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Bloomingdale’s Workers Voted to Strike on May 1st if a Fair Contract Isn’t Reached

Yesterday, with the May 1 contract deadline just a week away, unionized Bloomingdale’s workers at the iconic East 59th Street store, voted to go on strike if a fair contract isn’t reached by the deadline.

 

Workers at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, who are members of Local 3 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, gathered yesterday for a meeting to discuss the ongoing contract negotiations between the union and the company. Given that several bargaining items are still unresolved, workers moved to hold a vote to strike on May 1 should the union and the company not be able to reach an equitable agreement. 

 

The members voted to go on strike, which would start picketing outside the store on May 1 should the contract negotiations not be finalized by the deadline. At stake for the workers is a potentially historic contract that could give workers commissions for online sales. The company has been pushing customers to shop online since 2012, which has resulted in workers losing anywhere from 20-30 percent of their annual wages.

 

Online sales commissions would only remedy a portion of wages that workers have lost in recent years. Many workers are asked to fulfill orders for shipping, or process return items sold online or in-store, and that takes them away from their sales floor time, which hurts their wages, because for many of them 100 percent of their pay is made on commissions. The company is also asking workers to increase the number of in-store credit cards they sign customers up for, the discounts on which also puts a dent in their wages. Other impasse issues include, general wage increases, the medical and sick day benefit fund, contract holidays, and potential firing of workers who are in deficit to the company due to the lack of commissions workers receive for non-sales work.

 

“The workers have made it clear tonight that it is critical that we reach a fair and equitable contract by Monday, May 1,” said Cassandra Berrocal, President of Local 3 of the RWDSU. “We do not take a vote that would cause workers to go on strike for the first time in 50 plus years lightly and I urge the company to recognize the non-sales work that our members have been increasingly asked to do. I sincerely hope, and our members hope, their work is recognized in the new contract and that it is ratified on May 1 – but tonight’s vote sent a clear message on how important fair pay is.”

 

“Bloomingdale’s will only continue to exist if the company invests in its workforce,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW. “The members of Local 3 of the RWDSU have made it clear tonight that they are tired of losing wages to a company that isn’t invested in them – this is a workforce where many members have spent 20-30 plus years working at this iconic New York store and the fact that the company won’t recognize the hard work they do every day to adapt to the changing of the retail industry is deplorable.”

 

This year marks the 80th year that 2,000 Bloomingdale’s workers at the flagship store have been unionized and represented by Local 3 and the RWDSU. The last strike by workers took place in 1965 and lasted 15 days.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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