Bloomingdale's, Workers Reach New Contract for Flagship Store

Bloomingdale's and the workers in its flagship 59th Street store have reached an agreement on a new contract for the store's 2,000 unionized workers.

The contract will increase the wage for hourly employees by $3.05 over five years and give scheduling priority to workers with seniority among other things.

“Given the economy and the overall picture, it’s an excellent package,” said Allen Mayne, a deputy director of field operations at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

A top item on the list of employee demands was alterations to the store's commission policy.

“Bloomingdale’s has an excellent return policy for the public, but unfortunately it’s very hard for the commission sales force,” said Mayne, who negotiated the terms of the deal on behalf of store workers, members of the Local 3 United Storeworkers Union. Under the new contract, the period of time that shoppers' returns can be deducted from workers' commissions will gradually be shortened to 120 days.

Under the previous contract — which expired March 30, but was automatically extended for 60 days — employees must forfeit the commission on merchandise returned to the store within 180 days.

“That was extremely significant for the sales force,” said Mayne, noting the change will not impact customers.

“I think we got a very good, a very fair contract,” said Ethel Morrell, a shop steward who works in the store’s home-goods section. “I think it’s one the best we’ve gotten in years.”

Bloomingdale’s declined to comment on the new contract except to say that "last night's positive vote covered a significant portion of a new contract, but we still have some work to do toward full ratification."

Union officials characterized outstanding items as minor.