The New Reality
By Stuart Appelbaum, President
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
Caribbean L 12 ife, May 29-June 4, 2020
Vincentians urged to get
counted in US Census 2020
By Nelson A. King
The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and
the Grenadines (SVG) Diaspora Committee
of New York, Inc. on Monday
launched a massive campaign calling on
all Vincentian nationals in the United
States to be counted in the decennial US
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson
of the SVG Diaspora Committee
of New York, Inc., which is celebrating its
10th anniversary this year, said in a statement
that, in 2017, the US Census Bureau
American Community Survey estimated
that the number of Vincentians in the US
was about 24,000, with Central Brooklyn
recording the largest share.
She said that, this year, the 2020
Census will for the first time include a
question that will allow census takers to
identify their place of origin.
“This is an excellent opportunity for
Vincentians, also called Vincies, to be
counted,” said Mason-Haywood, stating
that “if attendance at the Vincy Day USA
picnic, which takes place in New York
annually, is any indication of the true
size of the Vincentian population, then
the Vincentian community has likely
Mason-Haywood said the Diaspora
Committee is urging Vincentians, and
other immigrant populations, “not to
be afraid of being counted, as there are
no questions on the census that asks for
citizenship status, and there are federally
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson
of the Brooklyn-based SVG
Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc.
Photo by Nelson A. King
enforceable laws that prohibit the
sharing of individual information.
“Census data is only shared in aggregate,”
she said, appealing to her compatriots
to “show up and get counted on the
census, so we can get the resources our
To further encourage the counting
of Vincentians in the US 2020 Census,
Mason-Haywood said the SVG Diaspora
Committee of NY, Inc. is launching a
social media campaign that will feature
Vincentian heads of organizations and
prominent Vincentian personalities on
Guyanese discuss food
By Tangerine Clarke
The Consulate General of Guyana,
New York and Guyanese in the Diaspora
Inc. (GID) combined the services of
experts to expedite information and
resources needed in the Guyanese communities
to help expatriates cope, amid
these challenging times of the coronavirus
The first, in a series of forum was
held on May 15, via a virtual platform
to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on
immigration and food insecurity in the
Guyanese community in New York city.
Senior Advisor for Legal Initiatives
NYC Mayor’s office, Attorney, Yasmine
Farhang, gave a comprehensive report
on the services available to residents
in many languages available on the
Mayor’s office website.
She said one of the greatest concerns
was the Public Charge Rule. The
Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs,
(MOIA) and its shared programs regarding
COVID-19 testing and treatment
will not make anyone seeking these
services a public charge.
Immigration is the biggest issue,
especially for undocumented immigrants.
The policy, however says
migrants should not fear seeking
healthcare during this time and all
immigrants should be able to access
emergency medical services.
The Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) should suspend all immigration
enforcement actions near hospitals
and other healthcare facilities, according
to MOIA. A pull-down menu with all
relevant information could be found on
this website www.NYC.gov/immigrants/
According to Immigration Attorney,
Melnia Cordis, minor immigration violations
are not a priority for ICE. She
advised on the options students, visitors
and other visa holders have for renewal
fees and all related documentation,
needed during this COVID-19 crisis.
Further information is accessible via
the USCIS website https://www.uscis.
As the Empire State takes its first tentative
steps toward reopening the economy,
nothing is more important than ensuring
we do it the right way. Part of this process will be
the reopening of retail stores, most of which have been shuttered since
March. And the single most important condition of reopening retail is
ensuring the safety of employees and customers.
Our union knows all too well that this is a matter of life or death.
Across the country, the RWDSU has lost dozens of members to the
Coronavirus scourge, and countless RWDSU families know the anguish
of losing loved ones to the COVID-19 disease. Tens of thousands of
RWDSU members will be putting their lives on the line when the
economy and retail stores further reopen, along with countless other
working Americans. With thousands of RWDSU members employed at
retail chains including Macy’s, Zara, Bloomingdales, and H&M, we
couldn’t be more concerned. We only have one chance to get this right;
getting it wrong – with potentially fatal consequences to our families and
communities – cannot be an option.
It all starts with wearing masks, which is probably the most important
thing we can do to protect people along with social distancing. All
employees, management, and customers should be provided masks as
they enter the store and they must be required to use them when they are
in the store. Consistent mask usage helps prevent transmission of the
virus, and it is a crucial component of any responsible reopening plan.
Employers need to commit to enforcing social distancing between
employees, and employees and customers. Plexiglass partitions need
to be constructed at all registers, and temperature testing needs to be
provided to all employees at the employee entrance when they begin
their shifts to prevent sick workers from entering the facility.
Employees need to be given more breaks so they can wash their
hands, and they need to be provided with sanitizer and gloves.
Employers also must make an unprecedented commitment to cleaning
and disinfecting their stores, cleaning all break rooms and restrooms on a
regular basis through-out the day. All employee areas need to be properly
supplied with paper towels and hand sanitizer. The same type of protocol
needs to be used for any equipment employees use, including registers.
And, all interactions between customers and employees need to be adjusted
to ensure safety. Gone are the days when employees would pass a
customer a phone to talk to credit card employees.
Stores need to be deep cleaned and disinfected at the end of the day,
and air circulation or air conditioning systems need to have proper filters
sufficient to clean the air from contaminates. Filters must be cleaned
We all want to see New York’s economy moving again, and we
want RWDSU members to be able to return to their jobs safely. This
means a real commitment from employers to doing this the right way.
We’ve made some progress in New York in the fight against COVID-19;
it’s proof that a scientific, health-driven approach can
work during these uncertain times. If we are going
to open our stores, we need to continue to
embrace this approach, and keep workers and
customers safe, protected, and secure.