Showing posts tagged Bloomingdales

    Big Wins for LGBT Workers in New Bloomingdale's Contract

    A new union contract offers cutting-edge benefits including paternity leave and strong anti-discrimination language. But the vast majority of LGBT retail workers still lack basic protections.

    More often than not, it’s a dirty look or some unspoken signal that a customer would rather deal with another salesperson. Every now and then, things turn outright hostile, as happened recently for Desmond Anthony, an employee at Zara in New York City.

    The young retail worker was talking with a group of gay male visitors when a female customer approached and said, “You’re going to hell. I don’t want to shop here. I feel uncomfortable.” Anthony, who is also an actor, knew how to maintain composure, but the other men followed the woman to another part of the store, where an altercation ensued, complete with a tossed shoe.

    No one was injured, and management comforted the customer. “We’re sorry that this happened and we understand how you feel,” she was told.

    That response did not surprise Anthony, who said that the climate for LGBT people in his store could be so precarious that at least four managers opt to remain in the closet. He said the lack of an explicit non-discrimination policy makes it difficult for management to interject when shoppers express antigay sentiments, let alone ask those articulating such comments to leave the store. Instead, customers are always right, even when employees have been wronged.

    “You do know that you are not protected if something happens, God forbid,” he said. “They have this clause in our contract that if you are not fitting the company’s image, they can get rid of you, where it basically comes down to discrimination. That’s dangerous because they don’t clarify what they mean by that, because if you are more flamboyant, or if you wear makeup, it’s just not allowed.”

    Research suggests that Anthony’s experience is not uncommon for non-unionized employees who make up the overwhelming majority of workers in retail, a fast-growing industry that attracts LGBT people in disproportionately high numbers. Compared to finance and law, industries that topped the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 Corporate Equality Index, workers in retail, which ranked a decent third, routinely lack health insurance, live with low compensation, and contend with unpredictable “just-in-time” scheduling. The situation is outlined in “Discounted Jobs: How Retailers are Selling Workers Short,” a report from the Retail Action Project (RAP), a New York City-based membership organization of retail workers, many of whom identify as LGBT.

    “It’s an industry that welcomes self-expression, but it’s also lower wage and so it attracts workers encountering other barriers because of sexual orientation or especially gender non-conformity,” said Carrie Gleason, executive director of RAP. “Retail is where a lot of LGBTQ workers find employment. That said, most retailers lack proper policies to deal with workplace harassment and discrimination on the sales force, and when you work retail, you’re dealing with the public, not just your mangers and co-workers.”

    Race, gender and immigration status exacerbate the problems. The majority of retail workers in New York City are people of color, and nearly half are immigrants, proportions that hold for the LGBT portion of the workforce. According to the RAP report, women and people of color are overrepresented in low-wage frontline retail positions, where they find less access to benefits and fewer opportunities for raises and promotions.

    Advocates hope that a groundbreaking new contract secured by the employees at Bloomingdale’s will influence the industry to make improvements. Last month, members of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union Local 3 ratified a five-year collective bargaining agreement that strengthened protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. The agreement, which covers 2,000 employees at Bloomingdale’s flagship store in Manhattan, also includes a new paternity benefit for gay men in marriages and domestic partnerships, which union sources believe could be the first of its kind in a retail contract. Wage increases, enhanced benefits and more employee control over scheduling are also part of the contract.

    “The fact that Bloomingdale’s and RWDSU have been able to come to an agreement to extend paternity leave for same-sex couples is phenomenal,” said Gleason. “It’s unheard of in the industry and it’s a huge stride.”

    Read the full story in today’s Advocate.com.

    • 1 year ago

    WOR News Talk Radio 710: Bloomingdales Workers Protest Over Wages, Health Care

    New York, NY - Hundreds of Bloomingdale’s workers in New York City have taken to the streets to demand a better contract with the company.

    Mark Spellman was among the workers rallying outside Bloomingdale’s flagship store on Third Avenue today.

    Union officials representing some 2,000 Bloomingdale’s employees say they are in negotiations with the company on a new four-year contract, but a large bridge divides the two sides when it comes to wages and health care.

    Many employees say they are barely making ends meet as it is, and having to pay more for their health care would be disastrous for them. Union officials say Bloomingdale’s sales have been particularly strong according to numbers released by parent company Macy’s Inc., and they’d like to see some of that profit trickle down to the workers.

