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Zara Workers Join RWDSU

Zara Workers--RWDSU

This week, after a majority of the workers at Zara’s eight stores in Manhattan signed cards stating they wanted to be represented by RWDSU Local 1102, the company agreed to recognize the union.  The agreement covers over 1,000 retail workers at all of Zara’s stores in Manhattan.  These are the first Zara workers in the United States to be unionized.

Zara, the Spanish fashion chain owned by Inditex, is the world’s largest clothing retailer.  The RWDSU and Zara reached an agreement earlier this year where the employer agreed to remain neutral and not to oppose the union’s attempt to organize its workforce.

“Zara’s approach to recognize the right of its workers to form a union, without intimidation, is a message to all retailers – you can be successful and still respect the right of your employees,” said Gemma de Leon Lopresti, president of RWDSU Local 1102.

This is the largest retail organizing win in New York City in recent years. In 2009, RWDSU Local 1102 organized nearly 1200 workers at H&M, another fast-fashion global retail chain.

Workers at Zara look forward to working in an environment where they can make their jobs better, and create better lives for themselves and their families.

“Working in retail is extremely fast-paced and hectic,” said Joseph Minton, an associate at Zara’s 59th street location.  “I’m excited that the company is willing to listen to our concerns and work with the union for everyone’s benefit.”

“We applaud Zara for recognizing the rights of its employees to choose to unionize, without interference,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “Unfortunately, too many American employers refuse to respect their workers’ right to freedom of association and intimidate and threaten workers who try to organize.”

“This process is a huge step for retail workers in New York. Zara, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, is sending a strong message that you can remain profitable and still recognize your workers’ right to dignity, justice and respect on the job,” said Appelbaum.

MCAW’s Pride Month Campaign Pushes Back at Walmart

MCAW Pride Parade

In June during Pride Month, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) organized actions in front of Walmart stores and at Pride events in cities throughout the country to educate Walmart customers and the LGBT community about the retail giant’s real record on LGBT issues, and not let the company get away with their attempted “rainbow washing.” Members of MCAW also marched alongside UFCW OUTreach staff and UFCW locals in Pride parades in San Francisco and New York City.

MCAW also released an open letter to the nation’s leading LGBT Pride organizations calling for them to reject Walmart’s donations because of the retailer’s long history of allowing LGBT discrimination in its stores. Additional information about the campaign can be found here.

MCAW Press Conference Highlights Struggles of Injured Walmart Worker

OMaria from Walmart Press Conferencen March 10, the California Making Change at Walmart team held a press conference at the Walmart in Union City, Calif., to highlight one former Walmart worker’s struggle to get the company to fairly compensate her after an injury at work. Maria Umali worked in customer service at Walmart for 16 years until she broke her hip on the job. She is now wheelchair-bound and unable to move around much, but Walmart is refusing to pay for an at-home health aide and necessary medical equipment.

The press conference was attended by supportive Walmart workers; Alameda County’s District Two Supervisor Richard Valle; a representative from California Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s office; a representative from California Senator Bob Wieckowski’s office; and Pastor Kurt from FAME.

In a statement, Assemblymember Quirk said, “A responsible company provides safe working conditions for its employees. A responsible company provides fair compensation for its employees in those unfortunate conditions where accidents do occur. But Walmart is not a responsible company.”

Quirk added: “Maria is not alone. Walmart needs to step up and take responsibility for workers injured on the job.”

At the conference, Maria said, “I was a dedicated Walmart employee for 16 years. I liked my job but I don’t think I will ever be able to work again after my injury. I can barely afford to pay my medical bills, let alone pay for the home nurse that I need after my partner’s death. I just want Walmart to do the right thing.”

Click here to watch an interview with Maria from the press conference, and click here to sign a petition that asks Walmart to ensure that workers are safe on the job, and that people get the proper care if they are injured at work.

“THE NUMBER-ONE SELLING ITEM IN WALMART STORES IS BROKEN PROMISES”

Making Change at Walmart responds to company’s announced change in scheduling

Washington, DC — Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), the national campaign to change Walmart into a more responsible employer, released the following statement responding to Walmart’s recently announced change in workers’ scheduling practices:

“The number-one selling item at Walmart stores is broken promises,” said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW. “Just ask any worker who had their hours cut or their store closed while Walmart was touting its so-called ‘wage increases.’ There is Walmart rhetoric and then there is reality.”

