Labor Union

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)

RWDSU logo (link)
Website:

www.rwdsu.info/

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-1426674

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $17,058,932
Expenses: $18,101,961
Assets: $43,855,534

Type:

Trade union

Formation:

1937

President:

Stuart Appelbaum

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is a labor union that is a semi-autonomous division of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Its members come from various sectors, including retail, manufacturing, service, and health care industries throughout the United States and Canada. [1] The union advocates for left-leaning policies in workplace health and safety and immigration. RWDSU has also actively supported Democratic candidates in local and federal election. [2]

RWDSU includes workers at large national retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and H&M. [3] Many grocery store and pharmacy workers, particularly in New York, are also members of RWDSU. [4] Nonetheless, from 2006 through 2016, RWDSU union membership has declined by over 13,000 members. [5]

History

In 1937, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (a predecessor to the AFL-CIO union federation) chartered RWDSU. Several unions have merged with RWDSU over the years, including the Playthings, Jewelry, and Novelty Workers Union; the Distributing, Processing, and Office Workers Union; and the Cigar Makers Union. In 1993, the RWDSU became affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). [6]

The union has a long history of supporting left-of-center policy and officials, being the first labor union to endorse the presidential candidacy of then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton (D) in 1992. RWDSU has also worked to advance left-of-center policy in employment advocacy, negotiating a contract at a Tyson Foods plant to make Eid al-Fitr a paid holiday, creating a LGBT nondiscrimination policy for retail workers at Bloomingdale’s in New York City, and supporting illegal immigrants in employment negotiations. [7]

Political and Legislative Advocacy

2020 Presidential Election

RWDSU supports former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. Union president Stuart Appelbaum stated that the union will do anything it can to help Biden win the election, claiming that the Democratic Party has created a “dream ticket.” [8]

RWDSU’s website contains a dedicated page for the November 2020 election, titled “2020 Election Hub.” The union lists its endorsed candidates on the page, along with providing instructions on how to vote. RWDSU gives special attention to elections in New Jersey and New York. The union also created a “Voting Rights” flyer, informing New Jersey residents that voting will be conducted primarily via mail-in voting and that ballots will be automatically sent to homes. [9]

Queens Borough Election

RWDSU, along with Teamsters Local 553, UFCW Local 1500, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and the New Queens Democrats, endorsed Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Queens) for Queens borough president. Constantinides has been an outspoken opponent of Amazon placing its second headquarters in Long Island City and has resisted the development of distribution centers in two other Queens neighborhoods, despite the potential increase in tax revenue and employment opportunities the initiatives would create in Queens. [10]

Corporate Campaigns

Amazon

RWDSU has attempted to unionize workers within Amazon, informally helping warehouse workers in union organizing. [11]

In late 2018, Amazon announced Queens, New York as one of its top choices for building a second corporate headquarters. Appelbaum said that if Amazon wanted to build its headquarters in New York, the company had to “respect workers and respect communities.” [12] In January of 2019 at an anti-Amazon rally, Appelbaum argued publicly that anyone who supported building Amazon’s second headquarters in Queens could no longer be considered “progressive, pro-worker, or pro-union.” [13]

In February of 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) hosted a meeting between Amazon executives and the officials from left-of-center labor unions including RWDSU, the controversial AFL-CIO, and New York Teamsters. Governor Cuomo also provided a framework to help Amazon work more cooperatively with the unions, and the union representatives created “rules” for Amazon’s response to potential employee unionization. [14]  One day later, Amazon abruptly canceled its plans to build its second headquarters in New York. [15]

Manufacturing Advocacy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, RWDSU accused the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of failing to protect working people. [16] RWDSU began demanding that poultry industry employers adhere to stricter safety standard, set by the union itself. [17]

In 2020, RWDSU began to organize against Tyson Foods when two employees at one of the company’s chicken processing plants died. RWDSU includes 2,000 employees at one of the Tyson Foods plants, and over 10,000 employees at poultry plants across the country. [18] After accusing Tyson of not doing enough to protect its employees, RWDSU, demanded that Tyson implement policies including 72-hour shutdowns, payments to quarantined workers, personal protective equipment for all workers, the installation of Plexiglass shielding between workstations, and staggered work shifts. [19]

