Macy's workers prepare to strike

From Crain's New York:

by Rosa Goldensohn

Macy's Herald Square might be in for some marching Thursday morning, but it won't resemble the retailer's traditional parade.

Instead, more than 3,500 workers from the flagship store, along with 1,500 others at three other locations, plan to walk the picket line if a contract with store management is not reached when the clock strikes 12 Wednesday night. 

Members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union want a more affordable health care plan, preserved pensions and changes to scheduling and commissions policies, according to union president Stuart Appelbaum.

"Negotiations are ongoing between now and the contract deadline," he told Crain's. "Nobody wants to go on strike. But if a company forces us into a position where we have no choice, then we will strike."

The company and union leadership will negotiate until midnight, both sides said.

“With the deadline to reach an agreement nearing, we are continuing to negotiate, in good faith, on the issues still remaining on the bargaining table," Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan said in a statement. "We are committed to keeping the lines of communication open and continuing the talks round-the-clock with the goal of reaching an agreement that is fair and equitable both for our workers and the company." 

But both union and management appear to be playing hardball. Macy's placed ads for temporary replacement workers in local newspapers this week in order to stay in operation during a walkout.

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