Thursday, February 09, 2006

RWDSU: Once Again Better than Their Parent Union

Retail workers at citywide chain win first union contract as result of campaign by Make the Road by Walking and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW

Nearly 100 workers at Footco/New York Sneakers, the 10-store sneaker and apparel chain, have won a three-year contract as a result of Despierta Bushwick! (Awake, Bushwick!), a campaign conducted by Make the Road by Walking, its Workers in Action Project, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU). The community-labor partnership spearheading this campaign is an innovative model for organizing drives the RWDSU is conducting throughout the city.

Footco workers ratified the contract that provides significant wage hikes, health care coverage, a prescription plan, paid vacation and sick days, and more on January 22. With the three-year contract, the workers receive $7.25 per hour which will increases to $8.15 per hour over the life of the contract, vacation, and paid sick and personal time-off, and more. Workers with twenty or more hours per week also receive health care benefits and a prescription drug plan.

The contract also covers workers at Footco stores in the East New York section of Brooklyn, Jamaica and Jackson Heights in Queens, the South Bronx and mid-town Manhattan.

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW said this was the first time a partnership between a labor union and a community-based organization had resulted in a contract for retail workers. "This is a unique organizing model that the RWDSU is also creating in other areas around the city. We are participating in partnerships that acknowledge the wisdom, voice and experience of workers and their communities as we seek to achieve social and economic justice."

Andrew Friedman, head of Make The Road by Walking said, "This contract is a major victory for Footco's workers, and a major victory for the movement for workers' rights in this city. It shows that when communities and organized labor work together, we can win dignity and justice for workers."


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