“Walmart workers deserve the fair and flexible scheduling for which they have fought. We hope this is a promise the company actually keeps, and we will continue to hold Walmart accountable to make sure they are keeping their word to workers.”

BACKGROUND:

It’s easier to find a unicorn than a Walmart worker who has received a meaningful raise.” – MCAW statement, 1/20/16

“While it pretends to value its employees, the reality is, for Walmart, its workers are disposable.” – MCAW statement, 1/15/16

Grocery Worker Retention Act Becomes Law

gwra1

Mayor Bill de Blasio (at desk) signs Grocery Worker Retention Act as RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum (de Blasio’s right) and UFCW/RWDSU Local 338 President John Durso (far right) look on.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday signed the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA) into law. The GWRA provides for a 90-day transition period to eligible employees following a change in ownership of a grocery store.

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the city council for passing this important legislation,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “It provides protection for the 50,000 Supermarket workers in New York City – who until now faced a sudden loss of income and benefits when their stores were purchased by new operators. This law provides stability within the grocery industry, protecting workers’ rights and promoting retention while providing for a workforce experienced and knowledgeable in food preparation, health regulations and sanitation procedures. That means that this law will help maintain safe and reliable service to families that depend on their local supermarkets for dietary and nutritional needs.”

The grocery industry makes up a significant portion of New York City’s retail workforce with over 50,000 employees and roughly two-thirds of this workforce coming from immigrant labor. This industry, however, currently suffers from a volatile condition with the eminent merger, closing or the establishment of new ownership of our supermarkets jeopardizing the future of workers and the quality of life of countless communities.

The recent A&P bankruptcy has provided a vivid example of this, rippling through the city with 52 stores impacted throughout the five boroughs including subsidiary brands such as Pathmark, Waldbaum’s, Food Emporium, and Food Basics. Some stores have been closed, others sold or auctioned, or even transformed into non-supermarket entities.

“New owners can’t just discard workers, some of whom may have worked for years at the store, in an effort to lower wages.  The bill also protects our communities by maintaining experienced staff that understand proper sanitation procedures and can maintain health standards.   It’s a common sense approach to bring some stability for workers, consumers and businesses. We thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member I. Daneek Miller for their leadership and the City Council for supporting this important piece of legislation,” Appelbaum added.

Walmart Closing 269 Stores Sends “Chilling Message” to Workers

making change at walmart web logoMaking Change at Walmart (MCAW), the national campaign to change Walmart, released the following statement responding to news that the company will close 269 stores globally, including 154 in the United States. This announcement will affect 10,000 U.S. employees.

“Walmart is a company that, time and again, will say one thing and then do the opposite. Public relations matters more to them than their customers, the community, or their employees,said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW. While it pretends to value its employees, the reality is, for Walmart, its workers are disposable. Sadly, these latest store closings could very well be just the beginning. This sends a chilling message to the company’s hard-working employees that they could be next – and with no one standing up for them, that is no doubt the reality.”

Levin added: “Now more than ever, Walmart’s workers must work together to change Walmart for the better. Clearly, the livelihoods of all Walmart employees depend on it.”

MCAW “Are You With Us?” Campaign Supports Unjustly Fired Workers

Mike and Thomas WM SqMaking Change at Walmart joined with UFCW Local 1 and community leaders to hold a rally in support of two local workersMichael Walsh and Thomas Smith, who were recently fired from their Walmart jobs for outrageous and unfair reasons. The rally, which took place outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Schenectady, New York, was part of the five-week holiday campaign that is rallying community support to better the lives of Walmart workers and other retail workers across the nation.

UFCW Local 1 President Frank C. DeRiso, who participated in the rally, said earlier this week in an op-ed in the Albany Times-Union, “We’re calling on everyone in the Capital Region to reach out to Walmart managers as well as the headquarters in Bentonville and tell them that their workers have earned better: They have earned the right to not lose their jobs for absurd policies that are never made clear. If Walmart won’t do the right thing, at least we can. It’s what the holiday season must and should be about.”

Stand with Price Rite Workers–Sign the Petition!

