Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union members strike outside Bloomingdale’s on April 18.
Two looming labor strikes were averted at the last minute this week after some difficult negotiating over new worker contracts.
At Bloomingdale’s department store on 59th St., members of Local 3 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU-UFCW), secured a new contract that for the first time addresses wages lost to online sales.
The deal hammered out between Bloomingdale’s and the union — reached 13 hours after the strike deadline had passed — contains provisions acknowledging the increased number of tasks workers have to do to fulfill online orders without getting any commissions on the sales.
Under the new terms, Bloomingdale’s will no longer require sales associates to handle online sales or help with order fulfillment.
Sales associates can also stay on the floor to tend to customers when a sale opportunity presents itself, the contract said.
These steps will help restore the roughly 20 to 30% loss in wages workers have suffered in recent years, RWDSU said.
Bloomingdale’s workers get a contract after striking to demand cuts of online sales as well as other benefits.
Bloomingdale’s also agreed to convert several department pay systems from commission-based to an hourly wage.
That concession was a big boost for the workers, according to the union, because many were paid solely on commission.
The deal also included a wage increase for hourly workers and an increase in company contributions to medical and sick day benefits, RWDSU said.
Cassandra Berrocal, president of Local 3, said online sales were an “epidemic” in the retail world — and had decimated the commission pay structure for workers in brick-and-mortar stores.
“I know this contract will ensure all Bloomingdale’s Local 3 members earn fair wages for their work over the next four years,” she said.
Bloomingdale’s will no longer require sales associates to handle online sales or help with order fulfillment.
Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU president, called the agreement a “model” for other retail unions to follow.
“The recognition of the work Local 3 members do to support sales from the company’s online platform is a huge victory not only for these 2,000 workers, but for commission paid workers across the country,” he said.
A day after RWDSU reached its agreement, another potentially distruptive strike was averted when the Writers Guilds of America East and West announced a deal on a three-year contract.
The Guilds, which represent TV and film writers — many of them freelancers — had threatened a job action if an accord with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers wasn’t reached.
A strike would have affected many popular reality TV shows and also shows like “SNL.”
But both sides pulled out a last-minute deal that granted Guild members a 3-year deal.