General Mills plant employees joined RWDSU in January 2019. Less than a year later, General Mills proposed contract changes, including schedule changes and raises. Over 500 General Mills employees voted down the proposal, and when the union members’ demands were not met, RWDSU coordinated a strike to begin on November 1, 2019. [20] However, after a meeting between the union’s bargaining committee and General Mills representatives, a majority of the 500 employees represented by the union agreed to a three-year contract. [21]

Macy’s

In 2016, over 5,000 Macy’s department store employees represented by RWDSU scheduled a strike across New York to protest rising health care costs, a cap on wages, changes to pay structure, and mandatory holiday shifts. In preparation for the strike, Macy’s ran ads to hire employees to replace the striking workers. RWDSU stepped in to hold negotiations on the night before the planned strike which ran early into the morning. Macy’s eventually agreed to RWDSU’s demands, preventing the strike. Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) both met with union officials in the days leading up to the planned strike. [22]

Leadership

Stuart Appelbaum has been president of RWDSU since 1998. Appelbaum sits as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store International Union and Industry Benefit Funds. He is also the executive vice-president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Appelbaum is also involved with the AFL-CIO, working as vice president of the national AFL-CIO, sitting as a member of the federation’s executive council, and co-chairing the federation’s international affairs committee. Appelbaum also works as vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO and sits as a member of its executive committee.

Aside from his work in labor organizing, Appelbaum is deeply involved in the Democratic Party. Appelbaum is a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), sits on the DNC’s executive committee, and co-chairs the DNC’s resolutions committee. He also served as a member of the Electoral College from New York, pledged to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. [23]

Financials

Appelbaum received $373,807 in total compensation in 2018, while his executive assistant, Robert Layng, received $277, 543. [24] RWDSU spent over $11 million on salaries and wages, pension plan contributions, and other employee benefits. [25] RWDSU also received $10,000 in support from the UFCW International Union in 2018. [26] RWDSU is listed as “sharing paid employees” with UFCW, a partnership that costs over $14 million per year. [27]

