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Macy's Strike Averted as Union Reaches Tentative Deal

By DNAinfo Staff on June 16, 2011 7:10am  | Updated on June 16, 2011 6:45am

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — Macy's workers will remain on the job after the retail giant reached a tentative deal with its union Thursday morning after a marathon bargaining session.

"Following an all-night negotiating session, Macy's is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with Local 1-S of the RWDSU on a new five-year agreement," Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan said in a statement.

"This is a solid contract and it reflects the fact that our workers are the true magic of Macy’s," said Ken Bordieri, president of Local 1-S, which represents 4,000 Macy's employees, including those who work in its flagship Macy's Herald Square store.

The union had warned that they would go on strike Thursday if a deal was not reached by midnight, but the store and the union agreed to continue their talks past the deadline in the hopes of reaching a deal.

After weeks at the bargaining table, the two had been stuck on several points concerning wages, an new online scheduling system and proposed changes to benefits, according to a source close to the negotiations.

The union touted the agreement as a demonstration of the power of collective bargaining.

"The workers at Macy's today are sending a clear message to working people throughout this country: when people join together in strong unions, they can fight back and win," Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU said in a statement.

"It is a lesson that working people everywhere need to understand."

More than 200 union leaders and Macy’s workers had filled the streets outside the department store's 34th Street flagship last week to protest what they slammed as "unreasonable" concessions they said would drive down wages, compromise benefits and undermine seniority at a time when the company is thriving.

Many Macy's workers make as little as $7.50 an hour, the union says.

Throughout the process, Macy's had dismissed the demonstrations and threats to strike as "expected parts" of the negotiating process.