By  on November 21, 2007

NEW YORK — More than 1,000 workers at nine Hennes and Mauritz stores in Manhattan have voted to become part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

The union now will begin negotiating a contract for the workers. Because of the start of the holiday season, serious discussions weren't likely to begin until the new year, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU. The union is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and represents more than 5,000 people in the city working for Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

"We worked diligently with the union to ensure that the entire organizing process was fair and democratic," a spokeswoman for H&M in the U.S. said in a statement. "H&M has always enjoyed good relations with unions worldwide, and we are confident that we will continue to build upon our new relationship and partnership with the UFCW."

Appelbaum declined to discuss specific issues that will be on the negotiating table, but a statement released by the union on Tuesday shed some light on topics likely to be at the top of the list.

"The workers at H&M have been very clear that they want to see a change for the better in their wages, benefits and working conditions, and we want to get to work to help make that happen," said Frank Bail, president of Local 1102 RWDSU UFCW, which will represent the workers.

H&M has more than 100 stores in the U.S. and more than 30 in Canada. Appelbaum said New York will be a test for future agreements at H&M stores across the U.S. However, no organizing efforts are under way in other areas.

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