October 30, 2014
The 22nd Quadrennial Convention of the RWDSU was held from August 2 through August 7 in Orlando Florida. President Cassandra A. Berrocal led the Local 3 delegation along with Secretary-Treasurer Shaun Kavanagh and Recorder Costello Dash. The delegation included Vice Presidents Brenda Moses, James Eisenberg, Jack Rojas and Stewards Ernestine Evans, Clarence Prester and Mark Spellman.
In accordance with the RWDSU Constitution, a Convention of delegates elected by the membership of each local is held every four years to review the Union’s past activities and to determine the Union’s course of action for the next four years. The RWDSU officers who will be responsible for carrying out the plans of the Union are elected by the Convention. We are pleased to report that Local 3 President Cassandra A. Berrocal was elected to serve as a Vice President of the RWDSU for a four year term.
The delegates adopted the programs enacted by the RWDSU on behalf of working people since the last Convention. The victory following the 17 week strike conducted by the workers at Mott Snapple in upstate New York, the 1200 new members in a poultry plant in Alabama, the victorious NLRB elections of the car washers in NYC, and the leading role played by the RWDSU to achieve Sick Leave Pay as well as the Living Wage Campaign were resoundingly applauded by the delegates.
The buoyant union spirit of the delegates filled the hall from the beginning to the end of the Convention. There were no empty seats during the sessions and everyone was glued to the video presentations that showed the activities of RWDSU members in various states.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, made several references to the 2012 Local 3 Contract with Bloomingdale’s. He referred to the many innovative features in the contract including work shift protection, the addition of paternity leave, LGBT protection, improvement of the return policy and the carpenter’s annuity fund. Some Local 3 delegates were assigned to work on the various Convention committees and spent time working to guarantee the free flow of the Convention.
One of the most important Convention committees established to determine the union’s course of action for the next four years is the Civil Rights and Immigration Committee. President Berrocal was assigned to co-chair the committee and spent many hours involved with the committee’s work.
The Local 3 delegates were particularly pleased when it was announced that Alexandra Alcantara, daughter Local 3 member Edwin Alcantara, is a recipient of the Alvin P. Heaps scholarship. Alcantara has been a Local 3 member since 1986. Alexandra is a SWSP baby born on September 12,1995.
The late Ernest Gadson and the late Willie Anderson, both very active Local 3 members during their employment at Bloomingdale’s, were included in the Memorial observed by the Convention.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addressed the Convention. Trumka congratulated the delegates on the work being done by the union under the leadership of RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum and RWDSU Secretary- Treasurer Jack Wurm. A highlight of the Convention was the presentation delivered by Dr. Linda Rae Murray, President of the American Public Health Association; an economist whose remarks regarding racism and gender inequality were met by thunderous applauds. She also reminded the delegates about the attacks mounted by big business against labor and by some state governments against public sector and private sector unionized workers.
The work being done by the RWDSU for the working poor was acknowledged by every speaker who addressed the Convention.
The most important resolution passed by the Convention was the Union’s campaign to bring the benefits of union membership to all non-union workers. “Building Strength and Organizing” was the first resolution to receive animous support. The resolution on civil rights, women’s rights and immigrant rights received a standing ovation. The many abuses in the retailing industry received serious attention by all the delegates, especially after comparisons were made between the terms and conditions in unionized retailing establishments and those in non-union shops. Many RWDSU locals exists in “right to work for less money States” where the laws make it difficult for workers to join a union. The important Resolution #5, Deepening Our Dedication to Civil and Human Rights, received special attention.
“The Convention’s motto ‘Building Strength’ will be carried out by every Local Union within the RWDSU by involving the rank and file and by fighting for justice and equal opportunity for all,” vowed Local 3 President Cassandra A. Berrocal.