Organize for Strength by dffhrtcv3

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									                     UFCW

WINTER 2010        RECORD           Vol. 57, No. 3




                      Organize
                      for Strength
                              Page 8




   www.rwdsu.org                Printed in the USA
            2       Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




                                                     RD
                          RECO                                                                                           M E S S AG E F RO M
                      THE
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                                                  ......... 3                                                            YO U R O F F I C E R S
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RWDSU                           .. .........                                                                    President                             Secretary-Treasurer
                      n .......                       .... 8-1
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             r Unio                        .........
                                                                                                                Stuart Appelbaum                           Jack Wurm Jr.
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                            h.
                   trengt                                 11-12
           e for S                              ........
  O rganiz                            es .....
                          tter Liv                        ...... 13
                for Be                         .........
   Barg aining                       ople ..
                          ing Pe                                 -15
                r Work                                 ..... 14
    AV oice fo                           n  ers ....
                              ip Win                          ..... 16
                     olarsh                         .........
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                      Safety

                                                                             Organizing the Unorganized:
      Hea  lth and




                                                                             It’s Your Fight, Too
            (ISSN 0033-7196)

            Published by the
            RETAIL, WHOLESALE & DEPT. STORE UNION, UFCW

            30 East 29 Street




                                                                             “O
            New York, N.Y. 10016
            212-684-5300
                                                                                                 rganize the unorganized” is a slogan as old   RWDSU members working for private business, but also for
            Stuart Appelbaum                                                                     as the labor movement itself. It conjures     those working in the public sector who are now at greater risk
            President
                                                                                                 up images of devoted activists working        than ever of losing their jobs to low-wage contractors.
            Jack Wurm Jr.
            Sec.-Treasurer                                                                       selflessly to help others win the dignity            To do our part to organize the unorganized, the
            Amelia Tucker                                                    and respect that can only come with a union contract. It’s an     RWDSU is making a major investment in building our
            Recorder
                                                                             inspiring picture, but it only tells part of the story.           organizing muscle. As you’ll read in this issue of the Record
            Lenore Miller
            President Emeritus                                                                                                                 we’ve made a special commitment to organize in the Midwest
            RWDSU RECORD                                                                                                                       where soaring unemployment is having a devastating effect
            Official Publication of the Retail, Wholesale &
            Department Store Union, UFCW                                     As we enter a new year and a                                      on union strength in every industry. But we can’t only expand
                                                                                                                                               our commitment to organize in the U.S.; the RWDSU has to
            Produced by RWDSU
            Communications Department
            Editor, Stuart Appelbaum
                                                                             new decade, we in the labor                                       grow in Canada, too.
                                                                                                                                                      It’s a fact that, thanks to its more progressive labor
            Associate Editor, Levi Nayman
            Assistant to the President, Dave Mertz                           movement have a decision                                          laws, union density in Canada is roughly 30 percent: more
                                                                                                                                               than twice as high as it is in the U.S. But it’s also true that,
            The objectives of the Retail, Wholesale and Department
            Store Union are to unite into this organization all workers
            employed in its jurisdiction in order to advance and
                                                                             to make: either we cross our                                      in the 1980s, Canadian union density stood at 38 per cent.
                                                                                                                                               If we’re going to keep the Canadian labor movement strong
            safeguard their economic and social welfare…The Retail,
            Wholesale and Department Store Union will strive to
            preserve democratic processes, protect civil liberties, aid in
                                                                             fingers and hope the problem                                      our union will need to keep building on the gains we’ve
                                                                                                                                               made in Ontario—and, of course, other unions will need to
                                                                             will go away, or we solve it by
            the adoption of legislation which will promote the economic
            and social welfare of its members and that of labor in                                                                             do the same.
            general and to improve the educational, social and cultural

                                                                             organizing the unorganized.
            standards of society as a whole. Through unity of purpose
            and action, through collective bargaining and legislation, the
            Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is dedicated

                                                                             The choice is clear.
            to the ideal of making the jobs of its members the best jobs
            that can be devised from the point of view of wages, hours
            of work, physical conditions and human relations. Preamble
                                                                                                                                            It doesn’t matter whether
            RWDSU Constitution.
                                                                                                                                            you work in retailing, food
                                                                                     The truth is that when unions organize the unorganized
            The RWDSU RECORD is published quarterly by the
            Retail, Wholesale & Dept. Store Union, UFCW, 30 E. 29
                                                                             they’re not just helping those workers, they’re also winning   processing, health care,
            Street, New York, N.Y. 10016-7925. Subscription price:           better lives for men and women who already have union
            $3.00. Postmaster: Send address changes to RWDSU
            RECORD at 30 E. 29 Street, New York, N.Y. 10016-                 contracts. How? Because having more members adds up to         manufacturing—or any
            7925. Periodical postage paid at New York, N.Y. and              more power at the bargaining table.
            additional mailing offices.
                                                                                     It’s a fact: When the labor movement represents        other industry—everyone
            PUBLICATIONS MAIL                                                only a small share of workers, unionized employees are
            AGREEMENT NO. 40032798
            RETURN UNDELIVERABLE                                             put in the position of having to “compete” with non-union      has a stake in seeing to it
            CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO:                                           workers. That’s why the problem with Wal-Mart isn’t just
            PO Box 503, RPO West Beaver Creek
            Richmond Hill ON L4B 4R6                                         that its workers are forced to live on crummy wages; it’s      that all workers have union
                                                                             that those crummy wages and benefits eventually become
                                                                             the norm within the industry.                                  representation.
                          Change of Address                                         However, the opposite is also true: When most workers
                           New Address (Please print)                        in an area earn good, union wages, it raises the bar and has
                                                                             the effect of improving paychecks for everyone.                           A generation ago reporters often asked AFL-CIO
              Name
                                                                                    As we enter a new year and a new decade, we in the         President George Meany whether he was worried about
              Street                                                         labor movement have a decision to make: either we cross our       the decline in union membership. He’d usually shrug his
                                                                             fingers and hope the problem will go away, or we solve it by      shoulders and say it didn’t bother him one bit since unions
              City
                                                                             organizing the unorganized. The choice is clear.                  could still negotiate good contracts. Sadly, Meany was
              State/Prov. Zip/Postal Code                                           The bottom line is that either the wages of non-union      wrong. Today we know that the economic security of every
                                                                             workers go up, or the wages of RWDSU members go down.             RWDSU family hinges on our ability to help others win the
              Union Local No.
                                                                             That’s why it doesn’t matter whether you work in retailing,       same wages and benefits our members do. In that sense,
              Please enclose old address label from this issue               food processing, health care, manufacturing—or any other          organizing the unorganized is as much for your benefit as it
              of the Record. Please send this form at least two              industry—everyone has a stake in seeing to it that all workers    is for theirs. ■
              weeks before moving to:
                              RWDSU RECORD                                   have union representation. That’s not only critical for
                             30 East 29th Street
                            New York, N.Y. 10016
                                                                                                                                                          wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 3




