NY Sex Shop Workers Vote to Unionize

By JoAnne Powers

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Last week, workers at Babeland in New York City announced that they voted overwhelmingly, 21 to 4, to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), becoming the only currently-organized adult sex-toy store in the country.

Katherine Wolf, a Brooklyn Babeland worker who prefers the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them,’ attributes this to the strength and unity of the workers across Babeland’s three stores and support from RWDSU.

“They’ve been phenomenal. They’ve been so supportive and really great. We’re all stoked to be working with them. We had really tried, for a very long time, from before I started working there, to air some of the things that were serious grievances in the workplace and tried to talk to folks and change things. And just nothing moved, therefore we decided to unionize,” said Wolf.

The workers chose to organize around a number of major work issues including job security, consistent scheduling and a safe path to air worker grievances. The workers are also calling for stronger policies to protect workers from harassment by customers and protections for trans and gender non-conforming employees.

“Because of the nature of our work, there are a lot of people from various marginalized communities who are drawn to work there: transgender and queer-identified people, people who do sex work, people who are from low-income communities, women, people of color. Kind of the base of workers at Babeland are super-diverse and come from really interesting intersections, and I think that one of the really cool things about organizing Babeland is that we’re bringing a different kind of political analysis to the labor movement around trans-inclusion and what feminism looks like in the year 2016. That feels really exciting and really significant,” Wolf added.

Columbian Mine Workers Vote to Strike

The 1,600 Workers at the world’s largest nickel mine have voted to strike if wage negotiations continue to stall.

The Cerro Matoso mine in Columbia is owned by Australian-based company South32, which wants to cut the workforce by almost 20 percent. The company is also asking to cut benefits and proposing an effective pay cut for workers by pegging their salary increase at only half the rate of inflation.

A strike at the mine in April of last year caused an increase in nickel prices worldwide