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Retail Braces for Transit Strike

NEW YORK — As the threat of a New York City transit strike continues to loom large, retailers are scrambling to cobble together contingency plans to get their employees to work in the stores.<br><br>Anxious to make sure that Macy’s stores...

NEW YORK — As the threat of a New York City transit strike continues to loom large, retailers are scrambling to cobble together contingency plans to get their employees to work in the stores.

This story first appeared in the December 12, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Anxious to make sure that Macy’s stores are sufficiently staffed should a work stoppage against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority begin after the weekend, the retailer is setting its emergency snow plan into action.

“We have a snow emergency plan that’s always in place, so we’re sort of building on that,” said a spokeswoman for the store. “We’ve looked at the demographics of our employees geographically, and we’ve determined that we will have enough employees to open the stores as usual if there is a strike — and we hope there is not.”

Macy’s also has a phone number in place for employees to call shortly after midnight on Sunday, as well as an internal Web site that store managers can use to get up-to-date employee communications.

“We are also putting in play a pay incentive if there is a strike,” said the spokeswoman, for those employees who do make it to work during the strike. “We are asking our employees to make every effort to get to their jobs, whether it is by carpooling, taxi or walking.”

The company acknowledged that initially stores may open a bit later, but at this juncture it hasn’t made plans to accommodate shoppers. “We feel that shoppers will do what they have to do to get here. New York is a walking city.”

Other retailers are either still working out contingency plans for their employees or waiting for more news on the deadlock in hopes there will be no strike, and they will receive a reprieve.

Ed Burstell, vice president and general manager at Henri Bendel, said the store is putting a plan together in tandem with its parent company, Limited Brands. Although nothing official has been released, the company is in the process of running associate lists by zip code in order to identify possible carpooling combinations. Should a strike occur, Mayor Michael Bloomberg intends to limit automobile access in Manhattan to cars with four or more passengers only.

“We’re working on a plan now, and once we have some more details we’ll be able to release it,” a spokesman for Saks Fifth Avenue said Wednesday. “But it needs to be in place by end of day Friday in order for us to notify employees, so we should know more tomorrow.”

Barneys New York does not have a contingency plan in place as of yet either.

“We’ll act accordingly as soon as we know more details,” said a spokeswoman from Barneys New York.

Strike-related updates are available online at http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us.