NEW YORK — With the clock ticking toward a possible subway and bus strike here at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, retailers have taken steps to make sure sales floors are staffed during the shopping countdown to Christmas.
As for getting customers into stores without service to seven million daily weekday riders, that's another story.
"I'm in denial and just praying it's not going to happen," said Jeffrey Kalinsky, owner of Jeffrey New York. "It couldn't come at a worse time."
Transport Workers Union Local 100, representing 33,700 members, delayed a strike that had been set for 12:01 a.m. Friday. The decision by the union's executive board came after all-night bargaining with the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency, which runs mass transit in New York City and the northern and eastern suburbs. Instead of walking off their jobs for the largest U.S. public transportation system, the union called a strike at two private bus companies in Queens, N.Y., that are in the process of coming under the MTA's control. The major sticking point in negotiations appears to concern pension and health benefits givebacks.
The state's Taylor Law prohibits strikes by public employees, and the union and workers would face huge fines and pay sanctions. The last walkout was for 11 days in 1980.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has estimated that a strike might cost the economy as much as $400 million a day.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, corporate executives and other support employees — in the marketing, buying, advertising and visual departments — are prepared to staff the 10 selling floors of the Manhattan flagship, where there are normally about 2,000 associates.
"Probably 90 percent of our associates use some form of public transportation, and probably a third come from outside of the city," said Robert Wallstrom, senior vice president and general manager of the Saks flagship here. "But at least this is something that we can plan for, as opposed to a blackout."
Saks has designated areas of the loading dock for people to store bicycles or skates, if that's how they come to work. Some staff will be rescheduled to arrive at non-peak hours, perhaps coming in earlier and leaving earlier.
Steve Aoki held a presentation, a runway show and outdoor concert for his men's line Dim Mak. Here's a look from his spring 2018 collection, which was titled "Paradise Found." #wwdfashion #wwdmens (📷: George Chinsee)
"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)