Talks continuing to avoid strike at Macy's flagship store

AP News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2016 2:14 AM
Talks continuing to avoid strike at Macy's flagship store

NEW YORK (AP) — Contract negotiations between Macy's and the union representing workers at the company's flagship store in New York City continued early Thursday in an effort to reach a deal and avoid a strike.

The union said workers would not go on strike Thursday morning, but if no agreement is reached, they are prepared to strike later in the day. The current contract expired at midnight Wednesday.

Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents the 5,000 workers including the 3,500 from the store, said key issues that still need to be resolved include health care, unpredictable schedules and pension plans for senior employees.

The store, a tourist attraction famous for its prominence in the city's Thanksgiving Day parade, has not had a strike since 1972.

Branch stores in the Bronx, Queens and White Plains, New York, are prepared to strike as well.

"In these continued negotiations for a fair contract at Macy's, we have support from countless leaders and allies in New York and across the country," Appelbaum said. "Macy's needs to move quickly to put in place a real framework for a new contract that addresses the needs of workers."

Seeing the threat of a strike as real, Macy's placed ads seeking temporary workers in local newspapers including The New York Times. Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan said negotiations are ongoing.

"We are committed to keeping the lines of communication open and continuing the talks round-the-clock with the goal of reaching an agreement that is fair and equitable both for our workers and the company," Kazan said. The ads seeking temporary workers are a "standard but necessary practice" to ensure preparedness in the event of a strike.

The labor dispute comes as Macy's struggles with slowing sales growth and intensifying competition on all fronts.