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SF Macy’s staff will strike on these crucial holiday shopping days

A Christmas tree is lit up in front of the illuminated storefront of Macy's in San Francisco's Union Square.
The Macy’s building stands behind the Christmas tree at Union Square in San Francisco on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

All retail workers at the Macy's store in Union Square will strike on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 this holiday season, a union representative said.

After three years of failed negotiations, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 (UFCW5), a union representing retail workers, held a behind-closed-doors vote Tuesday that passed overwhelmingly.

UFCW5 organizing director Jim Araby told The Standard, "all retail workers" will strike after a 93% vote in favor of the action.

San Francisco has been battling to claw visitors back to Union Square this holiday season with a number of measures including beefing up security.

The impasse reached boiling point last week when the union alleged that Macy’s negotiating party abruptly left negotiations. In an internal memo sent to union members viewed by The Standard, UFCW5 also said that Macy’s latest offer was unacceptable.

The union alleged that Macy’s wanted to eliminate seniority positions, lay off merchandisers and eliminate sales employee’s full-time work guarantees, and the company only offered a raise of less than a dollar over the next three years. 

Macy’s Inc. and the Union Square store were contacted for comment.

Mayor London Breed speaks at a press conference at Union Square on Nov. 15, 2022, in San Francisco. | Paul Kuroda for The Standard

“It’s really unfathomable that a corporation like Macy’s that made over a billion in profit the last 12 months, would propose such drastic concessions," said John Nunes, UFCW Local 5 President. "Macy’s workers face the same impacts from rising inflation that the rest of the Bay Area has, and they deserve a fair contract that recognizes their hard work and sacrifice over the past couple years.”

In November, Mayor London Breed and a host of business leaders unveiled a new strategy to revamp Union Square, which had been experiencing a downturn in traffic after the pandemic and negative publicity stemming from a spate of viral burglaries

UFCW5 and Macy’s have been bargaining since June 2019 before agreeing to a brief extension of their existing contract in May. In Macy’s third quarter annual report, the company said it was operating “from a position of strong financial health—with appropriate levels of inventory, a strong balance sheet with ample liquidity, investment grade credit metrics and fixed interest rate debt in a rising interest rate environment.” 

According to their published balance sheet, net sales were down 3.9% compared to the same time last year, and up 1.1% versus the same quarter in 2019. 

This is a developing story.

Kevin V. Nguyen can be reached at