- The RWDSU sent out a statement asking for customers to treat workers better this holiday season.
- Nearly 60% of workers in a recent study said that customers treat them worse during the holidays.
- The union emphasized that shortages and delays are not the fault of workers.
Retail workers are pleading with customers not to treat them poorly this
The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) put out a statement ahead of the shopping holiday imploring customers to treat workers with dignity and respect.
“Our members are eager to welcome customers back to stores this holiday season, but as incidents of harassment, violence, and hate continue to rise in stores workers are worried about their physical and mental safety,” the union’s statement said. The RWDSU represents over 100,000 US workers across retail chains, grocery stores, warehouses, and other industries.
Workers in service and customer-facing roles across the economy have spoken out about abusive customers and difficult work conditions lately. In a new survey of 2,000 workers, 59% said that treatment from customers gets worse around the holidays. The conditions could get even more stressful for the 40% of workers who said that they were afraid their employers wouldn’t have enough workers to handle the busy retail season, and 43% said that their employers haven’t done anything to prepare for increased workloads.
“The supply chain is still precarious as we emerge from the pandemic. Retail workers bear the brunt of shoppers’ frustration,” the union’s statement said. “Tempers quickly rise when customers hear that coveted holiday items are stuck on shipping containers at sea and have been backordered for months; and especially if they’ve gone to multiple stores only to go home empty-handed.”
Backlogs at ports are reaching historic highs combined with a lack of workers and overloaded warehouses to make holiday shipping slower this year, Grace Kay reported for Insider.
Instances of workers on the receiving end of abuse and extreme disrespect from customers have continued to appear over the past 18 months. Workers have reported attacks and aggressive customers in restaurants, big box stores, on flights, and in other settings. This treatment is bolstered by the “the customer is always right” mantra that gave customers license to treat workers poorly, Avery Hartmans reported for Insider.
“Workers are not to blame, and stores should provide security, safety protocols, and training to handle irate shoppers this season,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said.
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