Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Macy's Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

By ELIZABETH LeSURE (Associated Press Writer)

NEW YORK - The union representing 3,500 workers at four Macy's department stores - including the flagship Herald Square location - has voted to authorize a strike if talks with store management fail to resolve a contract dispute.

Sales associates, tailors, stock clerks, gift wrappers and other workers at the Manhattan store and three others in Queens, the Bronx and White Plains voted over the past week to authorize a walkout, union spokeswoman Carolyn Daly said Monday. At issue are health care payments and wage increases, she said.

"We're not asking for the moon. We're asking for basic things that people need," union president Ken Bordieri said.

The union's contract expires on March 3.

Macy's has proposed increasing the portion of health care premiums that workers pay from 50 percent to 60 percent and raising deductibles from $2,500 to $3,000, Daly said.

Macy's employees earn an average of $11 an hour and work roughly 35 hours a week, Daly said.

The four New York-area Macy's stores are among more than 850 department stores operated by Federated Department Stores Inc. Federated, which employees roughly 244,000 people nationwide, also has Bloomingdale's, Famous-Barr, Filene's and Marshall Field's stores.

The Macy's flagship store is known as "the world's largest department store." Macy's also produces the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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