Washington Macy’s workers strike for higher wages, better crime protection
Nov 24, 2023, 7:22 PM
(Photo: Kate Stone, KIRO Newsradio)
On the biggest shopping weekend of the year, employees at Macy’s stores across Western Washington are on the picket lines, striking over their pay and working conditions.
On Black Friday, the union for Western Washington’s Macy’s workers held a rally and procession at the Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila, complete with inflatables that drew comparisons to the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that had rolled through the streets of New York City just 24 hours before. Similar strikes are happening at two other Macy’s locations: Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood and the Bellis Fair mall in Bellingham.
After months of bargaining, the union representing the local Macy’s workers, UFCW 3000, still hasn’t been able to reach a deal with the company. Employees claim the company isn’t doing enough to keep wages up to inflation, address shoplifting, “violent” shoppers, and other safety threats.
Workers speak out
Azia Domingo has worked for Macy’s for 21 years and is currently employed at the Westfield location.
“Last year, there was a person killed in the south parking garage, and this crime tends to spill into the mall,” Domingo said. “In other high-profile incidents, two teens were wounded in a shooting at the mall last year, and another 17-year-old was shot and killed in the parking lot in 2021.”
Liisa Luick, who has worked at the Macy’s in Lynnwood for more than 15 years, says there’s no clear safety procedures in place, and employees are left virtually on their own.
“Macy’s intimidated and retaliated against me for calling security and 911 about a thief,” she says. “Macy’s has not bargained in good faith throughout this process, frustrating our ability to get to a fair contract. Macy’s has also attempted to restrict our ability to talk with our union representatives about workplace issues and bargaining.”
The workers have asked for on-site security and policy changes so employees feel they can call for help if needed.
“We all understand that retail theft is an issue nationwide,” Domingo said. “But what we are asking from Macy’s is to provide a clear and concise policy on what to do about security threats without the fear of retaliation, without the fear of being fired. And Macy’s has failed to do that.”
Elected leaders, community members and hundreds of workers also joined the rally. For King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, these issues hit close to home.
“I’ve seen the consequences of what happens when workers can’t make a living wage,” Zahilay said. “My mom was having to work three minimum wage jobs at a time just to make a basic living. And she ended up doing that to the point where she busted both of her knees standing all day, and now she’s disabled. I don’t want that for any workers in our region.”
The retail chain would not comment when asked about their safety policy, or if employees are disciplined if they call for help.
The company did provide a statement, however. It read, “Our top priority is to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers in-store. Our stores remain open to serve our valued customers as we continue to work through contract negotiations with the union.”
Macy’s confirmed all three stores will remain open during the strike, which continues until Monday.
More from Kate Stone: Voters may decide Washington’s climate law future
“I can’t say for sure, but I’ve seen several groups of people walking in with red badges which means that they are management or executives, (and they’re) rolling their luggage,” Domingo said. There have been rumors that (Macy’s) has been flying in out-of-state workers. It’s very disheartening if this rumor is true.”
The workers are asking customers to support them by not shopping at Macy’s through the weekend.
Head here to learn more about the strike.