Every job has gained importance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as we continue seeing the workers that keep the economy afloat. Retail workers have garnered a bit of praise for their dedication throughout the pandemic.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum discussed how RWDSU are faring at this point in the pandemic, some organizing work and more on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
Heading into the holiday shopping season
Appelbaum said this holiday season will be an entirely new experience for retail workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number one goal of the RWDSU is that everyone is protected and remains safe as the pandemic is surging in many parts of the country. This is also a time of year when many retail workers make the most money. Although the pandemic should keep some shoppers at home, he still believes that these workers will encounter some sort of stress.
He said it will be very important for workers and customers to wear masks, social distance and follow all of the rules and guidelines set forth to limit spread.
There have been some problems throughout the industry with employers desperately trying to make it seem like they care about safety, without actually enforcing any measures.
Coming together in solidarity
Appelbaum then talked about a story of 305 RWDSU members working to make Motts Applesauce who were able to successfully strike until they won the contract they deserved during the Great Recession.
After a record profit year for the parent company, they decided they were going to try to cut the wages of the 305 workers making the product. The employer said these workers should look at the level of unemployment and think of themselves as a commodity.
These workers went on a 17-week strike that eventually ended in the workers winning a new contract with their terms.
Many unions supported the Biden-Harris ticket in the recent election after four years of anti-worker policy and appointments by the Trump administration.
Applebaum believes the RWDSU will have an ally with the new administration and knows that unions will have a seat at the table.