The largest private-sector source of employment.
The retail sector is a growth industry and it’s essential that we turn retail jobs into good, middle-class jobs with fair scheduling practices for the sake of our communities, economy and country.
Retail is the largest private-sector employer in the economy. It is the third largest employer of women behind the healthcare industry and educational institutions and the second largest employer of people of color behind the healthcare industry. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 Current Population Survey).
While the retail sector continues to add jobs to the economy, many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions with high turnover.
Between 1990 and 2014, real wages for retail workers barely increased or, in many cases, actually decreased. After adjusting for inflation, the average wage at apparel stores fell one percent (from $12.12 to $12.01) and the average wage at general merchandise stores fell seven percent (from $12.36 to $11.51). (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, USD 2014).
But some workers in retail have decided to get together and go a different path. One of the best ways to raise wages in retail is through joining a union. The average department store salesperson working full-time earns $2.60 more an hour or $5,400 more per year if he/she belongs to a union. (BBNA, 2014 Union Membership and Earnings Data Book).
In addition to fighting for better wages, the UFCW is also fighting for greater control of and predictability in scheduling.
Manipulating schedules has allowed irresponsible employers to cut benefits, suppress wages and narrow the ability of retail workers to move up the economic ladder.
Within the UFCW is the smaller Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The RWDSU was started in New York in the 1930s and became part of the UFCW in 1993. You can learn more about the RWDSU here.
The top five UFCW Locals with the highest retail membership include:
- Local 951 (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
- Local 75 (Dayton, Ohio)
- Local 770 (Hollywood, Calif)
- Local 1059 (Columbus, Ohio)
- Local 1-S*(New York, N.Y.)