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 IN SIDE eting . ......... 3 YO U R O F F I C E R S rd Me tiv e Boa ... 4-7 Execu ......... RWDSU .. ......... President Secretary-Treasurer n ....... .... 8-1 0 r Unio ......... Stuart Appelbaum Jack Wurm Jr. Arou nd Ou ......... 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 ......... U Sch ......... RWDS ....... 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, email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 INTERNATIONAL UNION AND REPORT, OR ANY PART THEREOF, ON REQUEST. THE ITEMS LISTED BELOW ARE INCLUDED IN THAT REPORT: INDUSTRY HEALTH AND BENEFIT FUND 1. AN ACCOUNTANT’S REPORT; THIS IS A SUMMARY OF THE ANNUAL REPORT FOR THE RETAIL, 2. ASSETS HELD FOR INVESTMENT; AND WHOLESALE & DEPARTMENT STORE INTERNATIONAL UNION AND 3. INSURANCE INFORMATION INCLUDING SALES COMMISSIONS PAID INDUSTRY HEALTH AND BENEFIT FUND, (EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NO. BY INSURANCE CARRIERS. 63-0708443, PLAN NO. 501) FOR THE PERIOD JANUARY 1, 2008 TO DECEMBER TO OBTAIN A COPY OF THE FULL ANNUAL REPORT, OR ANY PART 31, 2008. THE ANNUAL REPORT HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE EMPLOYEE THEREOF, WRITE OR CALL THE OFFICE OF BENEFITS SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, AS REQUIRED UNDER THE MR. MARK DAVIS, PLAN ADMINISTRATOR EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY ACT OF 1974 (ERISA). P.O. BOX 55728 BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA 35255-5728 INSURANCE INFORMATION 205-252-3586 THE PLAN HAS A CONTRACT WITH BCS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY TO PAY THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF CLAIMS INCURRED UNDER THE TERMS THE CHARGE TO COVER COPYING COSTS WILL BE $8.00 FOR THE FULL OF THE PLAN. REPORT, OR $0.25 PER PAGE FOR ANY PART THEREOF. YOU ALSO HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE FROM THE PLAN ADMINISTRATOR, ON REQUEST CERTAIN ORGAN TRANSPLANTS CLAIMS AND AT NO CHARGE, A STATEMENT OF THE ASSETS AND LIABILITIES OF THE PLAN AND ACCOMPANYING NOTES, OR A STATEMENT OF INCOME THE TOTAL PREMIUMS PAID FOR THE PLAN YEAR BEGINNING AND EXPENSES OF THE PLAN AND ACCOMPANYING NOTES, OR BOTH. JANUARY 1, 2008 AND ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2008 WERE $107,975. IF YOU REQUEST A COPY OF THE FULL ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE PLAN ADMINISTRATOR, THESE TWO STATEMENTS AND ACCOMPANYING BASIC FINANCIAL STATEMENT NOTES WILL BE INCLUDED AS PART OF THAT REPORT. THE CHARGE TO THE VALUE OF PLAN ASSETS, AFTER SUBTRACTING LIABILITIES OF COVER COPYING COSTS GIVEN ABOVE DOES NOT INCLUDE A CHARGE THE PLAN, WAS $51,702,813 AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2008 COMPARED TO FOR THE COPYING OF THESE PORTIONS OF THE REPORT BECAUSE $58,970,270 AS OF JANUARY 1, 2008. DURING THE PLAN YEAR THE PLAN THESE PORTIONS ARE FURNISHED WITHOUT CHARGE. EXPERIENCED A DECREASE IN ITS NET ASSETS OF $7,267,457. THIS DECREASE INCLUDES UNREALIZED APPRECIATION OR DEPRECIATION YOU ALSO HAVE THE LEGALLY PROTECTED RIGHT TO EXAMINE THE 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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