NEW YORK, NY), – Today, Macy’s Inc. held an investor meeting to announce their three-year Polaris Strategy, which includes plans to close 125 retail stores. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which represents workers at several Macy’s stores (including the flagship store at Herald Square in New York City) issued the following statement in response:
“The only way to secure jobs and to ensure you can survive a layoff when it happens is to have a union. Too many retail workers don’t have a union. For the thousands of at-will retail workers who lost their jobs this year due to store closures and bankruptcies, a union could have made a difference.
“There’s no doubt that technology is changing the retail industry, with store employees being displaced by distribution center workers. But the retail industry had begun a transformation long before the rise of e-commerce. For decades we have seen part-time jobs replace full-time careers in the retail industry. This shift has been accompanied by inadequate hours, unpredictable scheduling, lack of healthcare, and no real path to retirement. Workers have had to work at multiple jobs to just make ends meet. Many retail workers can’t afford to shop in the stores where they work. In addition, inhumane working conditions in massive warehouse facilities are hidden from the public eye.
“Unions can ensure workers have protections in place to be able to survive frequent store closures and mass layoffs, as well as improve working conditions for warehouse workers in our shifting retail landscape. Union contracts can ensure workers are treated with dignity and respect when stores close and layoffs happen. Without a union contract, workers have no recourse, and when companies close stores or fold entirely, they’re too often left with nowhere to turn. Our union has continually negotiated contract provisions to ensure workers can earn a living wage, have access to affordable healthcare, part-time employment benefits, job security and a path to retirement.
“We agree workers are the real magic of Macy’s stores, and they must be part of the brand’s realignment to the change in the retail industry. Our union has pushed for years for improvements to the customer experience, which includes investments in workers and stores. We will discuss that at the bargaining table in the coming months when we negotiate our new contract,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).