Watch CBS News

Workers at Macy's flagship San Francisco store go on pre-Christmas strike

Macy's workers in San Francisco begin 2-day strike
Macy's workers in San Francisco begin 2-day strike 01:33

SAN FRANCISCO -- Last-minute shoppers in San Francisco's Union Square  are likely to run into picket lines at Macy's Friday.

Macy's worker strike
Macy's worker strike CBS

Union workers there officially went on strike at midnight after three years of failed negotiations to get a new contract. 

Employees are seeking better health care coverage and pay. They voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike Thursday after getting what they call is a substandard offer from Macy's.

Longtime Macy's worker Bridgett Redd told KPIX they just want to feel appreciated and safe when coming to work.  

"I have always considered Macys as a family. Because I think if you spend 33 years in a company, you look to them as a family," said Redd. "But we want to also make sure that we're appreciated as a family."

Redd said having to go on strike was a difficult decision, but necessary one.

"I hope they pass an agreement that fair to the workers," said Redd. "And I know that we aren't going to get everything we want, but there should be a happy medium that you at least respect the workers." 

A sea of Macy's workers was picketing outside main the entrance of the Union Square store, demanding increased wages after UFCW Local 5 rejected Macy's latest offer that included a wage increase of less than a dollar.

"The employees have been through a lot since COVID in the last three years," said UFCW Local 5 President John Nunes. "They have had a lot of anxiety and stress. They feel like they should be rewarded more than just 2.5%. We're asking for closer to 4% for these workers, which is still way under what the inflationary environment is in this area."

Those walking through Union Square were greeted with the chant, "Don't shop at Macy's!" That turned some customers away.

"You know what? This isn't fair," said a shopper who gave her name as Lydia. "I'm going to a different store. I can't support Macy's if they are doing that to their employees. I can't do it."

Workers said another concern workers is health care coverage.

"The company wants to eliminate full-time workers and replace them with part-time workers with no benefits," said Nunes. "And the benefit issue is also a concern of full-time workers. They only cover 1/3 of the workers at this facility. So 2/3 workers go without healthcare benefits."

The strike is set to continue until 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, taking some of the holiday cheer out of last-minute gift buying at the flagship store.

Macy's issued a statement that said, in part, "At Macy's, our top priority is to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers. Our Macy's Union Square store remains open to customers and colleagues." 

Officials also said that they hope to reach an agreement soon.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.