Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship’s unionized employees on Monday voted to go on strike if a fair contract isn’t reached by the May 1 deadline.
Members of Local 3 of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Workers union met yesterday to discuss the ongoing contract negotiations between the retailer and the union and voted to start picketing outside the flagship if negotiations aren’t finalized by May 1.
At stake for workers is a potentially historic contract that would provide commission for online sales. Employees are arguing that Bloomingdale’s has been encouraging customers to shop online since 2012, which has resulted in lower sales at the store. The union estimates that employees lost 20 to 30 percent of their income.
Online commission is only part of the problem, according to workers, who said that they’re asked to fulfill online orders or process returns for items purchased online, which takes them away from the sales floor where they can earn commissions.
Other issues the two sides are at odds over include health benefits and sick days as well as general wages.
“Workers have made it clear that they’re tired of losing wages,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Workers union. “They’re tired of losing wages to a company that isn’t invested in them. This is a work force where many members have spent 20 or 30 years working hard.”