In September, members of RWDSU Local 1102 at Saks 5th Avenue’s iconic flagship store in Manhattan ratified a contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract, which was settled shortly before the deadline, repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. The union’s hard-fought victory is not only a win for the approximately 100 Local 1102 members in Saks’ women’s shoe department, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that, because of Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously-planned nationwide implementation.
Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.
“I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, sales representative and Local 1102 Shop Steward and Executive Board Member. “In all my years at Saks never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”
“I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine-member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, President of Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that, because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, that they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”