We must not forget that as New York City begins re-opening we are Still in the midst of extraordinary challenges. The safety of workers, customers and all New Yorkers must be our primary concern. This includes making sure workers have all the health and safety protections and preventative measures in place in their workplaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But it also means that all New Yorkers must continue to do their part including wearing masks in public, and especially when they are in retail stores. Many of our members are eager to begin the re-opening of the city and going back to work, but they want to do so safely. 


“But workplace protections alone are not enough to ensure safety. We are deeply troubled by the behavior of the police towards protestors since the tragic death of George Floyd. New York City’s retail workforce is incredibly diverse and as we return to work we need to know that all workers will be safe as they come to and from work. That means security in knowing that you will not be targeted by the police for the color of your skin. At this moment that is far from being reality. We cannot and will not rest until each and every New Yorker can live and work in safety. We must make this a city where black lives matter. We must make this a city where workers and all people are respected and protected” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).


The RWDSU believes non-essential businesses need to re-open safely and that means our employers need to ensure workers are safe. That means that our members will need to have:

    • Proper social distancing available in break rooms, bathrooms, during shift entry and exits, and throughout their work day.

    • The proper personal protective equipment.

    • Access to rapid testing.

    • Screening of workers as they enter the workplace.

    • Workers must have adequate break time to wash their hands and put on proper PPE throughout their shift.

    • Workers need to be trained on the new store procedures and safety measures and equipment.

    • Perhaps most critically, when a worker feels sick they must have a real ability to stay home and quarantine. If needed, that means they are paid if they get sick, and that they need access to affordable healthcare. To do so that means capacity in health departments has to be expanded to do effective tracking.

    • To protect workers the general public needs to adhere to preventive measures. It is imperative that customers wear masks in the stores.