Contract Includes Company Recognition of Commission Losses from Online Sales and Will Help Pull Workers Out of Deficit to the Fortune 200 Company.
Today, Local 3 members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU-UFCW), who work at Bloomingdale’s iconic 59th Street flagship store, ratified the first ever contract that recognizes workers struggling with diminished wages from online sales over the past five years. The hard-fought contract, which was settled nearly 13 hours after expiration on the afternoon of Monday, May 1, acknowledges the increasing number of non-sales tasks that workers have been asked to do since the company began pushing customers to shop online in 2012.
Under the new agreement, which was ratified this evening by an 88% approval vote of the members of Local 3, RWDSU, the company can no longer require sales associates to handle order fulfillments or other non-sales duties and cannot require members to leave their department when any viable sale opportunity is present. This agreement will begin to remedy a portion of the, on average 20-30 percent, loss in wages that workers have suffered in recent years. The company also agreed to wipe off $2,500 of each employee’s commissions deficit; and the company will also convert several department’s pay systems from draw v. commission to hourly wages to also provide relief. In the new hourly conversion departments, general wage increases will also apply.
This is a huge win for sales workers at Bloomingdale’s, because most are paid solely on commissions in a draw v. commission system. Other wins for workers in the new contract include; general wage increases, and an increased percentage of company funding for medical and sick day benefits.
“I am proud of the stand our membership-driven negotiations committee took to point the spotlight on a growing epidemic in retail – online sales, which negatively impact our membership, which is largely a commission based sales force,” said Cassandra A. Berrocal, President of Local 3 of the RWDSU, UFCW. “It is long overdue that the company recognizes the hard work our members do every day to ensure that customers return to the Bloomingdale’s brand – especially in an age where they can no longer compete on price but must compete on brand loyalty. The work our team did brought general wage increases, increased the portion the company will pay for medical benefits, and secured our benefit fund – I know this contract will ensure all Bloomingdale’s Local 3 members earn fair wages for their work over the next four years.”
“Today’s 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 who will now have a model with which to fight for fair pay for non-sales work,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW. “In addition to the recognition of associated online sales, this contract also sets the standard for contract fights during the Trump era and it shows that worker’s collective voice will never be silenced in our country.”
“As my first experience on the contract negotiations committee I am truly amazed by the tenacious spirit the team brought to the table,” said Betty Lloyd Bloomingdale’s Swimwear and Coats Sales Associate. “We worked long into the expiration to ensure that the voices of workers were heard by the company – this contract will finally recognize the 20 percent in wages we have lost over the past five years due to online sales.”
“The general wage increases fought for in this contract will help workers in my department exponentially over the next four years,” said Jimmy Eisenberg, Bloomingdale’s Display Associate. “And the company’s increased contribution to our medical plan will ensure myself and my co-workers have the coverage we need in our especially injury susceptible display construction work.”
“The acknowledgment of the work handled by the night team in this contract is especially critical for me and my team,” said Chandler Taylor, Bloomingdale’s Overnight Crew Member. “Our work ensures that the store can operate each and every day and I am pleased that this contract recognizes the increasing amount of work we’ve been asked to do in recent years with the increase in online fulfillment from our flagship store.”
“Customers don’t know that we work on a draw v. commission system that puts so many members of the salesforce in debt when we can’t meet our draw,” said Brenda Moses, Bloomingdale’s Domestics Sales Associate. “When we spend time with a customer only to hear that they want to go online at home to complete their purchase we aren’t able to meet our commission goals and go into deficit to the company. This contract erases our debt up to $2,500 and will help put me and my fellow co-workers on a path to earning commissions for our work again.”
Mario Cilento, President of the NYS AFL-CIO said, “On behalf of the 2.5 million members of the New York State AFL-CIO, I want to extend my congratulations to the leadership and members of RWDSU Local 3 for the agreement announced between the union and the company. Your display of solidarity, strength and determination has paid off. I am particularly proud of the show of support from our affiliate unions who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers and sisters of RWDSU Local 3 throughout this fight. It is our proven commitment and dedication to one another, as well as our willingness to stand together and speak with one voice, that continues to make us a strong, successful and unified labor movement.”
“I commend RWDSU Local 3 members on reaching a new four-year contract, which for the first time compensates the hardworking staff for the important role they play in the company’s online sales," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "At a time when workers are seeing proposed cuts to hard-earned wages and benefits, the raises and increases in healthcare and pension contributions in this new contract will help these workers live and retire with dignity in NYC. I congratulate RWDSU Local 3 on this contract win, and on the work it is doing to maintain good, family-sustaining jobs at Bloomingdale’s.”
“On May Day, RWDSU has secured a great victory for Bloomingdale’s workers. Hard working New Yorkers like those at Bloomingdale’s deserve fair wages and benefits, especially with the large increase in online shopping that has put more demand on them. Today’s agreement is an important milestone in recognizing the exceptional work they do every day interacting with customers from all over the world. The Independent Democratic Conference and I will continue to fight for workers’ rights alongside the unions that protect them,” said IDC Leader Jeff Klein.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “New Yorkers deserve fair pay and good benefits for their hard work. That is why I applaud the final contract agreement between Bloomingdale’s and the RWDSU. When businesses invest in their employees everyone prospers, and I am glad to see a win-win agreement result from these negotiations.”
