Get on the Bus for OBAMA!

    There are just 19 days until Election Day and we need your help to make sure voters get to the polls and GET OUT THE VOTE for President Obama.  

    The RWDSU is organizing trips from New York to the Keystone State to knock on doors with the AFL-CIO and UFCW.  We’ll be headed down on October 27th and November 3rd, leaving from NYC in the morning and returning that evening.  Transportation and lunch are free for volunteers.  

    This election is coming down to the wire, and that’s why passionate New Yorkers are heading over to talk with Pennsylvanians about the important choice they have in this election, and to ask them to support President Obama and other Democrats when they go to the polls on November 6th.

    Reserve your seat here and tell a friend!  More information on exact times and departure location will be provided upon confirming your attendance.

    All are welcome—Bring your parents, spouse, siblings or friends.

    Join us as we fight to deliver another four years to President Obama!

    • 2 years ago

    Workers Rally on Upcoming Day of Action July 24th

    Low-wage workers, struggling to make ends meet in New York City, will rally together with community leaders and union organizers on July 24 for a “Day of Action.”

    Labor heavyweights, including 32BJ Service Employees International Union and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), have embarked on aggressive efforts to organize workers at car washes, supermarkets and area airports.

    United NY — a union-backed community group — is helping coordinate the afternoon event which starts with a press conference at Herald Square, followed by a march to Union Square and a rally.

    “Increasing wages for low-wage workers is crucial for real recovery in New York,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “It makes economic sense that low-wage workers do better. Every penny they get they are going to spend.”

    According to United NY, the average minimum-wage worker makes just $15,000 a year.

    And those who work in the service industry often see their tips stolen by employers and bosses.

    “We want to raise awareness that increasing the minimum wage makes a real difference in the lives of working people,” said Héctor Figueroa, the secretary-treasurer of 32BJ SEIU. “This is what labor unions should really be about.”

    James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute used some stark statistics to paint a picture of low-wage New York.

    The number of New Yorkers making less than $10 an hour jumped from 16.4% in 1990 to 18.5% in 2010.

    But when you take into account the size of the city’s workforce, the number of workers making less than $10 an hour increased by 42%, Parrott said.

    “It starts with raising the minimum wage but it doesn’t stop there,” said Figueroa. “People need to secure health insurance and retirement benefits.”

    While higher-wage jobs have been disappearing, lower-wage jobs — such as retail positions and home health aides — are on the upswing.

    Parrott said since mid-2008 — the start of the recession — low-wage sectors have added over 100,000 jobs.

    On the other hand, middle-wage sectors (jobs where people make between $45,000 and $75,000 a year) lost a net of 42,000 jobs. Higher-wage sectors lost 11,000 jobs.

    “People are really hurting in this city,” said Appelbaum. “People are going to work at honest jobs and they are still condemned to a life of poverty.”

    “I think it’s significant that we are all coming together and saying the problem is so large the solution has to be one that deals with all low-wage workers,” he said. “And the best way to deal with that is union contracts.”


    • 2 years ago

    Support the Con Ed workers in New York!

    Today the New York State AFL-CIO is spreading the word that Kevin Burke, CEO of Con Edison, is locking out workers, cutting off healthcare for workers families and putting the public at risk during a heatwave with unskilled replacement workers. Sign the petition to support these workers:

    • 2 years ago

    Workers Beset By Wage Theft, Advocates Say

    With companies trying to boost profits in a slow economy, and budget-cuts at state and local government agencies that are supposed to enforce labor laws, wage theft has become a big problem for many low-wage workers. Wage theft can take many forms, including stolen tips, illegally low pay, or failure to pay overtime.

    An article in Quad Cities Online examines the cost of wage theft, and legislative action to fight it.

    • 2 years ago

    Workplace Policies Can Help Working Mothers ‘Have It All’ By Not ‘Losing It All’

    Our guest blogger is Kimberly Ortiz, an organizer for the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union and a member of the Retail Action Project.

    Two years ago, I sat in the ER with my two-year-old Aiden, who had a double ear infection. Though I’d been working as a manager at the Statue of Liberty gift shop for five years, we didn’t have health insurance, I only made $9.25 an hour, and I didn’t get a single paid sick day. Knowing I wasn’t “allowed” to be sick or have a sick child, I called my boss in a panic.

    I was told she couldn’t guarantee there would be no repercussions.

    Aiden was sick for four days, crying in pain as his fever raged on. Back at work I was written up and “cautioned” even after submitting doctor’s notes. Those four days were all unpaid, so I had to borrow money from friends, family, and neighbors for diapers and food. As long as we have basic necessities, I know how to make do with nothing else.

    Balancing childcare, rent, chronic conditions, and my job as a single mother living in the Bronx can be nearly impossible. As Ellen Bravo wrote in response to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” I worried about losing it all, not ‘having it all.’

    While I identify with Ms. Slaughter’s insanely busy days, I disagree with her statement that “We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart.” I’m newer to the world of the politics of work-life balance, but I know that we can’t just rely on our elected officials to change the lives of women like me.

    Low-wage women workers need to have a greater voice in the conversation. There are far more women working hourly jobs facing issues of limited advancement than “top women leaders” like Anne Marie Slaughter. And we’re less worried about “having it all” than in achieving a job and schedule that can sustain a family.