References

  1. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Department for Professional Employees AFL-CIO. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.dpeaflcio.org/retail-wholesale-and-department-store-union ^
  2. Our Issues. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/ ^
  3. Ghaffary, Shirin and Del Rey, Jason. “The Real Cost of Amazon.” Vox. June 29, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2020. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/6/29/21303643/amazon-coronavirus-warehouse-workers-protest-jeff-bezos-chris-smalls-boycott-pandemic ^
  4. Lewis, Rebecca C. “The Importance of Low-Wage Workers During a Pandemic.” City and State New York. April 2, 2020. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/personality/interviews-profiles/importance-low-wage-workers-during-pandemic.html ^
  5. Members and Dues. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store, National Headquarters. Union Facts. November 15, 2016. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.unionfacts.com/lu/71/RWDSU/0#membership-tab ^
  6. About – History. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Accessed September 9, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/history ^
  7. About – History. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Accessed September 9, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/history ^
  8. Press Release. “Kamala Harris Statement From RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.” Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. August 11, 2020. Accessed September 16, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/kamala_harris_statement_from_rwdsu_president_stuart_appelbaum ^
  9. New Jersey Voting Rights – 2020 Presidential Election Flyer. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/rwdsu/pages/680/attachments/original/1599053722/2020_Voting_BY_STATE_%281%29.pdf?1599053722 ^
  10. Parry, Bill. “RWDSU Endorses Constantinides in Race for Queens Borough President.” QNS. March 2, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://qns.com/2020/03/rwdsu-endorses-constantinides-in-race-for-queens-borough-president/ ^
  11. Ghaffary, Shirin and Del Rey, Jason. “The Real Cost of Amazon.” Vox. June 29, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2020. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/6/29/21303643/amazon-coronavirus-warehouse-workers-protest-jeff-bezos-chris-smalls-boycott-pandemic ^
  12. Greenhouse, Steven. “New York Labor Didn’t Shrink From Confronting Amazon.” The American Prospect. February 18, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2020. https://prospect.org/environment/new-york-labor-shrink-confronting-amazon/ ^
  13. Parry, Bill. “RWDSU Endorses Constantinides in Race for Queens Borough President.” QNS. March 2, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2020. https://qns.com/2020/03/rwdsu-endorses-constantinides-in-race-for-queens-borough-president/ ^
  14. Salinas, Sara. “Amazon Held Last-minute Negotiations with Union and Local Officials Before Canceling New York HQ2 Plans.” CNBC. February 15, 2019. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/15/amazon-held-11th-hour-meeting-before-pulling-the-plug-on-nyc-hq2-rpts.html ^
  15. Kitroeff, Natalie. “Amazon and New York Unions Had ‘Productive Meeting,’ Then Came a Shock.” The New York Times. February 14, 2020. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/business/economy/amazon-union-cuomo.html ^
  16. Thornton, William. “Tyson Foods Chairman: ‘The Food Supply Chain is Breaking.’ April 27, 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://www.al.com/business/2020/04/tyson-foods-chairman-the-food-supply-chain-is-breaking.html  ^
  17. Gruenberg, Mark. “Appelbaum: Poultry Plant Workers ‘Are Not Expendable’ in Coronavirus Pandemic.” April 20, 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://peoplesworld.org/article/appelbaum-poultry-plant-workers-are-not-expendable-in-coronavirus-pandemic/ ^
  18. Gruenberg, Mark. “Appelbaum: Poultry Plant Workers ‘Are Not Expendable’ in Coronavirus Pandemic.” April 20, 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://peoplesworld.org/article/appelbaum-poultry-plant-workers-are-not-expendable-in-coronavirus-pandemic/ ^
  19. Gruenberg, Mark. “Appelbaum: Poultry Plant Workers ‘Are Not Expendable’ in Coronavirus Pandemic.” April 20, 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://peoplesworld.org/article/appelbaum-poultry-plant-workers-are-not-expendable-in-coronavirus-pandemic/ ^
  20. “General Mills Workers Reject Contract, Could Strike.” The Gazette. November 6, 2019. Accessed September 25, 2020. https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/business/general-mills-strike-cedar-rapids-union-local-110-20191106 ^
  21. Jett, Tyler. “After Threatening Strike, Union at General Mills Plant in Cedar Rapids Ratifies Contract.” The Des Moines Register. November 14, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2020. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2019/11/14/general-mills-union-cedar-rapids-ratifies-contract/4198241002/ ^
  22. Novellino, Teresa. Macy’s Averts N.Y.C. Strike as Retail Union Reaches Tentative Deal. New York Business Journal. June 16, 2016. Accessed September 25, 2020. https://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/news/2016/06/16/macys-averts-strike-in-nyc-union-tentative-deal.html ^
  23. About the RWDSU – Leadership – RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/president-stuart-appelbaum. ^
  24. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section 1A. Accessed September 11, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131426674/201943189349309644/IRS990 ^
  25. Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part IX, Lines 5, 7, 8, and 9. Accessed September 11, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131426674/201943189349309644/IRS990 ^
  26. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2015, Schedule I, Part II. Accessed September 11, 2020. https://www.rwdsu.info/connect-with-rwdsu-localsregional-councils ^
  27. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2015, Part V, Section 1, Lines O, N, and P; Section 2. Accessed September 11, 2020. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Lenore Miller
    Former President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1943

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $17,058,932 $18,101,961 $43,855,534 $757,984 N $271,954 $0 $582,440 $1,511,770 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $18,176,155 $18,006,365 $42,070,359 $761,967 N $552,622 $0 $2,539,695 $1,342,163 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $35,086,661 $16,022,828 $39,659,688 $773,029 N $723,542 $0 $18,091,659 $1,835,904 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $15,466,409 $15,722,035 $22,518,149 $779,691 N $930,626 $0 $621,948 $1,250,316 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $13,931,844 $13,773,729 $22,806,717 $941,122 N $383,555 $0 $611,008 $875,235 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $15,419,842 $13,639,642 $20,245,806 $92,870 N $518,853 $0 $679,783 $974,136 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $13,215,838 $13,276,750 $19,232,811 $61,849 N $246,747 $0 $672,174 $1,025,913 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)

    370 7TH AVE STE 501
    NEW YORK, NY 10001-0019