Building the Union Takes Center Stage at
RWDSU Executive Board Meeting
A
             t the RWDSU Executive Board          the city. We are working with
             Meeting held December 1-3, the       community groups, religious
             focus was placed on increasing       organizations and elected officials
             the strength of the union, and       to create living wage jobs and to
organizing and political strategies that can      give workers the opportunity to
help make this a reality. The board also          organize,” Eichler said.
discussed the economic downturn and the                   RWDSU Organizer Carrie
effect it is having on working families.          Gleason spoke about the work
        “Even though times are tough for          of the RWDSU’s Retail Action
working people, we have an opportunity to         Project (RAP), which is helping
reach them,” said RWDSU President Stuart          bring workers in New York City
Appelbaum as the meeting opened. “Now             a union voice.
is our moment. What we do will have an                     “Through RAP we reach                                                                   Above: (left to right) RWDSU Secretary Treasurer
impact on every member of this union and          out to retail workers and get them                                                               Jack Wurm, President Stuart Appelbaum, and UFCW
the future of the middle class.”                  involved,” Gleason said, while                                                                   President Joe Hansen. Left: RWDSU Organizer
                                                                                                                                                   Joseph Dorismond (right) and Northern Joint Council
        According to UFCW President Joe           describing some of the innovative                                                                President and RWDSU Vice President Derik McArthur
Hansen the RWDSU is doing important               approaches that RAP has used                                                                     (left) were among those giving organizing reports to
                                                                                                                                                   the executive board.
work by following the “path of organizing.”       like the Common Threads art
        “I am optimistic about the future.        project and how RAP members
                                                                                                   Mid-South Council President and RWDSU              are trying to help workers deal with the
The union is focusing on growth, and by           have been supportive of the union’s efforts
                                                                                                   Vice President Henry Jenkins and Alabama           economy politically, including efforts
meeting the challenge of organizing we are        to organize.
                                                                                                   and Mid-South Council Secretary-Treasurer          to push for a jobs creation program, the
becoming a better union,” Hansen said.                    According to Vice President
                                                                                                   John Whitaker, the union mobilized political       Employee Free Choice Act, and health care
                                                  and Southeast Council President Tom
Focus on Organizing                               Stuffflebean, shop stewards are an important
                                                                                                   and community support and pressured the
                                                                                                   banks funding Meadowcraft to keep the
                                                                                                                                                      legislation that helps working families.
                                                                                                                                                              Assistant to the RWDSU President
Strategies                                        part of keeping the union strong in the right-
                                                  to-work south.
                                                                                                   company open longer. During that time a            David Mertz gave an update on the House
Board members from all areas of the union                                                          buyer was found for part of the operation          and Senate health care bills.
                                                          “We are proud of their work,”
reported on the organizing efforts in their                                                        saving some 400 jobs.                                      “We have a real opportunity to reform
                                                  Stufflebean said. “They are the face of
regions, and new strategies and initiatives                                                                 Vice Presidents Frank Bail (Local         our current system. But unless we all get
                                                  the union for most members, and they are
being used in the drive to strengthen the                                                          1102 president), Ken Bordieri (Local               involved and make an effort to reach out to
                                                  often the most effective at conveying how
union were the main topic of the discussion.                                                       1-s president) and Ida Torres (Local 3             our members of Congress and demand real
                                                  important it is for everyone that the union is
        RWDSU Vice President and                                                                   president), whose locals represent thousands       reform we may end up with a bill that does
                                                  strong in the workplace.”
Director of Field Services Randy Belliel                                                           of retail workers, reported on the toll that       not address workers’ needs,” Mertz said.
and RWDSU Representative Allen Mayne              Working Families                                 the economy has had on members in the
                                                                                                   retail industry.
                                                                                                                                                              Member of Parliament from Sudbury
                                                                                                                                                      (and New Democratic Party member) Glenn
introduced the union’s new organizing
project in the Midwest, which provides
                                                  and Today’s Economy                                       “It has been a tough year, but            Thibeau told the board the Canadian health
a structure for members to connect their          The board discussed the experiences              we have done what we can to protect                care system has been beneficial for Canadians.
friends, family, and acquaintances who need       of working people during this difficult          members interests and hope that we will see                “The Canadian health care system
a union voice with RWDSU organizers (see          economy, and how union activists are             improvements in the economy that lift retail       works,” said Thibeau. “It is a system
story on page 8 for more information on the       responding to it.                                in the coming year,” Bail said.                    founded on equality. We cover more people
Organize for Strength initiative).                       Bob Seltzer, an attorney for the                   In New Jersey, it has been a similar      and pay less than in the States.”
         Jeff Eichler, who heads up the union’s   RWDSU, reported on the situation at              story. Vice President and Local 108                        New York City Comptroller
Retail Organizing Project in New York City,       Meadowcraft, a wrought iron furniture            President Charles N. Hall, Jr., told the           Bill Thompson was on hand to thank
updated the board on the union’s campaign at      manufacturer in Alabama, and how it              board about the fight to protect Strauss           the RWDSU for its support during his
the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.              shows the current bankruptcy system hangs        Auto workers when the company declared             campaign for Mayor of NYC. Though
        “We are fighting powerful interests       workers out to dry. The company went             bankruptcy this year.                              he lost in an election that was far closer
but we have an opportunity to create a            bankrupt this year and the union worked                   “The support we had from across the       than the experts had been predicting,
new model of responsible development in           hard to help save the jobs of workers in         labor movement and from all the RWDSU              Thompson’s campaign highlighted issues
                                                  Wadley and Selma, Alabama.                       locals helped us to secure a new contract at       of importance to working people and put
                                                         “We need bankruptcy reform.               Strauss. But it was a difficult and at times       Mayor Bloomberg on notice that New
                                                  The current system doesn’t protect               ugly fight.”                                       Yorkers were tired of business as usual.
                                                  workers,” Seltzer said.                                                                                     “The RWDSU is a principled union”
                                                         According to Alabama and                  Political Action                                   he said, “and throughout the campaign the
                                                                                                   for Workers                                        union focused on the very real economic
                                                  Left: NEJB President and RWDSU Vice President    Political action, and its importance in            concerns and hardships that are facing New
                                                  Tina Buonaugurio reports on organizing and
                                                  contracts in New England. Below: New York City
                                                                                                   helping working families weather the               Yorkers,” Thompson said.
                                                  Comptroller Bill Thompson (left) with RWDSU      recession and its role in building the union,              The board also discussed the union’s
                                                  President Stuart Appelbaum.                      was the focus of much of the Executive             finances with RWDSU Secretary-Treasurer
                                                                                                   Board’s discussion.                                Jack Wurm giving a detailed report on
                                                                                                           According to UFCW President Joe            where the union stands financially. Also the
                                                                                                   Hansen, member involvement will be a               board acted to approve a merger between
                                                                                                   key part of reforming the U.S. health care         RWDSU Locals 1102 and 88.
                                                                                                   system. He said that the UFCW has been                     “The merger is a good fit,” said
                                                                                                   meeting with the Obama administration              Local 88 President Jim SanPhillipo.
                                                                                                   and Congress to help fashion reform that                   “We are proud to have Local 88
                                                                                                   will cut costs and improve health care for         become a part of Local 1102,” said Local
                                                                                                   working people.                                    1102 President Frank Bail. “This merger
                                                                                                           AFL-CIO Legislative Policy Analyst         makes sense for members of both locals and
                                                                                                   Kelly Ross spoke about the ways unions             ultimately makes us stronger.” ■
4     Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




RWDSU A R O U N D                                                       OUR UNION


Six State Conference:
Putting a Face on Health Care Crisis
O                                                                                               Kayleen Speaks
            ver 200 RWDSU members from West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
            Illinois, Indiana, and New York met in Columbus, Ohio, for the annual Six-State
            Conference on October 16-17.                                                        Following a panel discussion on the health care crisis and the stress it is putting on union
                    “Welcome to Ohio,” said RWDSU Local 379 President Dave Lewis.               contract negotiations, Kayleen Flanery took to the podium to tell the conference about her
“We are glad to have you here, as we come together to hone our skills for representing          experiences with the U.S. health care system. Flanery talked about surviving cystic fibrosis,
members in the shops and focus on the important issues that matter to union members.”           a double lung transplant, and cancer in a moving speech that highlighted the pressing need
        The conference provided training sessions to help RWDSU members become more             for real health care reform.
effective at representing themselves and their co-workers and making their workplaces                   “My whole life I’ve been deemed to have a pre-existing condition so I am very
safer. It was political involvement, however, that took center stage, as attendees discussed    hard to insure. We have fought my whole life to obtain health insurance to keep me alive,
the health care crisis and debate that is at the forefront of U.S. politics today. While the    fighting with insurance companies who cared more about profits than helping me get
health care debate and its effect on working people was never too far from discussion, it       better,” Flanery said.
was the testimony of 20-year old Kayleen Flanery that put a human face on the need for                  For most people, fighting cystic fibrosis and recovering from a double lung
health care reform.                                                                             transplant would be trying enough, but weeks after the successful surgery, the Flanerys got
                                                                                                another dose of terrible news: Kayleen had developed cancer.
                                                                                                        “I learned later that I had only a two percent chance of getting this cancer, and I
                                                                                                learned that if only I had been able to get my meds and at the right dose, there was a high
                                                                                                probability that I wouldn’t have gotten cancer. I was livid at this. If only the insurance
                                                                                                companies had listened to my doctors, I would have gotten the proper treatment.”
                                                                                                        Unbelievably, things got even worse. Six weeks after her cancer diagnosis, and




