For working people, progress and resistance
Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union UFCW www.rwdsu.org | 2/23/2017, 10:13 a.m.
Workers at three Babeland stores in New York City—a mission-driven, queer-owned sex toy boutique—have made history by ratifying their first union contract after organizing with the RWDSU last year. Workers will receive general wage increases and adjustments, as well as signing bonuses and post-probationary wage increases. Most significantly, it’s the first union contract that includes added safety and security trainings and protocols to protect Babeland’s predominantly LGBTQ and women workforce in this highly emotionally intimate industry.
It’s a contract that shows the value of unions and how union contracts can help workers in any industry and any workplace. Babeland workers have unique, job-specific concerns, and by winning a voice and the power that comes with it they were able to win a contract that will significantly improve their jobs and their work lives. And, it will help protect them in the workplace, which was one of the driving reasons behind their desire to organize.
In the era of Trump, with those who have traditionally been marginalized by society facing uncertain times and an increasingly hostile environment, it’s significant that these workers proved the power we can all win when we stand together. It’s significant because we all deserve to be treated with dignity, justice and respect. Working men and women—regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status—refuse to recede back into the shadows or succumb to the fear being stoked by our current presidential leadership.
We will fight any attempts to marginalize working people. We see it in victories like those at Babeland, and we see it in the emphatic rejection of Andrew Puzder, who would have been the most anti-worker labor secretary we have ever known. Even in difficult times, there is power in unity. Across America, people are fighting back, and we in the labor movement are proud to be an integral part of it.