Some retailers might find themselves short of licensed merchandise due to a two-hour protest strike Wednesday morning by 200 workers at a warehouse where they label, store, pack and ship clothing around the country.
The workers are employed by Freeze, a clothing company that produces and distributes logoed sportswear under licensing agreements with Disney, WWE, Nickelodeon, 20th Century Fox, Hanna-Barbera and Nintendo. The workers are striking over what they consider to be unfair labor practices including low wages.
Freeze’s retail customers include Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Burlington Stores. Freeze is based in New York City but its apparel warehouse where the strike occurred is in Dayton, N.J.
“Frankly, we’ve been frustrated in trying to get a fair deal for many many months so we’ve asked for a meeting with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,” said Megan Chambers, a senior union official with Laundry, Distribution & Food Service Joint Board, Workers United, SEIU, a labor union that represents thousands of apparel distribution workers in northern New Jersey.
Chambers, who has been coordinating the strike and contract negotiations, said the meeting will be held Aug. 22, though negotiations between the union and Freeze could occur in the meantime.
Chambers said Wednesday’s strike did not lead to a resolution.
According to Chambers, Freeze handles an “enormous” volume of merchandise nationally, not just regionally, and ships to stores, other warehouses and direct to consumers. She said the strike would have inevitably delayed some deliveries.
According to the union, the average wage at Freeze is below $9.50 an hour, amounting to gross pay of about $360 per week. Even employees with 15 years of service earn below $10 an hour, the union noted.
“Many Freeze workers are parents, and they are suffering. The workers voted overwhelmingly in favor of conducting a strike today to protest unfair labor practices by Freeze. These are long-term, full-time workers with families to support, aging parents to care for, and they are barely surviving. They deserve a fair union contract that includes $15 an hour and affordable, quality health care,” said Chambers.