                                                                                Left to right: RWSDU Local 386 Business Agent Tim Ferguson, IJB President David Altman, and RWDSU Reps. Mike Flanery
    Left to right: Mike Flanery,                                                and Rick Marshall participated in a panel discussion investigating the health care crisis.
    Kayleen Flanery, and
    Jennie Flanery after
    Kayleen’s stirring speech.
                                                                                                                                                         wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 5




                                                                              RWDSU A R O U N D                                                            OUR UNION


as a result of her chemotherapy, an intestinal blockage required yet another surgery and
extended hospital stay.
        “I have now spent over $1 million since February, 2009, on health care. Everything
is denied the first time, everything has to be pre-approved, getting pre-approval is time
consuming and difficult, it sometimes takes weeks for me to get tests that I need to stay
alive,” Flanery said.
        “People say that they don’t want the government between them and their doctors.
But I ask you this: who is between you and your doctor now? Would you rather have
someone that is concerned with profits, or someone that is concerned with service? Every
man, woman, and child in this country has a right to reliable and effective health care,”
Flanery added.

RWDSU Members Get Involved
Energized by Flanery’s testimony, attendees immediately took action to make their voices
heard. Union activists used their cell phones to call their representatives in Congress and
urge their support for real health care reform, guaranteeing access to quality, affordable
health care for all without taxing the benefits of working people.
      “Kayleen’s speech really hammered the point home that our lives are at stake, and
that health care reform needs to happen now,” said Nickole Straughn, a Local 390 member          Members took action and called Congress to demand real health care reform.
employed at Kroger’s supermarket in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Nobody should have to fight with
these insurance companies while they are fighting sickness or injuries.”
       Other speakers at the Six-State Conference often returned to the health care issue,
and two things that are connected with it: political action and organizing.
       In his address to the Six-State attendees, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum
talked about the importance of continued political activism to help pass health care reform.
       “We are facing a terrible economic crisis, but we have a great opportunity to pass real
health care reform,” Appelbaum said. “We need to keep up the pressure on the people we
helped elect, so that they don’t lose sight of what is important to working families and all
Americans: meaningful health care reform.”
       RWDSU Secretary-Treasurer Jack Wurm sent a message, saying: “We need to
continue to organize so that we can maintain our strength at the bargaining table and
continue to push for the issues that matter most to working people, like health care reform.”

Political Action at the Forefront
At the 2008 Six-State Conference, the focus was on electing friends of working people,
including President Barack Obama. This year, the focus was on continuing to keep
members politically active, and on furthering the worker agenda after the success in 2008.
       RWDSU Recorder Amelia Tucker said that “we must continue to encourage all
members to vote, and provide them with the information they need to make the choices that
benefit them and their families.”                                                                Top: Maria Tucker (right)
                                                                                                 and Doretta Bradley,
       Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern spoke about the importance worker            both employed at
involvement made in 2008, and of building upon those efforts.                                    Fresh Mark in Ohio,
       “We would not have not been able to win in Ohio without the efforts of working people     participating in the
                                                                                                 organizing workshop.
and unions. It made all the difference and you should be proud of your contributions. But we     Right: Local 390
need to keep going to the polls, and we need to keep pushing for what is right,” Redfern said.   member Nickole
                                                                                                 Straughn catches up on
       “Our health care system is broken. People are living on the edge, knowing that            the latest issue of the
something can happen at any time that threatens to bankrupt them. While insurance                RWDSU Record during
companies make millions, working people are being left behind,” Redfern added.                   a break.

       Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher also
talked about how union households are helping to shape the political discussion in Ohio and
the country, and the importance of grassroots political involvement by working people.

Training for Union Activists
RWDSU Organizers Audra Makuch and Allen Mayne conducted an organizing session
centered around the new RWDSU Midwest Organizing Project. The session focused on the
importance of organizing and provided a framework for members to reach out to nonunion
friends and family so they can join the RWDSU.
       “We are really excited to bring the RWDSU to more workplaces and workers in the
midwest,” Mayne said. “The participants at the Six-State Conference were very receptive
and excited about bringing a union voice to their friends and family.”
       Labor educator Walter Pearson conducted a training session for shop stewards that
simulated real-life workplace issues and explored the best ways to handle disputes between
members and management.
       RWDSU Health and Safety Director Steve Mooser’s workshop provided a forum
for members to discuss health and safety issues in their workplaces, and the proper ways of
dealing with them and increasing workplace safety. ■
6    Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




RWDSU A R O U N D                                                              OUR UNION


RWDSU Fighting for Living Wages in
New York City
T
          he RWDSU-backed Kingsbridge
          Armory Redevelopment Alliance
                                                     agreement guaranteeing living wages at
                                                     stores at the Kingsbridge Armory site, the
                                                                                                   council voted to support the RWDSU and
                                                                                                   override the veto.
                                                                                                                                                         When public dollars
          (KARA) succeeded in convincing             right for workers to join unions without              According to RWDSU President                  are used to promote
          the New York City Council to               intimidation and employer interference, and   Stuart Appelbaum, the RWDSU and
vote down a proposal by the Related                  other community benefits. The December        the coalition of unions, clergy, and                  private development,
Companies to redevlop the Kingsbridge                14 vote saw a near unanimous city council     the community that make up KARA,
Armory site in the Bronx. The vote came              vote of 45 to 1. After NYC Mayor Mike         will continue fighting for responsible
                                                                                                                                                         New Yorkers have the
after the developers refused to sign an              Bloomberg vetoed the council’s action, the    redevelopment projects that will benefit the
                                                                                                   surrounding communities, and not just the big
                                                                                                                                                         right to expect jobs
                                                                                                   business interests that seek to develop them.         that will lift workers
                                                                                                           “We believe, and I think most New
                                                                                                   Yorkers believe, that when public dollars             and their families out
                                                                                                   are used to promote private development,
                                                                                                   New Yorkers have the right to expect
                                                                                                                                                         of poverty.
                                                                                                   something in return: that the jobs they’re
                                                                                                   creating will lift workers and their families         Richard L. Trumka, who came to New
                                                                                                   out of poverty,” Appelbaum said at a press            York City on September 22 to support
                                                                                                   conference after the council’s vote.                  responsible redevelopment in the Bronx,
                                                                                                           “As far as we’re concerned, the               economic development has to be about
                                                                                                   battle for middle-class jobs for New Yorkers          building communities and not just building
                                                                                                   has only just begun,” Appelbaum added.                profits for developers.
                                                                                                   “This isn’t just about Kingsbridge, this is                    “Too many developers see our
                                                                                                   about all of the future development projects          communities as a place to turn a quick buck
                                                                                                   throughout New York City.”                            without returning anything of lasting value,”
Newly elected AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka (at podium) speaks about the importance of               According to AFL-CIO President                Trumka said. “We need to change that.” ■
responsible economic development at a rally in New York City in September.