PR_group_L (1)A new petition in support of Price Rite workers is now available online. Now more than ever, it is time for companies like Price Rite to do the right thing and publicly commit to provide better wages, better benefits, and better schedules that help improve the lives of workers. The petition features the story of Price Rite worker Corey Reed and his struggle to make ends meet due to low wages and unfair schedules. These workers only want to be better providers for their families and continue their work of serving their communities.

Sign and share the petition and call on Price Rite to do the right thing and publicly commit to providing:

-Better wages so Price Rite workers earn more to support their families

-Better benefits so that every Price Rite employee’s hard work is rewarded

-Better schedules so that every Price Rite worker can spend time with their families

Better communities are created by improving the lives of every hard-working family. By making the necessary changes to improve the lives of workers, Price Rite has the opportunity to create real change in the community and become a responsible employer that offers the wages, benefits, and schedules that workers like Corey deserve. Learn more about the Price Rite campaign on Facebook.

 

Link: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/standing-with-price-rite-workers

UFCW Local 400 Applauds Introduction of “Just Hours” Legislation in D.C.

Just Hours L400Last week, Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400, which has more than 3,000 members living in Washington, D.C., released the following statement in response to the introduction of the “Hours and Scheduling Stability Act.”

“If you ask anyone who works at a retail store in D.C. how to improve their job, the response is likely to include scheduling. Stable hours and predictable scheduling make it easier for people to plan their future and spend time with their families. Unfortunately, in the interest of maximizing their bottom lines, numerous retail stores in D.C. rely on erratic and last minute scheduling that forces people to work harder and longer and be unaware of their shift until the last moment.

“The Hours and Scheduling Stability Act would begin to curb these abusive scheduling practices by giving retail workers advance notice of their schedules, stopping on-call practices, and promoting full-time work opportunities by offering available hours to current employees before new ones are hired.

“The bottom line is that uncertain work schedules are too common in this city and they’re making it increasingly difficult for people who work at retail stores throughout D.C. to make ends meet.

“The legislation introduced today would go a long way towards ensuring retail workers in D.C. are given the consistent hours and schedules they need to create better lives for themselves and their families.

“We urge the D.C. Council to pass the Hours and Scheduling Stability Act as soon as possible.”

Summary of Bill’s Key Provisions:

 Scheduling with advance notice so that people aren’t living day-to-day:

  • Employers must post schedules 21 days in advance.
  • If an employer initiates a schedule change thereafter, the employee will receive one hour of pay as compensation for the change.
  • If the change occurs within 24 hours of a shift, the employee is awarded four hours of pay.

 Promoting full-time work opportunities so that people have enough hours to make ends meet:

  • Employers will offer available hours to qualified current employees before hiring new employees.

 Stopping abusive “on-call” practices so families can plan their lives:

  • If an employer cancels an employee’s shift or declines to call in an “on-call” employee with less than 24 hours’ notice, the employee will receive four hours of pay.
  • The law already guarantees employees a minimum daily pay of four hours when they report to work – this provision would simply close the “on-call” shift loophole.

 Ensuring equal treatment for hourly employees:

  • An employer may not discriminate against employees of the same job qualification with regard to rate of pay, leave and promotion opportunities regardless of hours worked.

 Who does this legislation apply to?

  • Chain retail employers with at least five establishments nationwide; and chain fast-food and full-service restaurants with at least 20 establishments nationwide.

For more information, please visit the DC Just Hours website.

Making Change at Walmart Launches National “Are You With Us” Campaign

Are You With Us Leaflett Revised VersionMaking Change at Walmart’s national “Are You With Us?” tour will include rallies at Walmart stores and other retail locations in cities in all 50 states across the country in the coming weeks. The kick-off is in Quincy, Mass., on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The tour and campaign are meant to showcase and highlight the negative impact that the country’s largest employer has on all American retail workers, which includes paying employees poverty-level wages, cutting hours and schedules to force workers into part-time jobs and salaries, and insufficient benefit offers.

The “Are You With Us?” grassroots initiative is part of the MCAW 5-week holiday campaign that is seeking to mobilize hard-working Walmart workers and Americans to help change Walmart into a responsible employer. The initiative will include targeted rallies and actions at hundreds of different Walmart stores. The targeted national ad campaign, which includes current and former Walmart workers, will air in over two dozen states.

The ad can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_OLGPsTtU4