May 2, 2012
A “Miracle on 59th Street” that Will Impact Entire Retail Industry
New York, New York—Today the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW announced the ratification of a new five year contract with Bloomingdale’s covering 2000 workers at the company’s flagship store on East 59th Street in New York City.
The contract, negotiated and ratified by Local 3 United Storeworkers of RWDSU, includes wage increases; enhanced benefits; more control over hours and scheduling; and other pro-worker provisions.
Specifically, the contract provides for: a $3.05 per hour general wage increase over five years; more options for healthcare coverage and lower costs in the existing plan; and unprecedented seniority protections and flexibility in the scheduling system that go further than any other union contract with a large retail company. Senior employees can now choose their preferred hours first, and all workers will get to choose one weekend off a month and the late nights they want to work. Managers must respect and honor the choices made by workers. The right of workers to arbitrate over scheduling is maintained.
The scheduling provisions build upon and exceed what Macy’s Inc. agreed to last year in a contract for all workers at their global flagship store in New York City that was negotiated and ratified by RWDSU. This particular victory will have industry-wide implications because it comes as many retail workers struggle with underemployment and find it difficult to get the hours they want and deserve. A recent study of the retail industry in New York City revealed that only 17% of workers have a regular schedule.
In addition, no existing benefits will be eliminated in the contract; paternity leave will be offered for the first time; LBGT nondiscrimination language will be added for the first time; commission rates will be increased for a large percentage of commission employees; the return policy for merchandise will be reduced from 180 to 150 days and to 120 days by the end of the contract; and a punitive evaluation system known as ADR will be replaced by a new review system focused on enhanced worker training.
“This contract is truly a miracle on 59th Street,” said Cassandra Berrocal, President of Local 3 United Storeworkers of RWDSU. “Overall, it’s the best contract we have ever negotiated, and it will improve the lives of our members for many years to come. We fought hard and won big. We showed what can be accomplished when working people stand up for what is right.”
“We set a higher standard for how Bloomingdale’s and the retail industry should treat employees,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW. “This contract is a powerful reminder that unionization is the best way to improve the quality of retail jobs. We will use this contract to organize many more retail workers across the city and country.”