    By providing sick leave, paid family leave, protections so caregivers have opportunities to advance, and scheduling with enough notice to arrange childcare, and by requiring part-time parity in health insurance benefits, we can prevent working caregivers from feeling like we could lose it all at any time.

    This Mother’s day, I found myself speaking on a Senate Congressional panel about my experiences and these solutions, because I’m committed to getting what I deserve for my children and other women like me. And I couldn’t have felt like a better mom.

    • 2 years ago

    New York Daily News: City Council votes to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of New York City living wage bill

    The Council voted 46-5 for the measure, which would boost pay to $11.50 an hour, or $10 with benefits, for workers at companies that receive $1 million or more in city subsidies.

    The City Council voted to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the city living wage bill Thursday - setting up a legal battle.

    The Council voted 46-5 for the measure, which would boost pay to $11.50 an hour, or $10 with benefits, for workers at companies that receive $1 million or more in city subsidies.

    Bloomberg has vowed to sue to block the bill from taking effect, saying it unfairly interferes with the free market and will get in the way of economic development projects that could create jobs.

    "I don’t understand why the mayor would sue, but if he sues, we’ll defend the bill, and if we defend the bill, we will win," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

    The bill was watered down from its original version, but backers estimate it will cover 900 workers a year.

    “Working people are struggling, and we’re making an important statement that when public money is going to private developers, the public has to get something in return,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

    The Council also voted to override Bloomberg’s veto of a bill that would require banks vying for city deposits to report on their lending efforts in poor neighborhoods.

    The body also approved a $68.5 billion budget deal, which reversed threatened cuts to child care, after school programs, and fire companies.

    Lawmakers also passed a plan to restrict storefronts on parts of the upper West Side to 40 feet wide, and banks to 25 feet.

    • 2 years ago

    New York Post: Mike Wage Veto Nixed

    The City Council last night overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of a “living-wage bill” that mandates private companies taking taxpayer subsidies to increase workers’ salaries.

    The legislation requires companies collecting at least $1 million in discretionary city subsidies to pay their workers $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 without.

    Bloomberg intends to sue.

    “This is an important moment for our city’s democracy and economy,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which choreographed the bill’s passage.

    • 2 years ago

    Associated Press: City Council overrides Bloomberg's living wage veto

    NEW YORK — The New York City Council voted Thursday to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a living wage bill.

    The Council approved the override on Thursday by a 46-5 vote.

    The controversial legislation requires direct recipients of at least $1 million in city subsidies to pay their workers at least $10 an hour plus benefits, or $11.50 without benefits.

    Bloomberg has said he would sue if the council overturned his objection.

    The bill is expected to go into effect in 90 days.

    Also on Thursday, the City Council voted to approve a $68.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year that avoids tax hikes and major layoffs and restores funds for child care programs.

    Prior to the vote, Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the budget a “victory for families of all different incomes.”

    • 2 years ago

    Labor Notes: In Alabama Poultry Workers Victory, A Vote to Stick Together

    A racially mixed workforce in an Alabama poultry plant defeated management’s attempts to exploit their diversity, turning aside the divide-and-conquer tactics and voting in the union.

    Scoring the largest union victory in the right-to-work state of Alabama in a decade, 1,200 Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant workers voted union overwhelmingly June 12 in the small town of Russellville.

    The workers, who are 20 percent Latino, 40 percent black, and 40 percent white, voted 706-292 to join the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, a division of the Food and Commercial Workers. The victory comes after three previous attempts by UFCW.

    RWDSU organizer Randy Hadley said the company used “the language barrier to divide the Latino Spanish speakers from the white and black English speakers. Threatening folks with plant closings, firings, telling one group of workers one thing and another group something completely different.”

    Read the full story from Labor Notes.

    • 2 years ago

    Statement from RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum on Living Wage Veto Override

    Below is the statement, as prepared for delivery, that Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, will make at the living wage veto override press conference at City Hall at 11 a.m.


    Good morning. I’m Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW.

    It’s great to be here, with so many friends and allies, including Councilman Oliver Koppell and other members of the City Council.

    We’ve come a long way together.

    We have stuck together, fought together, and we have won together - despite the powerful challenges we have faced.

    We have built a citywide movement, a powerful people’s movement, in which countless New Yorkers have said no to poverty-wage jobs and yes to living wage jobs.

    We should all be incredibly proud of that. And I know that I’m personally so proud that my union, the RWDSU, has played a leading role in this fight from day one.

    We stand together today to deliver a message to Mayor Bloomberg:

    The will of the people will not be denied! Get ready for a veto override!

    We stand together to claim an important victory for democracy.

    By overriding Mayor Bloomberg’s veto, the City Council is siding with the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who want this legislation to move forward.

    We stand together with the City Council in saying:

    The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act will be implemented!

    New Yorkers have made their voices heard: they want government to invest in more living wage jobs. There is broad and diverse agreement that investing in a higher-wage economy is good for business, good for working people, and good for our economy.

    The living wage movement, the RWDSU, New Yorkers across the city – all of us - are committed to ensuring that working people no longer live in poverty. That’s our shared vision for the future, and this legislation can help us make it a reality.

    Thank you!

    • 2 years ago
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