Thursday, June 16, 2011

Macy’s deal with NY workers averts strike

A midnight deadline passed, but union and store negotiators pulled an all-nighter and reached agreement Thursday on a five-year contract for nearly 4,000 workers at four Macy’s stores.

By Daniel Massey

Police barricades were up in front of Macy’s flagship Herald Square store in preparation for a picket line Wednesday night, and as late as 2:30 a.m., it appeared a strike could happen.

But negotiators from Macy’s and Local 1-S of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union worked past a midnight deadline and reached an agreement just before 7 a.m. on a new five-year contract. The deal covers four New York City-area stores and nearly 4,000 workers.

Details of the contract were not immediately available, but the union’s 35-member negotiating committee unanimously endorsed the agreement and some were said to be exchanging high-fives in the moments after it was reached.

“When working people stand together in a strong union, they’re able to make gains for themselves and their families,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “I’m pleased that the company was willing to share its success with its union members.”

A Macy’s spokeswoman said the tentative deal resulted from “tremendous efforts by company and union negotiators” and that it reflects “the economic and business realities of the retailing industry, while keeping jobs at Macy's among the best in the department store industry.”

The tentative contract will be signed at 5 p.m. Thursday, after which the union will take it to its members at the four stores—at Herald Square and in Queens, the Bronx and White Plains—for ratification votes. Voting will begin tonight in Herald Square and continue through Wednesday.

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