News and Updates
September 25, 2017
On Sept. 14, about 100 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 who work in the women’s shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue’s iconic flagship store in New York City ratified a new contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. This hard-fought victory is not only a win for members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that because of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously planned nationwide implementation.
Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.
“I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, a Saks sales representative and Local 1102 shop steward and executive board member. “In all my years at Saks, never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”
“I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members, and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”
September 11, 2017
The three-year contract includes big pay increases of 15 to 22 percent over the course of the agreement. Workers will also receive an extra half day of paid time off for Christmas Eve, an allowance for safety shoes and uniforms, and a fourth week of vacation earned in less time. An important win was moving workers into the RWDSU/UFCW health plan, which New England Joint Board President Tina Buonaugurio said,“saves workers significantly, giving them even more of a raise.”
“Sodexo is well known for their anti-union tactics, but workers stood together and won big,” Buonaugurio added.
August 28, 2017
These workers stuck together through six weeks of anti-union rhetoric. The anti-union campaign included management bringing in union-busting “consultants” to shut down the organizing drive. Despite these anti-union tactics, the workers were undaunted in their desire to make their jobs better by winning a union voice in the workplace.
April 17, 2017
RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 members who work as drivers for the Gateway shuttle bus in Newark, N.J., ratified their first union contract earlier this month. The shuttle bus drivers joined RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 last year to improve their pay and treatment, and the new contract provides raises, added vacation time, and more overtime opportunities.
“The Gateway Company has grown and become very profitable over the years, and workers deserved the improvements they are getting with their first contract,” said RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr.
April 10, 2017
On April 5, 102 workers at Nestlé’s logistics and shipping center in McDonough, Ga., voted to join the RWDSU/UFCW for a voice and fair treatment in the workplace. The workers, who handle shipping and logistics for Nestlé, as well as food product packaging, and truck and train loading at the facility, were concerned about job security and fair wages.
“These workers have been through a lot in the past few months both personally and at work and it is time that their voices are heard and that they are treated both respectfully and fairly by Nestlé,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU/UFCW. “Nestlé’s workers deserve a strong union voice at the bargaining table, and we are proud to be representing the 102 workers in McDonough as we work to secure a fair contract.”
The team at the Southeast Council of the RWDSU/UFCW worked tirelessly through natural disasters in the area, and in a politically challenging climate, to win the opportunity to represent the workers at Nestlé.
“The people of Georgia are fighters, and the workers at Nestlé here in McDonough are a force to be reckoned with – and I could not be prouder to represent them,” said Edgar Fields, president of the Southeast Council, RWDSU/UFCW. “Neither union busting efforts, or floods and gale-force winds, could deter these workers from defending their right to organize and now it’s our turn to fight for them. We are ready.”
March 13, 2017
Over 100 RWDSU/UFCW members employed at New York City car washes attended a meeting on March 8 which focused on immigrant rights and how immigrant workers can protect themselves during the increasingly hostile Trump era. Consulate officials from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Ecuador, as well as representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and community groups Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change, discussed how immigrants should act if approached by immigration officials and how they can get legal help, if needed.
The RWDSU/UFCW’s Car Wash Campaign has worked for more five years to clean up the car wash industry and improve conditions for the workers, who are known as “carwasheros.” Workers at 10 shops have voted to join the RWDSU/UFCW and have won contracts.
For workers, it is proving to be an uncertain time.
“We come to this country in search of a better future for our families. We are good people, we do nothing but work honestly. President Trump should give us a chance and not be so hard on us,” said Simon Salvador, who has been working as a carwashero in Brooklyn for the past 15 years.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum affirmed the union’s commitment to fighting for carwasheros and all immigrant workers.
“The U.S. labor movement has a moral obligation to defend working women and men and their families, regardless of their immigration status,” Appelbaum said.
March 6, 2017
On March 3, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum spoke at a rally in front of New York City Hall in support of Intro. 1387, legislation that will ban on-call scheduling practices in the retail industry. On-call scheduling disrupts workers’ lives by requiring them to be available to work certain hours even if they are not scheduled to work and won’t get paid. Appelbaum also testified at the New York City Council’s hearing in support of the ban.
“On-call scheduling is a pervasive and exploitive employment practice where workers do not find out until just before a scheduled shift if they will be required to work or not,” Appelbaum said. “On-call scheduling is devastating for retail workers. You need to put your life on hold and be available for work – regardless of whether you will be called-in or paid. If you are a part-time worker, the uncertainty of your schedule means you can’t arrange for a needed second job. If you are a parent, you don’t know if you are going to need child care. If you want to continue your schooling, you can’t sign up for classes without knowing your availability.”
“Today’s hearings are a critical first step in helping workers gain more control over their own lives and their ability to earn a living,” Appelbaum added. “I urge the city council to pass Intro. 1387 swiftly.”
November 29, 2016
On Nov. 10, Quaker Oats workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who are members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 110, ratified a new contract.
The new three-year agreement includes a $1,500 signing bonus and yearly wage increases. The contract also calls for improvements to the vacation eligibilities, implements day-at-a-time vacation usage, and includes a vacation bonus for members with over 25 years of service.
The contract also restricts the company from requiring overtime on weekends, and improves the new hire progression rates so that some employees will receive wage increases from $1.91 an hour to $2.46 an hour depending on their time in the progression right away. Improvements were also made to the Short Term Disability Benefits and the Shoe and Clothing Allowances, and to the Perfect Attendance bonus.
November 15, 2016
On Nov. 10, 15 maintenance workers employed at Colonnade Apartments in Newark, N.J., voted overwhelmingly to join RWDSU/UFCW Local 108.
The workers were concerned about low pay, health and safety issues, and the lack of retirement benefits. Workers were also concerned about being paid for all of the hours they worked.
“I am happy we voted the union in to represent us,” said Pedro Parada, a porter at Colonnade Apartments. “We need someone to fight for our rights and to be there when we need help. The company has been doing whatever they want to us.”
“I feel happy that we now have a union,” said Elva Rodriguez, who works as a janitor at Colonnade Apartments. “I am thankful for them being there for us. I know they are going to help and care for us.”
“This was truly a needed victory,” said Abraham Asabor, an organizer with RWDSU/UFCW Local 108. “This small group of workers are expected to be Jack-of-all-trades. They not only keep the building clean, they are required to do building and apartment upkeep, painting, plumbing, AC and heating and apartment clean outs.”
“They are required to be on call and they are not properly compensated,” Asabor added. “To add insult to injury, they are treated with disrespect and paid low wages. This is the second building we have organized in the past month and the problems are similar. We will fight hard to make sure these workers receive better working conditions.”
“Most importantly, these workers weren’t being treated with any respect, and they wanted to change that,” said RWDSU/UFCW Local 108 President Charles N. Hall, Jr.
November 7, 2016
RWDSU/UFCW members traveled from New York City to Philadelphia to help get out the vote on Nov. 5. RWDSU/UFCW members reminded voters in the City of Brotherly Love that Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and helped them find their polling places. The activists reminded voters about the importance of this election, and how crucial it is that workers have a president who shares their concerns in the White House.
You can watch a video about the get out the vote effort here.