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Pleasure Chest workers vote to join RWDSU

Stephon Johnson | 7/13/2017, 10:34 a.m.

Fast food workers aren’t the only ones who’ve wanted to organize.

At the end of June, in a unanimous vote, workers at Pleasure Chest locations around New York City voted to join the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union. Employees of the sex toy store are fighting for better wages, the right to collectively bargain, better treatment on the job and more security protections.

Most of Pleasure Chest’s employees are women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, called the campaign against the workers “transphobic” and advocated for more organizing by marginalized people.

“The harassment and categorically tone-deaf anti-union campaign lead by Jackson Lewis and Labor Relations International that the workers at Pleasure Chest faced is an outrage,” said Appelbaum in a statement. “I am proud that the RWDSU will be at the bargaining table to ensure that these workers never face that type of horrific transphobic behavior by their company again. This is now the second workforce unionized in the industry, and it has never been clearer that LGBTQ workers need a strong union voice. The RWDSU is proud to work with our new members at Pleasure Chest to ensure that they have the rights and protections they need in this highly sensitive workplace.”

Management at Pleasure Chest hired Jackson Lewis and Labor Relations International, who are both known among workers’ right activists as “union-busting” consultants. They were, allegedly, hired to try and keep anything or anyone related to RWDSU from entering the workspace. They’re attempts were unsuccessful.

Nico Fuentes, a sex specialist at the Pleasure Chest, echoed similar sentiments to Appelbaum in a statement.

“The company and their union-busting buffoons’ blatant disregard for our gender identities during the organizing campaign only further demonstrates the need for a united voice, which is why we’ve decided the RWDSU will be a strong partner in securing safety trainings and protocols when harassment by the company or by the public takes place,” said Fuentes.

Pleasure Chest sales associate Emma Schledorn said in a statement that management’s actions made working at a place that requires a lot of care more taxing for her.

“Creating a sex-positive experience for customers in the adult retail industry always comes with its own set of challenges and emotional labor, but became even more difficult in the wake of the vehemently anti-union campaign that was staged by the company,” said Schledorn. “Now that we have won a union voice, we will have the rights, protections and procedures in place through a union contract that will allow us to continue to provide a sex positive message in a safer and more protected space.”