The unofficial start of the 2023 holiday shopping season will have some notable drama this year.
Hundreds of Macy’s workers Friday announced a countdown to an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike at some of the busiest stores in Washington, including Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham and Southcenter Mall in Tukwila.
Striking workers will kick off picket lines on Black Friday — Nov. 24 — with a Macy’s Striking Workers Parade at Southcenter Mall, according to a news release from macysunited.com.
The workers’ campaign — Macy’s Workers United — is running ads asking shoppers to respect strike lines and shop elsewhere if they see picketers outside Macy’s stores.
More than 14,700 shoppers have already signed the pledge to respect striking Macy’s workers.
UFCW 3,000 workers at Macy’s say the corporation is not doing enough to address shoplifting, violent shoppers, and other safety threats to workers and customers. Workers also say their pay isn’t keeping up with the cost of living.
“Macy’s seeks to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial to the colleague, company and union,” a Macy’s spokesperson said via email.
Liisa Luick, a Macy’s Alderwood sales associate in the Macy’s Men’s Department, said she witnessed someone shoplifting she called Macy’s managers and then mall security. But they refused to help, according to Luick.
So she called 911 to protect Macy’s, her customers, and herself. Macy’s immediately disciplined Liisa for calling 911, putting her on unpaid leave for more than two weeks, Luick said.
While Macy’s eventually provided back pay, at these low wages, two weeks without pay is a major hardship. UFCW Local 3000 has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Macy’s for disciplining Liisa because their actions were in relation to her involvement in union activities.
“Now we are afraid to call 911 when safety issues come up because we worry we will get in trouble, or even lose our jobs,” Luick said in the release. “Workers don’t feel safe in our store, and now they are scared of retaliation so they’ve stopped calling for help when they see a threat. Macy’s needs to step up and make our stores safer for workers and customers.
“I’m asking our customers to shop elsewhere this holiday while we are on strike.”
Azia Domingo, a Start Team member who has worked for Macy’s for 21 years, explained why she and co-workers are ready to strike.
“I love my job, and creating amazing displays for our customers,” Domingo said in the release. “Macy’s is making billions of dollars and paying their CEO $11 million a year, but most of us workers are struggling to make ends meet. Pay isn’t keeping up with inflation.
“We shouldn’t have to question whether we can afford to have health insurance and go to the doctor. Until Macy’s shows that they respect and value us with better security and better pay, they will lose more workers. I hope our customers will stand with us in this fight and not shop at Macy’s while we are striking.”