RWDSU Wins at ILCA Awards
T
           he RWDSU Record was awarded first place in
           the Best Labor History Story category for the
           International Labor Communications Association
           2009 Awards. The award, for the article “Looking
Back, Moving Ahead,” which appeared in the Spring, 2008
issue of the Record, was given to RWDSU Associate Editor
Levi Nayman at the ILCA awards ceremony in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, on September 12.
         “Looking Back, Moving Ahead” told the story
of the courageous poultry workers at Royal Poultry in
Camilla, Georgia, (now known as Equity) who in 1972 won
representation by the RWDSU. Many of the workers who
were part of that campaign told the Record about their fight to
win union representation back in the early 1970s in Georgia.
They also described the difference it made in their lives when
they finally won their campaign to join the RWDSU Southeast
Council.
         “For the first time we weren’t afraid to speak up if there
was a problem,” said Equity worker Juanita Williams. “We didn’t
have to be afraid of being fired for speaking out. We didn’t have
to just accept what they said or go home. If we got hurt, the
supervisors couldn’t just ignore it or patch us up and send us back
to work. We had a voice and they had to respect us.”
         The article also shed light on the abuses that poultry
workers continue to face in the U.S. in non-union poultry
plants. It is estimated that poultry workers in the U.S. are owed between $300 and $400
million in back pay.
         “A union voice continues to be the best way for poultry workers to ensure that they                             RWDSU Record Associate
aren’t cheated out of wages and mistreated on the job, which are hardships they continue to                              Editor Levi Nayman
                                                                                                                         accepted the ILCA award
face in the U.S.,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. ■                                                              for best labor history story.
                                                                                                                                                         wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 7




                                                                                   RWDSU A R O U N D                                                       OUR UNION


Lifelong RWDSU Local 1-S Member Leads Off
Thanksgiving Day Parade
T
            o celebrate her extraordinary 70 years of service to Macy’s,
            Rose Richardone cut the ribbon to lead off the Macy’s
            Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.
                   Richardone, who still works in the office at Macy’s
flagship store in New York City’s Herald Square, has been a RWDSU
Local 1-S member for most of her life. In fact, RWDSU Local 1-S has
never existed without Richardone’s membership.
         Richardone was hired as a bookkeeper at Macy’s 70 years ago
in November. At the time her name was Rose Syracuse, and she was a
17-year old who had just graduated from high school. There was only
one other Macy’s store, in Parkchester, New York, and neither of them
had a union. Much like today, the economy was shaky and there was
trouble abroad. The country was still feeling the effects of The Great
Depression and Europe was engulfed in war.
         Richardone remembers those difficult times:
         “We worked 48 hours a week, including Saturdays, and we earned
$14 a week,” she said. “Everyone worked because everyone needed a job,
but we knew things could be better.”
         “People really wanted the union so things would be better for us.
I remember it all,” she said. “We marched around the store, we marched
around the block, we marched in the winter cold with our hats on. And
we did it!”
         It wasn’t just a victory for Richardone and her co-workers, it was
a victory for the generations of Macy’s workers who followed.
         “The union fights for you. They really help you. Otherwise how
could you do it all by yourself? Nobody would listen to you,” Richardone
points out.
         Richardone has seen many changes in her years at Macy’s, most she
says, for the better.
         “The store is even nicer now than it was then. It’s exquisite. And
everything is more sophisticated now,” Richardone said.
         Richardone still enjoys coming to work full-time and has no plans
to quit.
         “It’s what keeps me going,” she says. “I really like the people that
I work with. That makes a big difference.” ■




                               RWDSU Local 1-S President Ken Bordieri
                               presents Rose Richardone with a pin commemorating
                               her longstanding membership in the union.




Hundreds Join “Hike for a Hero” in Ontario
A
           lmost a year ago, Cpl. Bill Kerr of Sudbury,          marked a milestone in Kerr’s recovery as he walked on
           Ontario, was struck by a roadside explosive           pavement for the first time since his injury.
           blast while on his second battle tour in                      Like Kerr, Northern Joint Council President
           Afghanistan. Seriously injured in the blast, Kerr     Derik McArthur and Business Representative Jeff
is expected to have limited mobility for the rest of his life.   Black are reservists with the 2nd Battalion, The Irish
       To help honor Kerr’s sacrifices, the RWDSU                Regiment of Canada. Both have known Kerr for years
Northern Joint Council is leading an effort to raise             through their service.
funds to build a home for the soldier and his young                      “When Bill came home everyone was shocked
family. The Sudbury community has rallied to the cause           by the war hitting so close to home,” McArthur said.
and the community has been generous with donations.              “His life has been turned around by this tragic event, and
       In the most recent example of community support           we knew something had to be done to say thanks to his
for Kerr, union and community members participated in a          family for making this sacrifice, and for the community to
fundraising walk called “Hike for a Hero.” The event also        give back.” ■                                                The community has turned out in force for efforts like the Hike for a Hero.
8    Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




    Organize for Strength:
                                                                                         A Grassroots M
A
           fter eight years where Bush and the Republicans allowed Wall Street to freely        it made sense to most of the workers. In fact, it seemed like a no-brainer,” Shepherd added.
           indulge in recklessness and greed, one thing is clear: It’s the rest of us who are          “Joining the union is the best move we could have made and in less than a year we
           bearing the brunt of the downturn they created. Workers are now told that they       have seen a huge difference,” Shepherd said. “The wage and benefit improvements have
           are lucky just to be working and should accept whatever treatment their bosses       been great, but most importantly, we are no longer at-will employees. We can’t just be fired
dish out, no matter how dehumanizing the workplace policies or how poor the pay or              because someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”
benefits may be.                                                                                       “I tell people all the time about the benefits of the union. I’m glad there is now a
        Yet there is evidence from recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports         program to help bring people I know into the union,” Shepherd said.
that working men and women are no longer willing to accept this treatment. Despite the
trying economic times, more Americans are turning to unions to give them a voice in the
workplace and to stand up to management when it puts profits ahead of all other concerns.
                                                                                                Grassroots Action to Build the Union
According to the BLS, the number of union workers in the U.S. rose 428,000 to 16.1              In the Midwest, RWDSU organizers have created a new program, Organize for Strength,
million in 2008, from 12.1 percent of the workforce a year earlier to 12.4 percent. Numbers     dedicated to empowering people like Shepherd to help bring a union voice to their friends
like these are encouraging to union activists trying to build a stronger labor movement.        and family. The goal is to get RWDSU members involved in building the union and making
        “Working people have been asked to make all the sacrifices to help get us out of this   it stronger for all. The program provides a means for RWDSU members to connect union
recession and they are sick of it,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “More than           organizers with friends, family members, neighbors, and others who could benefit from
ever, workers need the power of a union behind them to win fair wages and benefits and          joining the RWDSU.
keep what they have gained. In the RWDSU we are dedicated to empowering working men                     “We want to let people know about the difference that a union voice brings,” said
and women to achieve the strength and security that only comes with a union voice.”             RWDSU Deputy Director of Field Operations Allen Mayne, who is helping to spearhead
                                                                                                the new organizing initiative. “Everyone in the union—from field reps to members to local
The Union Difference                                                                            leadership to staff—needs to tell the story of higher wages, better benefits, seniority rules,
                                                                                                and having a voice on the job.”
Workers at Cole’s Quality Foods breadstick plant in North Liberty, Iowa, were eager to join
a union once they learned how unions can help solve workplace issues.
       “We joined the union earlier this year because favoritism was a huge issue.
                                                                                                Telling the Union Story
Scheduling, job bidding, and discipline all seemed to depend upon who was liked by the          Telling the story of union membership is a winning strategy.
bosses,” said Matt Shepherd, an oven operator at Cole’s.                                               Workers at four Heiner’s Bakery retail stores in West Virginia, who ratified their first
       “Unfairness was a way of life,” Shepherd said. “And that’s before taking into account    RWDSU contract in July 2007, sought out union membership after talking with Local 21
that our wages and benefits weren’t as good as they should have been. We saw lots of            members who work as route drivers for Heiner’s Bakery and deliver products to the stores.
important reasons to join the union, and once the word got around to the people in the plant,   According to Carol Stevens, the lead clerk at the Huntington, West Virginia store, the
                                                                                                                                                    wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 9




                                                                                                                                Left: Cole's Quality Foods workers joined the
                                                                                                                                RWDSU to fight favoritism and win improvements.
                                                                                                                                Middle: Union strength helps RWDSU members like
                                                                                                                                these Fresh Mark employees in Ohio win strong new
                                                                                                                                contracts. Right:Workers at Health Now stores in
                                                                                                                                New York and New Jersey had gone years without
                                                                                                                                getting raises before they joined the RWDSU.




