June 10, 2011
Reprint June 8, 2011 RWDSU/UFCW
Today in New York City, hundreds of union members and activists gathered in front of the famous Macy’s store in Herald Square to call upon the retail chain’s management to bargain in good faith with RWDSU Local 1-S and negotiate a fair contract for the workers there.
The hot sun was no match for Macy’s workers and the labor leaders, elected officials, and union members who came out for hours to support them. Shoppers and tourists joined in, dancing, rocking, and singing along with a band that was adept in changing the lyrics of popular songs to reflect the fact that Macy’s a profitable company is pushing for concessions from workers to line its corporate pockets.
“Day-O” became“Macy’s,” and “daylight come and I wanna go home” became “discount your goods not your employees,” with onlookers quickly picking it up and joining in. Passerby stayed to listen to the music, hear speakers, and read pamphlets which highlighted the fact that the real “magic behind Macy’s,” the working men and women who have made shopping there such a quintessential New York City experience are currently negotiating for a fair contract.
Over 4,000 RWDSU members work at Macy’s stores in New York, including the flagship Herald Square location in Manhattan, and stores in Parkchester, Westchester, and Queens.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum (above) noted that the successful Macy’s has a chance to set the tone as a responsible corporate citizen at a time when many companies are engaged in a race to the bottom for workers’ pay and benefits, noting that last year, the CEO of Macy’s, Terry Lundgren, earned more than $15 million in total compensation more than any other CEO of a retail company.
“Clearly Macy’s is in a position to offer decent wages, benefits and hours which is all that the 4000 workers we represent want. But the company is pushing back and saying it cannot afford to do this, despite paying its executives record high compensation. This is a textbook case of corporate excess and greed,” Appelbaum said.
“But Macy’s has the power to turn the page and offer a different lesson. It is in a financial position to boost job standards for its New York City workers in the next contract and substantially raise the bar for many other retail companies. Simply put they can afford to do the right thing,” Appelbaum added as the crowd roared.
Appelbaum was joined by labor leaders like RWDSU Local 1-S President Ken Bordieri (below), UFCW Region 1 President Rich Whalen, President of Communications Workers of America Local 1180 Arthur Cheliotes, and Mario Cilento, who represented NY State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes. All called upon Macy’s to do what is right and share their success with Macy’s workers.
RWDSU Locals rallied behind Macy’s workers, with RWDSU Local 3 President Cassandra Berrocal and RWDSU Local 1102 President Frank Bail both on hand to offer words of support. RWDSU Local 338 members were there to show solidarity with their union brothers and sisters.
Elected officials including NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, New York City Council Member James Sanders Jr., Assemblyman Rory Lancman, and New York City Council Member Letitia James spoke to the swelling crowd and encouraged workers to keep pushing till they meet their goal of a fair contract. Meanwhile, negotiations with Macy’s continue, with the end result still unclear.
What was clear was that Macy’s workers are resolved to stand together and fight for what they believe is right. And it was also clear that they will not be alone in this battle that a large and diverse coalition is with them both in the streets and at the bargaining table.