“Congratulations to RWDSU and the New Yorkers who organized for better pay and better benefits – you’ve proven yet again that collective bargaining works. Thanks to Bloomingdale’s for understanding that it will do better when workers do better,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Senator Diane Savino said, “I am thrilled that after negotiations, the workers who are at the forefront of one of the most premier retail locations in the world are getting what they deserve. As times change, so do the requirements of a work day. We expected their increased workload to be recognized, and it will be. Thank you to Bloomingdale's for recognizing this, but a big thank you to the rest of the labor world for standing in solidarity with their union brothers and sisters.”
State Senator Mike Gianaris said, “New York's hard working men and women deserve fair contracts, and this new agreement is welcome news. We must continue to advance conditions for working people and I will continue to stand with and support the workers that make our state all it is.”
"I am very pleased that the RWDSU and Bloomingdales have come together to reach an agreement on a fair contract that recognizes the needs and realities of hard-working retail employees. In the current hostile political climate, unions and union contracts are more important than ever to ensure that the benefits of our growing economy are widely shared by those who make that growth possible," said State Senator Liz Krueger.
State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “The agreement between RWDSU Local 3 and Bloomingdale’s on a new four-year contract is a great win for retail workers. By recognizing the increased amount of new work, increasing wages, and contributing more towards pension and medical benefits, Bloomingdale’s and Local 3 have set a new standard for retail workers here and across the country.”
“I am very pleased that Bloomingdale’s and the RWDSU have come to an agreement on this groundbreaking contract that puts the needs of workers first. As online sales take up a larger percentage of retail sales, it’s important that companies like Bloomingdale’s adapt their workplace policies for the 21st century. This retail contract is the first in the nation to recognize the increased amount of work that sales workers are being asked to do in the age of online sales. Workers everywhere have the right to make their voices heard, and I am glad that Bloomingdale’s did the right thing and came to an agreement,” said State Senator Marisol Alcántara.
“Today's agreement is a fair resolution for Bloomingdale’s and their 2,000 employees who work in District 73," said Assemblymember Dan Quart. "Bloomingdale’s is a staple in our city and their workers are the backbone of its success. I am glad that all parties involved were able to come to the table in a timely fashion and find common ground to put together a fair, modern contract.”
Assemblymember Michael Blake said, “As we celebrate May Day, commemorating the advocacy and sacrifice of workers and immigrants around the world, I am pleased to hear that Bloomingdale’s and its workers have come to a contract agreement. The contract, affecting more than 2,000 Bloomingdale’s workers, including many hard-working Bronxites, at its East 59th Street flagship store, includes a general wage increase to non-commission staff, requiring Bloomingdale’s to pay a greater percentage towards pension and medical benefits, and a recognition of the increased amount of work required of sales workers in the age of increasing online sales. As a son of labor, I am excited to see this clear demonstration of the power of unions to help workers get better wages, benefits and continue to show how we are #BuildingABetterBronxand a greater New York.”
Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said, “This contract is an important win – and came after important advocacy from the RWDSU and its partners. We have to be a city that delivers fair wages, that gives everyone a fair shot. From wage increases to greater pension and medical contributions from Bloomingdale’s, this contract reflects critical steps forward. I’m so pleased for the employees, their union and President Stuart Appelbaum for reaching a successful resolution.”
“I am glad that Bloomingdale’s has agreed to this fair and reasonable new contract that will stand for workers’ rights and ensure proper treatment of retail employees. Negotiating this contract was not only the right thing to do – but also necessary to ensure the safety and financial health of Bloomingdale’s workers,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Wage increases, protection of fair schedules, and affordable health coverage should be common sense, and we will continue to stand for economic and labor justice for all workers.”
“Bloomingdale’s is a jewel of Lexington Avenue, and it’s the dedicated workers there who truly make it shine,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “I am very pleased that this agreement acknowledges the new reality many retail workers face, while also preserving middle class wages and benefits for 2,000 Local 3, RWDSU/UFCW members at the Bloomingdale’s flagship store. I applaud management and labor on this new contract -- reached on May Day no less -- which could serve as a model throughout the retail sector.”
“I want to congratulate Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU and the workers of Bloomingdale’s and the leadership of Bloomingdale’s for achieving a successful outcome for thousands of working families,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Once again, the RWDSU has come through and shown that it is possible to achieve contract agreements that allow for both profit and fair pay. Tonight, thousands of New Yorkers will sleep better knowing they will be able to provide for themselves and their families.”
“A contract with fair wages and fair benefits is all the workers from RWDSU Local 3 wanted. I am glad to see their hard work has paid off. This is a message sent to businesses that while we may be living in the digital age, workers’ rights must always be respected. As a former union delegate myself, I am proud to stand with members of RWDSU Local 3, and I congratulate them on this victory. This is positive progress in the fight to bridge our city’s income inequality gap,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.
“Congratulations to RWDSU Bloomingdale’s workers on a contract that recognizes they are the foundation of Bloomingdale's success. This deal provides these hardworking men and women with the wage and benefits increase they deserve. It has been an honor to join them in this fight, not just for their benefit, but for all working New Yorkers,” said Council Member Rory Lancman.
Contract provisions include:
The historic contract negotiated at the 11th hour will last for a term of four years and avoids what would have been the first strike by Local 3 Bloomingdale’s 59th Street workers in 52 years. This year marks the 80th year that 2,000 Bloomingdale’s workers at the flagship store have been unionized and been represented by Local 3 and the RWDSU, UFCW. The last strike by workers took place in 1965 and lasted 15 days.