Movement Takes Shape
 “Working people have been asked to make all the sacrifices to help get us out of
 this recession and they are sick of it,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.
 “More than ever, workers need the power of a union behind them to win fair wages
 and benefits and keep what they have gained.”
 drivers talked to her about the benefits of union membership when she voiced her concerns       union can help them do this, that’s what really gets their attention. That’s when they really
 about problems in the workplace.                                                                understand the value of a union voice.”
        “We weren’t happy with our pay, and by talking to the drivers we learned about                    By developing a grassroots organizing movement, the RWDSU hopes the
 the benefits of joining a union and the fact that union members make more money than            initiative can get the truth about unions to potential members before the flood of lies
 non-union members,” Stevens said. “It made a real difference to hear from people who            and misinformation that is usually unleashed by companies at the start of a conventional
 were actually in the union, instead of just reading a pamphlet or something.”                   organizing drive. According to Mayne, this can be achieved through confidential meetings
        The workers joined the RWDSU and immediately saw changes for the better.                 and getting the truth out early in any campaign.
        “In our first contract, we not only gained higher wages, but for the first time ever              “The referral process will be completely confidential so management won’t be
 we received guaranteed medical coverage, seniority rights, paid vacations and a grievance       coming after or trying to intimidate people early on in the process, as they often do. These
 procedure. These were all benefits that the union drivers talked about,” Stevens added.         leads are between the union, the potential member, and the RWDSU member who has
        Organizers say that when people learn about joining a union the part of the story that   made the referral. By the time the organizing drive is up to racing speed, the workers who
 resonates more than any other is the promise of being treated with respect.                     want a union voice will know their rights and it will be harder for management to bully
        “More than anything—more than the higher pay or anything else —working people            them,” Mayne said. “Workers will know their rights, and they’ll know about the anti-union,
 we talk to just want to be respected by their employers,” explains RWDSU Regional               anti-worker tricks they can expect from management and how to deal with them.”
 Director Randy Belliel. “They want the company to respect them and they want to be
 treated as more than just inventory or equipment. They want to be listened to and they
 want their opinions and concerns to count,” Belliel points out. “When we tell them that the                                                          (Continued on page 10)
10     Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010



(Continued from page 9)

Why We Need to Organize                                                                          Get Involved Today
Organizing not only brings a better life to those without a voice on the job, it helps people    “Organize for Strength is designed to reinvigorate the RWDSU’s organizing efforts from the
who are already members of a union, Mayne explained. Bringing new members into the               bottom up,” Mayne says. “It really is union activism and empowerment at its purest level,
union is important because it makes the union stronger and gives all members more clout,         and we are looking forward to helping working people win the dignity, respect, and benefits
power, and leverage at the bargaining table. When a RWDSU workplace is surrounded by             that come with gaining a union voice.” ■
non-union workplaces, the lower wages drag down wages and benefits throughout the area
and make it more difficult to win strong contracts.
        “If we are trying to negotiate, management will always say, ‘Hey, the workers down
the street are getting minimum wage and no benefits, why should I have to pay more?”
Mayne said. “And in a way they have a point. It doesn’t justify what management tries to            Contact an RWDSU Organizer
do in negotiations, but non-union workplaces in the same business or industry undermine
us by underpaying their workforce and that hurts all of us. We need union strength to keep          If you are in the Midwest, call 1-888-330-9111 and speak
negotiating strong contracts.”                                                                      with Allen Mayne or Randy Belliel. You can also email
        He noted that the opposite is also true: the more union workers there are in one area,      organizeforstrength@rwdsu.org
the higher the wages and benefits will be in that area. The old saying is true when it comes
to negotiating wages and benefits: a rising tide raises all ships.                                  Even if you aren’t in the Midwest, you, too, can help
                                                                                                    build the RWDSU, revitalize the labor movement and
Bringing new members into the union is important                                                    improve wages and working conditions for yourself and
                                                                                                    your community by referring people you know to RWDSU
because it makes the union stronger and gives                                                       organizers. Send an email to organize@rwdsu.org describing
all members more clout, power, and leverage at                                                      the person you know who needs a union voice, and
                                                                                                    where they work. You can also call the RWDSU Organizing
the bargaining table.                                                                               Department at 212-684-5300.




     Telling the Story in Canada


     U
              nions make a difference in Canada, too,
              and members’ stories help to organize new
              members and build the union.
            In August, 2008, 65 workers at Price
     Chopper supermarkets in North Bay, Ontario,
     joined the RWDSU Northern Joint Council after
     hearing about the pros of union membership
     through their relationship with the union drivers
     who deliver products to the store. Local 545
     member and truck driver Reese Boden had Price
     Chopper on his route. While delivering dairy
     products, he would talk to the non-union workers
     in the shipping department at Price Chopper.
     Invariably, conversation would often turn to work.
            “I worked with these guys and saw them all
     the time and we would talk about lots of things.
     Sometimes, I’d hear complaints about the job,” Boden said.
                                                                                                 mention how with his contract, he gets annual wage increases.
     “Sometimes I’d say, ‘You know, if that happened to me, I’d be able
                                                                                                 I’d mention that even though I’d been there for years, I was being
     to solve that problem because of my union contract,’ or I’d note
                                                                                                 bumped from the schedule by people who had just been hired,
     that those issues didn’t happen to me because of language we
                                                                                                 and he mentioned how he had seniority rules written into his
     had in the contract. I didn’t make a high pressure hard sell on the
                                                                                                 contract,” Paquette said. “These things rub off on you, and we
     union, but I’d politely note that things are different when you are
                                                                                                 started to see that having a union at our store would fix a lot of
     a union member, and that you don’t just have to accept what the
                                                                                                 the issues we were having and give us the voice on the job that
     company says all the time.”
                                                                                                 we needed.”
            Phil Paquette, one of the workers in the shipping department
                                                                                                       Across North America, telling the union story remains the
     at Price Chopper, said: “Reese is a great guy and we would talk all
                                                                                                 best way to show non-union members how a union voice is the
     the time, about sports, or the family, and of course, about work.
                                                                                                 best way to make things better at work. ■
     I’d tell him that people here hadn’t got raises in years and he’d
                                                                                                                                                  wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 11




                              RWDSU B A R G A I N I N G                                                                    FOR BETTER LIVES


Raises and Other Improvements Highlight
Indiana Dairy Contract
T
          he 107 members of RWDSU Local 810 at Prairie Farms Dairy plants in Fort
          Wayne and Mishawaka, Indiana, are already enjoying the benefits of their new
          five-year contract. Besides wage increases of $2.50 an hour over the life of the
          agreement, members protected their health care coverage and won many benefit
improvements.
        One of the improvements was a change in the overtime pay system that guarantees
time-and-a-half pay for all daily worked hours over eight. Previously, workers had to
exceed 40 hours in a week to qualify for overtime pay.
        “This is a big improvement, and one that we have been trying to win for years,” said
Kenny Eubanks, a driver who has worked at Prairie Farms since 1974. “Now we know up
front that we’ll be getting overtime pay if we work more than eight hours in any single day.
It’s a nice part of the new contract.”
        The new agreement also increases the shift premium pay, and for the first time
expands to cover drivers instead of only those working inside the plant.
        “That’s another nice change,” added Eubanks.
        Workers at Prairie Farms Dairy produce milk, sour cream, cottage cheese and other
dairy products. Serving on the negotiating committee were: J.D. Workman, Larry Hoffman
and Tim Muller, with assistance from Indiana Joint Board President Dave Altman. ■
                                                                                                 Prairie Farms driver Kenny Eubanks




