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Fears of SF Holiday Shopping Mayhem as Macy’s Staff Threaten Strike

Written by Kevin V. NguyenPublished Dec. 13, 2022 • 12:35pm
The Macy's Union Square location in San Francisco is pictured on Feb. 19, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

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A potential labor strike at Macy’s could seriously derail city plans to revitalize Union Square and cause holiday shopping mayhem in the process. 

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

But after three years of failed negotiations, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 (UFCW5), a union representing retail workers, is holding a strike action vote. Should the vote pass, cashiers and customer-facing representatives at Macy’s could stop working this holiday season. 

UFCW5 held a behind-closed-doors vote at the Handlery Hotel in Union Square from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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

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. 

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