TALENT SEARCH FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD Let Them Vote!
By Stuart Appelbaum, President
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
Housing Works – which provides housing,
healthcare, job training, legal assistance, and
other supportive services for people living
with HIV/AIDS – has spent the year disrespecting its workers and doing
everything it can to deny their right to unionize. As Housing Works workers
have fought for better jobs and to improve their clients’ care, their bosses
have disregarded their progressive roots in favor of old-school unionbusting
tactics. An organization with roots in radical activism retained a
high-powered union-busting law firm who has now appealed to a Trumpappointed
labor board to do their dirty work and crush their worker-driven
Caribbean Life, August 14-20, 2020 23
union organizing campaign.
And, much like President Trump himself, they seem to have no
problem bending the truth to suit their motives. While Housing Works
has long claimed neutrality in this campaign, the truth is they have
fought their workers every step of the way. While they claim to want a
free and fair union election, they are fighting to suppress their workers’
rights by indefinitely delaying the election. Housing Works sees their
workers’ conviction and are afraid they will lose.
Housing Works’ latest move is outrageous, but also predictable from
an organization that has continually betrayed its progressive roots. Early
last month, the Brooklyn Region of the NLRB ruled that Housing Works’
reasons for continuing to delay the union election were not legally
sufficient to stop the election and ordered ballots to be mailed to workers
as they agreed to do in February, long before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing Works responded by appealing to Trump’s labor board in D.C. In
their appeal they are asking to delay the election indefinitely, and are
asking the union to re-sign up all workers to join the union – destroying
over a years’ worth of work by their workers in favor of a “redo.” While
publicly they continue to claim they want all of their workers to vote, their
latest move lays bare their motive: to silence their workers’ voices by
crushing the workers’ organizing drive.
The 650 Housing Works employees at housing units, thrift stores,
healthcare, and other locations throughout New York City have been clear
from the outset that they need union representation to address a number
of important issues and to provide their clients with the best possible care.
Workers at Housing Works have raised serious concerns to management,
describing unmanageable caseloads, lack of training, discrimination and
harassment and health and safety issues. Workers have raised concerns
about pay and benefits, including that their health insurance doesn’t
provide adequate coverage, such as for workers transitioning genders.
These workplace concerns are central not just to employee welfare,
but to client care as well, with these issues leading to high turnover rates
It is time for Housing Works to remember their roots for the good of
their workers and their clients. By carrying on like the worst of corporate
America, they bring shame to their entire organization. They need to stop
fighting the election they’ve long claimed they want to see, and they need
to start behaving as if their long-stated public stance of “neutrality” is
real, not just public relations obfuscation.
We demand of Housing Works: Let your
workers vote! Stop the misinformation, stop the
union-busting, and allow your workers to exercise
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