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New York City Thrift Store Workers Vote to Join RWDSU/UFCW

Unique Thrift store workers in New York City voted to join the RWDSU for better wages and working conditions.

Unique Thrift store workers in New York City voted to join the RWDSU for better wages and working conditions.

This week, workers at Unique Thrift in the Bronx, New York, voted to join the RWDSU/UFCW. All 64 workers at the Bronx store will be part of the bargaining unit. The workers who sort through the donated goods and staff the Unique Thrift stores in the Bronx, and other parts of New York and New Jersey are speaking out about their working conditions. Workers are paid low wages, receive no paid sick days or vacations, are verbally abused by managers and are often hurt on the job.

“As a single mom living in New York City, it is extremely difficult to survive off $7.50 an hour,” said Joanna Carrillo, Unique Thrift employee. “I was proud to vote yes to join the RWDSU because we deserve respect, better wages, and basic benefits such as health care and paid time off.”

Unique Thrift is a for profit thrift store which contracts with the Lupus Foundation. The company solicits donations in the name of the Lupus Foundation, sells the clothes for profit and sends the charity a comparatively small contribution.

RWDSU/UFCW New York City Car Wash Workers Strike and Help Co-Worker Return to Work!

Workers at Jomar Car Wash in New York City, who joined the RWDSU/UFCW  in April, went on strike after a worker was assaulted by a co-owner and then fired. About 15 Jomar workers walked out, demanding that the owners give co-worker Guillermo Anzures his job back. Workers returned to the job when managers agreed to rehire Anzures.

“We just want respect. We’ve always asked for it; we’ve never gotten it. That’s why we’re doing this,” said Anzures.

RWDSU Jomar Car Wash workers in New York City strike to help their co-worker return to work.

RWDSU Jomar Car Wash workers in New York City strike to help their co-worker return to work.

Anzures’ firing was the latest incident in what workers say is a campaign of harassment that began before employees overwhelmingly voted to join the RWDSU. While Jomar workers used their new union voice to help their co-worker, they are still demanding their employer negotiate a fair union contract.

Jomar workers say co-owner and manager Jose Pires has taken a range of actions against workers and their efforts to organize and bargain a contract. Anzures pressed charges against Pires, who was arrested and taken to the police precinct.

The NLRB is investigating previous complaints from union members. Union lawyers are also preparing a complaint over this latest assault.
Six car washes across New York City have voted to join RWDSU since last July. Hi-Tek car wash in Queens, New York, ratified a contract, and is the first car wash east of Los Angeles where workers have a union contract.

Workers at Guitar Center Unionize!

Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

Last week, 57 workers at Guitar Center’s flagship store in Manhattan voted to form a union with UFCW/RWDSU.

The union victory at the Manhattan store will help ensure that workers will enjoy better working conditions and will put a stop to declining wages.  Several other New York City Guitar Centers are expected to organize as well, with the potential for other store locations across the country to follow suite, according to Rolling Stone.

Workers at Guitar Center began organizing for union representation late in 2012, when they began to see decreased wages, and many struggled to make ends meet.  Big name rockers like Tom Morello and Ted Leo took notice and were among the many supporters of the workers campaign to unionize.

Some workers noted that, by supporting good jobs and working conditions at Guitar Center, the union is also supporting the music, since many of the new union members are in bands themselves.