    • 2 years ago

    WNYC News: RWDSU Local 3 Demands New Contract

    Workers at Bloomingdale’s flagship location on 59th Street rallied outside the store Wednesday, asking why the company’s strong profits are not translating into better compensation for its workers.

    “Bloomingdale’s is just fine — no, they are doing more then just fine — they are raking it in,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. He addressed a crowd of more than 75 workers and union members wearing green t-shirts. The flagship store’s roughly 2,000 unionized sales clerks, shelf stockers and clerical workers are demanding better pay and benefits from the iconic department chain. The current contract expired March 1, and the workers are in the midst of a two-month extension while negotiating with the store.

    Bloomingdale’s declined to comment on ongoing negotiations, but said they are working to find a solution that’s “fair and equitable to both parties.”

    But workers say a fair contract would better compensate them.

    Read more.

    • 2 years ago

    Several city and state labor leaders participated in a walk-through at Bloomingdale’s flagship store on Third Avenue in Manhattan on Wednesday, April 11, to speak with RWDSU Local 3 members who work at the store. Local 3 is currently in negotiations with the company for a new contract for the 2,000 employees who work there.New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, and UFCW Region One Director and Vice President Richard Whalen will joined Local 3 President Cassandra Berrocal and Local 3 leadership and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum for the event.

    Join city & state labor leaders in showing support for Bloomingdales workers by liking the Local 3 Facebook page!

    • 2 years ago

    Crain's: Labor leaders to visit Bloomies

    The show of strength comes as the retailer negotiates a new union contract with employees.

    Look out, shoppers. Bloomingdale’s might be a little more crowded than usual on Wednesday. As the retailer negotiates a new union contract, five city and state labor leaders will conduct a walk-through at Bloomingdale’s East 59th Street flagship on Wednesday afternoon.

    Read more.

    • 2 years ago

    Labor Leaders Walk-Through at Bloomingdale’s to Show Support for RWDSU Local 3 Members

    Several city and state labor leaders is set to participate in a walk-through at Bloomingdale’s flagship store on Third Avenue in Manhattan on Wednesday, April 11, to speak with RWDSU Local 3 members who work at the store. Local 3 is currently in negotiations with the company for a new contract for the 2,000 employees who work there. The walk-through is scheduled for 3 pm.

    New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, and UFCW Region One Director and Vice President Richard Whalen will join Local 3 President Cassandra Berrocal and Local 3 leadership and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum for tomorrow’s event.

    “New York’s Labor leaders are coming together to show that a fair contract for Bloomingdale’s isn’t just a priority for RWDSU Local 3 members and the UFCW, but also for organized labor throughout the entire city and state,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.

    As Local 3 members stand strong for a new contract, Bloomingdale’s and its owner, Macy’s Inc., are enjoying brisk sales and growing profits. News sources say Bloomingdale’s generated more than $600 million in sales in 2010, and Macy’s Inc. saw its profits grow 48 percent last year.

    “Macy’s, Inc. and Bloomingdale’s are enjoying a period of financial success, and Bloomingdale’s workers deserve to be compensated fairly,” Appelbaum added.

    • 2 years ago

    Crain’s: New Yorkers cracking open wallets

    “It is evident that the luxury consumer has been shopping,” said Julia Bentley, senior vice president of investor relations at Saks. “The health of the luxury business is correlated to the health of the financial markets, so as the markets have recovered, so have revenues.” This is another indication that Bloomingdale’s can clearly do what’s right for its workforce. Read more.

    • 2 years ago
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    Retail Sales in U.S. Rose in February by Most in Five Months

    Retail sales in the U.S. rose in February by the most in five months, reflecting broad-based gains that indicate the world’s largest economy is picking up even as gasoline costs climb. This is an indication that Bloomingdale’s is in great financial health. It’s time that they do what’s best for the Bloomingdale’s NY 59th St store workers too. 

    • 2 years ago

    Stay Informed on Bloomingdale's Negotiations

    Contract negotiations with Bloomingdale’s NY 59th St began this week. Find out more on the Local 3 website, and be sure to “like” Local 3 United Storeworkers on Facebook. If you work at the Bloomingdale’s NY 59th St store, email local3.rwdsu@gmail.com and sign up for email updates.

    • 2 years ago
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