UFCW Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum first became involved in the labor movement because he believed that the best way to end injustice is by organizing people for change. As President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), he has been a transformative labor leader and improved the lives of thousands of workers across the country.
Appelbaum ascended to the presidency of the RWDSU in May of 1998 and has been reelected four times since then by the members of the union. During that time, the union has secured contracts for retail workers and other workers that have raised industry standards for scheduling, wages, benefits, and a variety of job protections.
Appelbaum is known for championing new models of organizing, and has given a strong union voice to many of the most vulnerable workers in the United States.
He has greatly increased the influence of the RWDSU and UFCW as forces for economic justice and social progress, forging deep alliances with the progressive movement, the civil rights movement, the immigrant rights movement, the faith community, and the LGBT movement.
In 2010, Appelbaum oversaw the successful strike at Mott’s Applesauce in upstate New York, a strike that generated national attention for the RWDSU and led to a strong new contract with wage hikes and benefit increases for more than 300 RWDSU members who are Mott’s workers.
To bridge the gap between union and nonunion retail, Appelbaum launched the Retail Action Project (RAP), a member-based organization with the mission of building worker power through collective action, elevating industry standards, and promoting family-sustaining jobs.
Under Appelbaum’s leadership, the RWDSU has also successfully pushed the New York City Council to pass the strongest municipal living wage law in the country, and secured numerous contracts for car wash workers, setting a new precedent for a previously unorganized workforce.
Appelbaum has been a leading national critic of Walmart’s harmful business model and mistreatment of workers, and has defeated Walmart’s numerous efforts in recent years to enter New York City, the largest and most coveted retail market in the United States.
A strong believer in the importance of political action and engagement, Appelbaum has turned the RWDSU’s electoral endorsement into a must-have for many Democrats in competitive races.