New York’s Herald Square could be flooded with more than tourists Thursday morning—Macy’s workers are gearing to strike if a labor contract isn’t reached by the stroke of midnight.
More than 3,500 workers from the retailer’s flagship store and 1,500 from three other locations said they will walk out on work if they can’t settle on a contract that includes a more affordable health care plan, preserved pensions and changes to scheduling.
“Negotiations are ongoing between now and the contract deadline,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) told Crain’s New York Business. “Nobody wants to go on strike. But if a company forces us into a position where we have no choice, then we will strike.”
Talks are expected to continue until midnight.
Macy’s spokeswoman Elina Kazan reportedly said the company is committed to keeping communication open to reach an agreement that is “fair and equitable both for our workers and the company.”
According to Crain’s, neither side seems willing to bend—Macy’s went far enough as to put out ads for “Temporary Retail Sales Replacement Workers” for Herald Square, Queens, Parkchester and White Plains stores, noting that the time-stamped job is “in anticipation of a possible labor dispute.”
In a tweet Sunday, CWA District 1, which supports workers in local unions in New York, New Jersey, New England and Eastern Canada, wrote to Macy’s: “We fixed your ad, @Macys. We stand with RWDSU workers prepared to strike for a fair contact!” A photo accompanying the tweet shows Macy’s temp job ad with “Scabs” scrawled across it, making the ad read, “Macy’s is hiring…scabs” instead of “Macy’s is hiring…temporary sales and support associates.”
“While many of the issues are resolved and off the table, there are still serious issues that have yet to be resolved, and therefore we must be prepared to keep our stores open and operational should there be a call by the union to strike,” Kazan told Crain’s.
Negotiators from RWDSU met with Mayor Bill de Blasio and presumptive democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton last month to brief them on the negotiations, according to Crain’s, and though both were reported as being “encouraging” not enough progress was made since.