still experimenting with surveillance-based convenience stores, Amazon has officially opened its first cashierless grocery location in its home city of Seattle. One of America’s largest food worker unions is already pissed about it. “Amazon represents a clear and present danger to millions of good jobs,” United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone wrote in a statement Tuesday. “The brutal truth is that Amazon is focused on one thing—eliminating as many jobs as possible to enrich one multi-billionaire, Jeff Bezos.” Read more about it at Gizmodo

Housing Works Staffers Seeking Union Election

Read the article at The Chief 


Employees at a Downtown-based non-profit are asking Uncle Sam to oversee their unionization efforts, after the company’s chief executive refused to recognize a company-wide vote to organize under the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Workers stood before their employer yesterday, with a majority of workers supporting the union; but their so-called progressive employer leaned back and said no to recognizing their union,” said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum. “Charles King is gaslighting his workers when he says he is ‘neutral’, and the workers won’t stand for it any longer.” read more at Brooklyn Paper


(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, a delegation of Housing Works workers formally filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Brooklyn, New York. Despite Housing Works’ every attempt to delay a fair unionization process, workers said enough is enough and filed for a federal election. This filing came less than 24-hours after Housing Works refused to voluntarily recognize the union. On Thursday afternoon, a delegation of workers shared with Housing Works’ leadership that a majority of workers have signed authorization cards allowing the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) to represent them. With a majority of workers in favor of the union, workers asked Housing Works to voluntarily recognize the union so that contract negotiations could commence swiftly around a host of issues workers are facing at the HIV/AIDS non-profit. Housing Works Founder, Charles King, refused to recognize the union. This filing ends a six-month fight by workers to have the progressive non-profit sign on to a neutrality agreement that would have ensured a fair unionization process, rather than what the Trump-led NLRB currently has in place. After several delays by Housing Works, workers had no choice but to file for an election. Late last year, 100+ workers walked out demanding their workplace concerns be heard. It was followed by an elected official delegation visit, and the delivery of a letter signed by nearly 70 elected officials urging the non-profit to sign a neutrality agreement with a fair election process. Workers had hoped that their progressive employer Housing Works would agree to ensure a fair unionization process through a neutral third-party election. After repeated meetings, Housing Works refused to agree to a fair process, leaving workers with no choice but to file with the NLRB. Today, a delegation of workers filed for an election under the NLRB despite potential delays by Housing Works. The union and workers urge Housing Works to agree to an election as swiftly as possible and to let workers vote free of intimidation despite not having a contractual neutrality agreement. “I am incredibly proud of the workers at Housing Works for standing up for their right to have a collective voice. Workers stood before their employer yesterday, with a majority of workers supporting the union; but their so-called progressive employer leaned back and said no to recognizing their union. Today, workers will file for an election, and their employer should stop trying to stand in their way. Charles King is gaslighting his workers when he says he is ‘neutral’, and the workers won’t stand for it any longer. Being neutral means letting workers decide on their own without intimidation from their employer whether they want a union. The workers have demonstrated that they do want a union – and Charles King refuses to accept their decision. That is not being ‘neutral’, said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Brian Grady, Housing Works – Downtown Brooklyn, Housing Coordinator: “I’ve been the Housing Coordinator at Housing Works for over a year and a half. I had high hopes for Housing Works but after working here for a while I’ve found that there is a high turnover because of many structural issues. Low pay, problems with paid time off, and the lack of a living wage at this job are demoralizing for us. With a union, we can fix Housing Works and make it a good place to work.” Maren Hurley, Housing Works – Midtown Manhattan, Reentry Group Facilitators with the SMART Department: “Our clients are concerned at the high turnover rates and the lack of response from management to both staff and clients on this and other concerns. Working for Housing Works is a constant ethical crisis, not only for our wellbeing but also that of our clients, that can and needs to change. We as reentry service providers recognize that we work in a para-military environment, however we do not consent to endangerment of our safety through mishandling of sexual harassment incidents, exposure to extreme temperatures and retaliation by leadership.” Adrian Downing-Espinal, Housing Works – Midtown Manhattan, Harm Reduction/Substance Use Councilor: “It’s demoralizing that an organization with Act Up roots, which is a model for radical organizing would be so against a grass roots union movement. It’s also shocking that it would do business with a ‘union avoidance’ law firm that is the antithesis of progressive values. I came to Housing Works because of the mission and the values of the organization. There is a solid core of workers who are committed to the Housing Works mission, but a lack of will from management to support us in our fight for a union voice.” ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:  For months, workers at Housing Works have raised serious concerns about their workplace environment to management. With conditions only worsening, workers believe that union representation is the best way for them to address their concerns. Workers have described unmanageable caseloads, lack of training, discrimination and harassment, and health and safety issues. Workers have raised concerns about pay and benefits, including that their health insurance doesn’t provide adequate coverage for workers transitioning genders. These workplace issues are central not just to employee welfare, but to client care as well.   Housing Works provides housing assistance, and health and wellness care to thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV+/AIDS, as well as raising funds for its work through a number of book, clothing, and furniture retail thrift stores. Workers believe in the mission of the organization and want the same standard of care for employees as it provides for clients. Housing Works’ actions have thus far shown an anti-union animus and a refusal to be neutral despite claiming otherwise. A signed agreement would have shown a real commitment to neutrality and to an orderly and respectful process. Despite their previous actions workers are urging the non-profit to live up to its progressive principles and allow an NLRB election to move forward without delay so that workers can fully exercise their right to join a union.