New York, NY – Macy’s workers returned to work for the first time in three months and they were eager to get back. But their employer refused to provide temperature checks at its White Plains facility so the workers’ union, RWDSU, stepped in. [Watch Video Below]
The Mid-Hudson region officially opened for business on Friday, which includes White Plains.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Hudson Valley had met the metrics to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.
“The global public health experts advising New York State have reviewed the data and numbers for the Mid-Hudson region and cleared this part of the state to move ahead into Phase II of the reopening,” Cuomo said.
“New Yorkers have been smart and disciplined throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is essential for residents and businesses to continue to follow all necessary precautions to ensure the virus does not spread as we advance the Mid-Hudson reopening,” the governor continued.
Mike Jones, vice-president of RWDSU Local 1-S, which represents a total of 4,300 of Macy’s workers in the Mid-Hudson region, was busy taking temperature checks as the workers arrived.
According to Jones, Macy’s told the union that it didn’t need to provide temperature checks because there aren’t as many employees in White Plains as compared to those working at the company’s flagship store in Herald Square.
“Basically, because the company felt that only in the high-density stores, they needed to do temperature checks. Quite frankly, we were astounded by it,” Jones said. “It’s a matter of a point and shoot, but because these two smaller stores [White Plains and Parkchester] are ‘low density’ they felt it wasn’t necessary. So, we were forced to kind of pick up the slack. “[But] we believe it is the employer’s responsibility to do these checks.”
In a statement, RWDSU 1-S President Angella Harding, also expressed astonishment that Macy’s was overlooking safety at it’s Mid-Hudson stores.
“For Macy’s to consider workers at smaller stores more expendable than at their flagship Herald Square and their larger stores is inexcusable,” Harding said. “The safety of our members in White Plains and Parkchester is just as important, not only to their own safety, but to the safety of their community as any other store.”
Harding noted that the union will continue to step in and provide critical health and safety measures that protect not just members, but shoppers as well.
Meanwhile, Jones said that everyone he tested prior to the shift didn’t have a temperature check higher than the normal body temperature of 98.6 F, which meant that everyone could report to work.
“We’ve haven’t had any problems, no one has a high temperature,” he said. “It’s not taking a lot of time, it’s not taking a lot of effort, it’s a simple process that can help save lives, so we feel that it is something that needs to be done.”
Despite ongoing threat of COVID-19, many workers were glad to finally be reporting back to work after three months in quarantine.
Hubert Wiggins has been selling furniture at the White Plains store for over three years. He said the quarantine was tough, but he got by thanks to the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits from the second round of federal stimulus funds.
He thinks he’ll be busy selling a lot of furniture now that the economy is restarting.
“This is my first day back. I have to give a shout out to U.S. Senator Schumer for the extra $600 a week was a huge thing, but at the end of the day I’m the kind of person that…working in furniture has been very lucrative, so I am excited to get back to work,” Wiggins said. “And I do believe, sincerely, that there is pent up demand and that the customers are going to come back and spend money.”
Jones, however, warned that reopening has to be done safely.
“Everyone, of course, is stir crazy being locked up in the house, so it’s kind of good to come back to work, but it has to be safe,” he said. “Above all, it has to be safe. We don’t want the virus to come back and have us all be out of work, again, two or three months from now.”