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Macy’s Workers Begin Contract Negotiations

By Mike Andrew

Macy’s workers have begun bargaining for their new contract, with an initial bargaining
session March 18 and another one March 25. Their present contract
will expire on May 2.

Workers at all seven Macy’s stores in the Puget Sound area are covered by the
contract, and are represented by UFCW 21.

The stakes for workers are high, according to members of the negotiating team who met with community allies, including PSARA, at UFCW’s Georgetown headquarters March 18.

Lead negotiator Matt Wood told the meeting that Macy’s management is trying
to restructure jobs at the retail icon. While full-time jobs are defined as 37.5 hours
per week, many workers are seeing their hours cut to 12 to 20 hours. As full time
workers are losing hours, they are also expected to take on more responsibilities.

Negotiating team member Nicole Booker said that several times she was the only
salesperson covering an entire floor. Obviously customers are dissatisfied with the
slow service that results from understaffing, and when they complain, store management
disciplines the employees, she added.

The bonus for the company is that workers need to work 32 hours per week to
qualify for a full healthcare plan. Employees who work less get only catastrophic
healthcare coverage. Workers also report that since raises depend on the number
of hours worked, part-time workers can go for years before they qualify for a raise.

“We need raises all through the pay scale,” negotiating team member Sharon
Shearson told the meeting. “Even at the top of the pay scale, we only make 20 or 30
cents above minimum wage.”

Minimum wages raise another issue, Wood said. While workers at the Seattle
store are eligible for pay increases leading to a $15 per hour minimum wage by
2018, workers in other cities are not covered by Seattle minimum wage ordinance.
The union hopes to win comparable wage increases at all seven area stores.
Workers say the stakes go far beyond dollars and cents, however.

“This isn’t just a job for us,” negotiating team member Joe Fabiano said. “It’s what
we feel and what we do, and we don’t want some corporation defining what we
are.”

PSARA members will get a chance to bring the fight for a $15 per hour minimum
wage to Macy’s on April 15, a Day of Action for $15 per hour. We can show our solidarity
with Macy’s workers and let the whole city know that $15 is just the beginning!

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