Wage Increases Highlight Ohio Fresh Mark Pact
A
           new four-year contract for 205       contract also contains the biggest raises        wages 50 cents per hour for everyone in        bacon products for consumers and large
           RWDSU members at Fresh               we’ve ever had at Fresh Mark.”                   the first year and also contains 50 cents in   food chains like Wendy’s.
           Mark, a supplier of smoked and               “The members were unified behind         wage increases and a $725 lump sum bonus              Maria Tucker, Twila McGuire,
           processed meats in Massillion,       the negotiating committee, and as a result       payment over the remaining three years. In     Daniel Figueroa, Jim Champan and
Ohio, provides notable wage increases           we were able to negotiate a contract that        addition, seniority language was improved      Doretta Bradley served on the negotiating
while protecting health care coverage with      they could overwhelmingly support and            to give members more opportunities to bid      committee, with assistance from RWDSU
no increase in medical premiums over the        ratify,” said RWDSU Representative Allen         on higher paying jobs.                         Rep. Allen Mayne. ■
course of the agreement. The contract also      Mayne. “They were tough negotiations, but                The workers at the plant process
improves benefits and workplace rules.          the solidarity of the members helped make
       “Keeping medical insurance costs in      the difference in getting a strong contract in
check was a huge issue for us and we were       a difficult economy.”
pleased to achieve our goal of no increases,”           The contract, ratified by an
said Chief Steward Doretta Bradley. “The        overwhelming 91 percent margin, raises


                                                                                                 Michigan Dairy Workers
   Nebraska Drivers                                                                              See Increases in Wages
   Win Improvements                                                                              and Benefits
   T                                                                                             M
                                                                                                                 embers of Local 389 employed at Country Fresh Dairy in Grand Rapids,
             ruck drivers and transport employees at Deans Foods in Lincoln, Nebraska,
                                                                                                                 Michigan, ratified a new contract on October 3. The new agreement increases
             have ratified a new three-year pact. The new contract gives the Local 1808
                                                                                                                 wages and pension benefits, protects health care coverage and increases
             workers numerous improvements.
                                                                                                                 sickness, accident and life insurance coverage.
                    Wages will increase $2.30 over the life of the agreement, and there
                                                                                                         “The members at Country Fresh really stuck together during these negotiations,
   will be increases in safety shoes and uniforms allowance, the first year health and
                                                                                                 and it paid off with a strong contract,” said Chief Steward Mark Kollar. “Considering the
   dental premiums have been frozen and there are increases short term disability
                                                                                                 economy in the U.S., and especially in Michigan, we were pleased to be able to bring home
   weekly payments and pension allowances and meal allowances. In addition, the
                                                                                                 a good agreement.”
   contract creates funeral leave improvements and cell phone reimbursements.
                                                                                                         The five-year contract contains wage increases totaling 11 percent over the course
          “The contract was overwhelmingly ratified, and it’s a strong one especially
                                                                                                 of the agreement, and the company’s contributions to the employees’ RWDSU pension will
   considering how hard it is to win gains in this economy,” said Local 1808 President
                                                                                                 increase by $2 per week each year. By the last year of the contract, the company will be
   and Deans Foods route driver Robert Laws. “The membership stood behind the
                                                                                                 contributing $80 per week to the plan.
   negotiating committee and helped us put together a solid agreement.”
                                                                                                         The 156 employees at Country Fresh Dairy overwhelmingly voted to ratify the pact.
          Dean’s Foods drivers distribute dairy products including milk, ice cream,
                                                                                                 Serving on the negotiating committee were Local 386 President Ken Brown, Kollar, Mike
   cottage cheese, and sour cream. ■
                                                                                                 Bowen and Mike Brougham. ■
12     Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




RWDSU B A R G A I N I N G                                                                        FOR BETTER LIVES


First RWDSU Pact for Iowa Cole’s Workers
W
                hen workers at Cole’s                  what one worker called “broken promises.”         on October 31 by an overwhelming margin                 “This is a great first contract for us,
                Quality Foods in North                 Now, the 44 production, sanitation, and           and includes average wage increases of          it creates a strong foundation for the future
                Liberty, Iowa, joined                  maintenance workers at the facility, which        approximately 60 cents per hour for the         while improves things now,” said finishing
                RWDSU Local 110 in                     produces frozen breadsticks, are already          first year, and 15 cents per hour for each      line worker Susie Smith. “This is why
February, they did so because they wanted              enjoying the benefits of their first union        of the remaining two years of the contract.     we joined the union, so we would have a
a voice on the job to stop communication               contract.                                         The workers also won vacation time, sick        contract, in writing, that ends favoritism and
problems, favoritism, and put an end to                       The three-year contract was ratified       pay of 40 hours annually, frozen medical        spells out what we are entitled to.”
                                                                                                         and dental premiums for the first 18                    Serving on the negotiating committee
                                                                                                         months of the agreement, the Friday after       were Chief Steward DeCarlo Perry, Steward
                                                                                                         Thanksgiving as an additional holiday, and      Matt Shepherd, Local 110 President Al
                                                                                                         instituted a plant-wide seniority system for    Hartl, Jr., and Local 110 Recorder Phil
                                                                                                         job bidding, vacations, overtime work, and      Ondler. RWDSU Representative Roger
                                                                                                         layoffs and recalls.                            Grobstich assisted. ■




                                                                                                            Stony Brook Workers
                                                                                                            Secure Medical Benefits,
                                                                                                            Wage Increases

                                                                                                            T
                                                                                                                      he close to 200 Local 1102 members who work in food service at Stony
                                                                                                                      Brook university ratified a new three-year pact on October 1. During the
                                                                                                                      lengthy negotiations, the union fought back six pages of “give backs”
Cole’s workers celebrate their first union contract.                                                                  initially demanded by the company.
                                                                                                                    “Management was trying to reduce sick days, holiday pay, and implement
                                                                                                            medical cost sharing, all things that the membership was vehemently opposed
                                                                                                            to,” said Local 1102 President Frank Bail. “Basically, they wanted to undermine


Local 1102 Members
                                                                                                            the union contract, but the negotiating committee, backed up by the membership,
                                                                                                            wouldn’t allow this to happen.”
                                                                                                                    The new contract secured the medical plan with no cost sharing by employees.


at Davis Aircraft
                                                                                                            There are also good wage increases that are retroactive to June 1, and increases in
                                                                                                            the Local 1102 401 K pension plan, which members have in addition to their defined
                                                                                                            benefit pension plan. In addition, several “past practices” were secured in writing. ■


Win Improvements
T
          he 100 RWDSU Local 1102


                                                                                                         First Contract for
          members who work at Davis
          Aircraft in Bohemia, Long Island,
          stuck together during long and


                                                                                                         Tennessee Flav-O-Rich
difficult negotiations to win a three-year
contract.
        During the negotiations, management


                                                                                                         Workers
proposed a “high deductible” plan to the
workers that would cause workers to
pay more money out of pocket to cover




                                                                                                         W
expensive medical costs. Additionally,
management wanted to weaken employees’                                                                                   orkers at Flav-O-Rich in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have ratified a new
seniority rights in case of a layoff. To keep                                                                            RWDSU contract. The three-year contract was ratified by a unanimous vote,
members informed and united, the union                                                                                   and includes wage increases and a change in the way drivers are paid that
held several off-site meetings where many              members at Davis Aircraft manufacture                             will result in higher earning for the Local 323 members.
workers expressed concerns. The workers                interior parts for commercial and military                The workers, who deliver milk and ice cream, will now be paid on a price per case
also held a demonstration in front of the              aircraft, such as seat belts and cargo netting.   basis, replacing the old commission per item system.
employer’s office to show management that                      “The unity of the Davis workers is                “This will raise earnings for the workers at Flav-O-Rich, because pay is on a more
their proposals were unacceptable.                     what made the difference,” said Local 1102        consistent rate,” said Local 323 President Wayne Smith. All hourly employees will also see
        The final contract, which was                  President Frank Bail. “It took 13 meetings        a 50 cent hourly increase.
unanimously ratified, included significant             over nine months, and we were on the                      “The Chattanooga workers are a dedicated group that was united behind the
wage increases in each year, a new 401 K               brink of a strike vote. But the workers stuck     negotiating committee, and more workers signed up for the union during this latest round of
plan in addition to the pension plan already           together and because of that, they won a          negotiations,” Smith added.
in place, protection of the union health plan,         great contract.” ■                                        Serving on the negotiating committee were Smith, Chief Steward Ben Jones, and
and guaranteed seniority rights. Local 1102                                                              RWDSU Rep. Terry Jaremko. ■
                                                                                                                                                    wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 13




