The threatened strike against Macy’s is off the table.
Macy’s and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, representing 5,000 New York City-area employees, blew past Wednesday’s midnight deadline and negotiated through the early-morning hours to reach a tentative contract agreement and avert a strike.
The contract covers workers at Macy’s Herald Square flagship and stores in the Bronx, Queens and White Plains, N.Y.
“We are pleased with the outcome of our overnight negotiations and happy to report that a tentative agreement between Macy’s and Local 1S for our workers has been reached, therefore averting a possible strike today,” a Macy’s spokeswoman said.
A source close to the union called the wage increase in the new contract “substantial.”
Health-care benefits, a major sticking point, were resolved. The source said the new contract features a better plan with much lower and more affordable deductibles for workers. The union said the cost of health benefits for a single person is $75.
A concession on the part of Macy’s is no longer requiring employees to work on holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
“Macy’s wanted to make Thanksgiving and Christmas mandatory but lost that battle in negotiations,” said the source.
Employees were also seeking protection of retirement benefits. There was no word on whether the issue was addressed.
“This contract is a major victory for Macy’s workers and for New York City,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union, UFCW. “It raises the bar for what retail jobs can be and should be. We had the support of many leaders and allies in our effort to secure a fair contract for these brave and dedicated workers. This contract shows that Macy’s workers are the real magic of the company. It’s a major step forward for the entire retail industry.”
Employees of Local 1S had been without an employment contract since May 1 when the three-year contract expired. Bargaining continues as part of a 45-day extension period with June 15 at midnight as the new deadline.
Local 1S said there would be a strike if the contract wasn’t resolved by the June 15 deadline.
Macy’s took the strike threat seriously, taking ads in local newspapers seeking temporary workers. The last time Macy’s employees held a strike was 1972.
“A deal has been reached for a new contract for 5,000 unionized Macy’s workers in the New York area,” a spokesman for Local 1S said.