Stuart Appelbaum became President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on May 1, 1998. He was reelected in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
He also currently serves as an Executive Vice-President of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Appelbaum previously served as International Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President, Executive Board Member, Assistant to the President and Coordinator of Special Projects for the RWDSU.
Appelbaum is a Vice-President of the national AFL-CIO and a member of the federation’s Executive Council, where he co-chairs the federation’s International Affairs Committee. He also currently serves as a vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO, and a member of its Executive Committee.
Appelbaum is a member of the Democratic National Committee where he serves on the DNC’s Executive Committee and co-chairs the DNC's Resolutions Committee. He also serves as the Chair of the DNC Labor Council. Appelbaum served as a delegate to the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions and an alternate delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention. He served as a member of the Electoral College from New York in 2008, 2016 and 2020.
He serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store International Union and Industry Benefit Funds.
Appelbaum is the President of the Jewish Labor Committee; and he is a member of the Executive Council of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He is also a board member of the Latino Victory Fund.
He is an officer of two global union federations: IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations) and UNI (Union Network International). Appelbaum is President of UNI Global Commerce (representing 160 unions and 4 million workers worldwide).
He is a Vice President of the Consortium for Worker Education.
Appelbaum was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the Regional Economic Development Council for New York City, where he serves on the Executive Committee.
Appelbaum previously served as Chief House Counsel of the Democratic National Committee. He also previously worked for the Michigan State AFL-CIO and as Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the State of Connecticut.
Appelbaum is a summa cum laude graduate of Brandeis University, where he was named a Louis Dembitz Brandeis Scholar and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. He is a member of the bar of the State of Connecticut. Appelbaum resides in New York City with his husband, Michihito Osawa.