                                    RWDSU A                                       VOICE FOR WORKING PEOPLE


Local 338 Workshops Help Stewards
Make a Difference
A
            series of five workshops held      Artie Caraway. “The class showed how we
            in Long Island, Westchester        can show people we know who are having
            and New York City, in October      trouble at work how much they stand to gain
            and November helped provide        by joining a union, and how Local 338 can
important training for Local 338 shop          help them turn things around. These classes
stewards.                                      were very enthusiastic, and the stewards are
        The workshops focused on adding        excited about helping to make a difference
organizing to the stewards’ skill sets so      in the lives of the people they know.”
they can help bring a union voice to more              Besides organizing, the classes        Above: Local 338 shop stewards were eager to help
workers throughout New York.                   also spotlighted ways that stewards can        build the union. Right: Local 338 Representative
                                                                                              Carlos Sanchez (standing) was among the instructors
        The voluntary classes, which           make a difference at their workplaces as       of the class.
90 Local 338 shop stewards eagerly             well. The classes included training on the
participated in, explained how stewards        nuts and bolts responsibilities of a shop      members on a daily basis,” said Local 338
can identify “hot leads,” family, friends,     steward – handling members’ grievances,        President John Durso. “It’s important that
and acquaintances who need a union at          acting as a liaison between members and        they know their responsibilities, their rights,
their workplaces.                              union representatives, and communicating       and the best ways to serve their co-workers.”
        “At parties, get togethers and other   non-disciplinary issues like shop conditions          The classes were directed by Field
events, people are always talking about        and scheduling.                                Directors Caraway and Jeff Laub, and
their jobs, and often, what they have to say           “Shop stewards are the face of the     Senior Director of Internal Operations
isn’t good,” said Local 338 Field Director     union for many members, and they help          Elena Dundon. ■



                                                    SUMMARY ANNUAL REPORT
                            FOR                                                                             YOUR RIGHTS TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
          RETAIL, WHOLESALE & DEPARTMENT STORE                                                 YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE A COPY OF THE FULL ANNUAL
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                                                                                               BELOW ARE INCLUDED IN THAT REPORT:
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    WHOLESALE & DEPARTMENT STORE INTERNATIONAL UNION AND                                       3. INSURANCE INFORMATION INCLUDING SALES COMMISSIONS PAID
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    JANUARY 1, 2008 AND ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2008 WERE $107,975.
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    IN THE VALUE OF PLAN ASSETS; THAT IS, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN                               ANNUAL REPORT AT THE MAIN OFFICE OF THE PLAN:
    THE VALUE OF THE PLAN’S ASSETS AT THE END OF THE YEAR AND                                  FUND OFFICE
    THE VALUE OF THE ASSETS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, OR THE                               1901 10TH AVENUE SOUTH
    COST OF ASSETS ACQUIRED DURING THE YEAR. DURING THE PLAN                                   BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA 35205
    YEAR, THE PLAN HAD TOTAL INCOME OF $19,582,355. THIS INCOME
    INCLUDED EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS OF $27,782,456, EMPLOYEE                                   AND AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR IN WASHINGTON, D.C., OR
    CONTRIBUTIONS OF $80,596 AND EARNINGS FROM INVESTMENTS                                     TO OBTAIN A COPY FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR UPON
    OF $(8,321,382). PLAN EXPENSES WERE $26,849,812. THESE EXPENSES                            PAYMENT OF COPYING COSTS. REQUESTS TO THE DEPARTMENT
    INCLUDED $2,688,279 IN ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES AND $24,161,533                             SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, EMPLOYEE
    IN BENEFITS PAID TO PARTICIPANTS AND BENEFICIARIES.                                        BENEFITS SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, PUBLIC DISCLOSURE ROOM, 200
                                                                                               CONSTITUTION AVENUE, NW, SUITE N-1513, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20210.
14    Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




  RWDSU S C H O L A R S H I P
RWDSU Scholarship Winners
Know the Union Difference

F
          ive young men and women, all RWDSU members or members of an RWDSU                                                            Carmin Rodriguez is a Local 2006
          family, have won the annual Alvin E. Heaps Scholarship, which rewards good
                                                                                                                                       member employed at Yellow
          grades and a demonstrated understanding of the role of unions in workers’ lives.
                                                                                                                                       Rat Bastard retail store in New
                                                                                                                                       York City. She is a senior at NYC
                                                                                                                                       College of Technology majoring in
                                   Nakia Bouyer is a member of Local
                                                                                                                                       communication design. She told
                                   1102 employed as a cashier/line
                                                                                                                                       the RWDSU:
                                   server by Aramark. She is attending
                                   St. Francis College and majoring in
                                                                                                                                 Over two years ago I began working in a retail store
                                   Radiology. She described the ways                                                             called Yellow Rat Bastard, located in Soho in New
                                   the union has helped in her own                                                               York City. I was repeatedly reminded that if I worked
                                   life, saying:                                             over my 40 hours, I was not going to be paid overtime. I can recall one day that I was
                                                                                             scheduled to leave at 7pm so I wouldn’t work over 40 hours that week, but when I was
                                                                                             ready to leave my manager insisted I stay. She told me that it was my problem that I was
                                   There are many important benefits to being in a
                                                                                             working over 40, not hers, and that I shouldn’t expect overtime pay.
                                   union besides just higher wages and a say on the
                                                                                                  After a few months of this kind of treatment, I was approached by a nice young
                                   job. In the fall of 2008, I was only getting around
                                                                                             lady who asked me some questions about the job. I leaned that she was a member of the
16 hours a week on my job. This was a real struggle considering the daycare costs
                                                                                             RWDSU’s RAP (Retail Action Project) and through RAP I learned all about the injustices
and the daily costs needed to support my newborn daughter. I talked with my union
                                                                                             the company I worked for had done. I got involved with the organization, and I saw the
representative and was told how I could request more hours due to my seniority, or seek
                                                                                             union open doors of knowledge to many people who did not know about their rights. The
work in other units. I went from 16 hours a week to 35 hours a week, and it has made
                                                                                             union helped me and my co-workers get a union contract and a voice on the job and it
all the difference. In November 2008, the union let me know about a voucher program
                                                                                             changed everything. I hope that more workers are able to experience the opportunity of
for working parents to help with daycare costs. I was accepted into the program and
                                                                                             winning a union, which can improve their jobs and their lives.
it saved me money. With the union’s help, now I can provide for my daughter and my
household. I couldn’t be more thankful that I have union representation.




Lisa Thomas is the daughter of Kenneth B. Thomas, Jr.,
a Local 1718 member who works at Snyder’s of Berlin
in Pennsylvania. She is a freshman at Frostburg State
University in Frostburg, Maryland, majoring in social studies.
She wrote:

My father has worked union jobs for most of his adult life. When working union he has
always had a decent wage, good working conditions, vacation and holiday pay. We also have
family health insurance and job security, two huge pluses in today’s world. My father has
stood up for himself and his co-workers on strike when it was needed, and he knows if the
occasion would ever arise the union would be there to back him up.
     My mother is currently working a non-union job. Her pay is decent, but she has no
insurance, holiday or vacation pay. She has no job security or anyone to stand up for her.
Non-union jobs have you at the mercy of your employer and you have no rights but what
they are willing to give you. Unions have fought long and hard for working people and we
would never want to go back to the way it was before they were here to fight for us.



