Jan 26, 2024 | News Story

RWDSU Members Rally for Worker Safety

Retail worker members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) rallied with elected allies in Herald Square yesterday for a rally announcing the Retail Worker Safety Act. For retail workers toiling on the front lines, retail violence is a growing workplace issue. RWDSU conducted a survey of their members related to workplace violence and found the following:

  • Over 80% of respondents are worried about an active shooter coming into their workplace
  • Nearly ⅔ of respondents experienced verbal harassment or intimidating conduct from a customer, co-worker, or manager within the last year.
  • More than half of respondents have received no training from their employer about how to respond to shoplifters
  • Only 5% of respondents agreed with the following statement: My employer has made changes in the workplace after a violent incident in order to make my work safer.
  • Nearly ¾ of respondents would feel safer if they received regular training on how to be safe in the workplace, including understanding the risks, how to reduce those risks and what to do in the event violence occurs.

Based on these findings, as well as the reality of mass shootings in retail settings and the increase in daily violence, it is clear that we have reached a crisis point in this industry and its the time to act.

To address this problem, the RWDSU is working with Senate Labor Chair Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Karines Reyes, Chair of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, to introduce a bill at the state level in New York called the Retail Worker Safety Act. This bill will require retail employers to create safe working conditions for their employees by implementing ongoing preventative trainings, conducting regular risk assessments, and keeping detailed records of incidents of workplace violence

“Retail workers should not have to go to work each day worried about their safety,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU. “Retail work is already stressful enough. But then add on top of that the constant threat of being harassed, assaulted or even killed, and the job becomes significantly more stressful. Employers must take full responsibility to protect their workers from violence. And it’s not that hard to do: conduct a risk assessment of the workplace, mitigate as many risks as possible and train workers to understand and prepare for the risks that remain for them and their customers. And this is not just about worker safety; it’s also about protecting customers. A 2022 nationwide study showed that the majority of retail fatalities were actually customers simply running errands. Creating a safe workplace for workers makes everyone in our community safer. Let’s pass the Retail Worker Safety Act now.” Read more here.