                                                                                             Left to right: Ken, Lisa, and Bonnie Thomas
                                                                                                                                                   wINter 2010 I Vol. 57, No. 3 15




                                                                                                          RWDSU S C H O L A R S H I P
                                         Lisa Snider is an RWDSU Local 545                                                           Mercedes Whitaker is the daughter
                                         member working at Metro Ontario                                                             of Vance Earl Whitaker, a Local 1050
                                         Inc. in North bay, Ontario. She is                                                          member employed at Merita Bakery
                                         a 3rd year student at Nipissing                                                             in North Carolina. She is a freshman
                                         University majoring in psychology                                                           majoring in Nursing at East Carolina
                                         and English. She described her                                                              University. She describes her family’s
                                         experiences this way:                                                                       relationship with the union:

                                     When I think of the benefits of being in a union,                                                  The union is very important to my family. The union
                                     two words come to mind: pay and protection. As a                                                   negotiates and makes sure my father is protected on
                                     post-secondary student with children, I understand                                                 the job. If he has an issue, he can meet with his union
the meaning of financial struggle. I rely on my employment for my living as well as              representatives to discuss the matter. The union helps make the workplace a better
contributing to the expensive costs of education. As an employee at A&P/Metro, I am              place for all.
guaranteed a wage increase every six months, thanks to my union contract.                              My father alone holds little power, but together he and his co-workers have strength
      The union also provides important protection. I never have to feel as though my job will   and influence. This is why unions are so important: they provide strength, bargaining
be passed over to someone else or that I will be dismissed or treated unfairly by management     power, support, and most importantly, a voice.
or supervisors. We have union representatives on site who are always willing to assist and             All workers want to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, and yet many find
answer questions. Being a union member, I always feel as though someone is “looking out          that their suggestions are routinely ignored and rejected. Too many workers feel that they
for me.” Union membership will continue to be a strong element of the modern workplace,          are denied their basic rights to talk and think when they enter the workplace. The union has
offering protection and betterment in the lives of many.                                         changed this for my family. The union has been a voice and given my family security in
                                                                                                 knowing that we can always count on them.”


Matthew Nardi is the son of Michael Nardi, Jr., a Local 1034
member employed at Pathmark in New Jersey. Matthew
is a freshman majoring in secondary education at Rutgers                                                                                  Alvin E. Heaps
University in New Jersey. He wrote:                                                                                                       1919-1986

Unions are the backbone of America. In our family we are union members and union                                          Former RWDSU President Al
supporters. Unions are very important, especially in tough economic times. A few years
                                                                                                                          Heaps was born in 1919 and
ago my dad was very sick and suffered through three heart attacks. The RWDSU was
always there for us. After each incident, my dad needed months to recuperate. Dad’s union                                 grew up in the dark days of the
representatives called often when he was at home, checking to see if we needed anything,                                  Great Depression. He lived in a
and all the while assuring us that his job was waiting for him. Thanks to them and the union                              coal-mining town in Illinois and
contract, my family felt safe.
                                                                                                                          saw how the mine workers’
     There is a lot of talk in the news today about health care. I don’t think people realize
how their union helps them with health benefits until they lose them. My dad has to take
                                                                                                    union helped its members and the community through
many prescription drugs, and it is because of his great union benefits that we can afford           hard times.
them. I’ll always be grateful for what unions have done for my family and look forward to
someday belonging to one myself.                                                                    He served in the U.S. Army in World War Two and was
                                                                                                    decorated for his bravery in combat.

                                                                                                    After the war, he became a member of RWDSU in
                                                                                                    Chicago and joined the struggle for workers’ rights,
                                                                                                    demonstrating the same leadership skills he’d shown
                                                                                                    in the war. A forceful advocate for justice on the
                                                                                                    job, he rose through the union’s ranks, serving as a
                                                                                                    shop steward, local union officer, Chicago Joint Board
                                                                                                    officer, International Secretary-Treasurer and, in 1976,
                                                                                                    RWDSU President.

                                                                                                    The union honors Al Heaps’ concern for others with the
                                                                                                    Alvin E. Heaps Memorial Scholarship, established in
                                                                                                    1987. We know Al’s spirit is alive and well in our union.
Left to right: Mike Nardi, Matthew G. Nardi, and Gary Barker, Local 1034 secretary-treasurer
16    Vol. 57, No. 3 I wINter 2010




  RWDSU H E A L T H                                                        AND SAFETY GUIDE


Violence in the Workplace
A
           lthough the number of workers who were murdered at the workplace declined                       Administrative measures which examine opening and closing procedures, hours
           in 2008 from the previous year, violence against workers remains a serious              of operation, and review of violence incidents are also very helpful. Additionally, a good
           problem. Hard economic times raise additional threats, especially for retail            relationship with local law enforcement agencies can help ensure timely response to
           workers whose stores may face increased incidents of theft.                             emergency situations.
        Media coverage would lead us to believe that most workplace violence involves
worker against worker situations. Our employers are bombarded with appeals for workplace
violence prevention seminars and training programs focused on identifying troubled
                                                                                                   A Program for Prevention
employees or disgruntled workers who might turn into violent predators at a moment’s               To reduce workplace violence we need management commitment of time and resources and
notice. But this distorts the reality of workplace violence. In fact, 62 percent of all violence   an active worker involvement in identifying potential risks. Each workplace should develop
at worksites is caused by outsiders.                                                               a written violence prevention program. The program should include:
                                                                                                           Worksite Risk Analysis. What are likely violent incident scenarios? What procedures
                                                                                                   pose higher risks? What areas are potentially more dangerous? What problems have similar
                                                                                                   establishments faced?
Workplace violence injures 1.7 million                                                                     Recordkeeping. When, where and how have incidents occurred previously?
workers per year. It is the 10th leading                                                                   Training. Ensuring workers are trained regularly on how to identify and respond to
                                                                                                   emergency situations.
cause of injuries at an annual cost of                                                                     Hazard Elimination and control. Based on the identification of potential risks, how
                                                                                                   can these be reduced (ex. barriers, better lighting and camera surveillance, more staffing,
$600,000,000.                                                                                      changes in hours of operations etc.).
                                                                                                           Evaluation. How often will the program be evaluated and by whom? ■

        A majority of workplace violence incidents occur in service industries such as health
care facilities, social service and mental health agencies, prisons etc. 21 percent of the
incidents occur in the retail industry workplaces.
        Workplace violence injures 1.7 million workers per year. It is the 10th leading cause
                                                                                                      Further Assistance
of injuries at an annual cost of $600 million. Women are more often victims of workplace
violence (56 percent), and homicide is the second leading cause of workplace fatalities for           The RWDSU Health and Safety Department can
women in the United States.
        But physical attacks are not the only type of workplace violence. Violence in the
                                                                                                      provide information and technical assistance
workplace also includes written or verbal threats, harassment, threatening behavior and               to you in helping evaluate your worksite and
verbal abuse. Many workplaces have developed stricter rules on violence and threats of
violence at the workplace, including zero tolerance policies. What is unclear, however, is            developing a Workplace Violence Prevention
how often these policies cover aggressive behavior, threats and bullying by supervisors.
Our union should try to be actively involved in the development of these policies and                 Program. Please contact us at (212) 684-5300
ensure that they apply to all personnel equally.
        Retail workers are at increased risk of violent acts at work because they commonly
                                                                                                      or www.rwdsu.org.
face more risk factors. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
identified many factors common to an increased risk of violent acts against workers. They
included: Contact with the public around
the exchange of money, protecting valuable
property, working alone and understaffing,
working “graveyard” shifts, and working
in high crime areas. For health and social
service workers, working with unstable and
volatile clients is the primary risk factor.
These workers also often face the problem of
understaffing.
        Reducing the risks of workplace
violence for retail workers involve taking steps
in several areas. Controlling the accessibility
to money and reducing the amount of cash
on hand is important, and signage should be
used to indicate that there is a limited amount
of cash on the premises. Good lighting and
enhanced surveillance equipment in and
around retail establishments are very important
in reducing potential that a particular store will
be targeted by robbers.
        Training is also very important. Retail
workers should receive adequate training on
how to respond to robbery emergencies, how to
use safety equipment such as alarms and how
to handle troublesome customers. In no way
should retail workers be expected to pursue or
directly confront shoplifters and others involved
in the active commission of a crime.

								
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