Bloomingdale’s workers rally in NYC to demand contract that includes online sales commissions, other benefits

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The 2,000 workers, members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, want a cut of online sales commissions as they argue people shop in the store, but buy on online.

Workers at Bloomingdale’s famed flagship store are fighting the company over a new contract, rallying Tuesday with city pols as a May 1 deadline looms to resolve the showdown.

The 2,000 workers, members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, are demanding a cut of online sales for the first time.

They also want keep commissions on purchases that are later returned, and stop a move by the store to eliminate their pension plan and replace it with a 401(k), among other gripes.

“People come from all over the world to this flagship store. They come here to buy the world’s most expensive products,” said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum. “We have to send a message to management — when these customers are coming here and buying Gucci, Ralph Lauren, all types of fancy products, maybe just maybe they should think about the hard workers who sell those products.”

With more and more shoppers turning online to shop, sales people say they’re losing out and should get some commission on those purchases.

That would not work like a traditional commission system, but could be done by dividing a percentage of the sale among the employees who work in the department the item comes from, said the union’s lead negotiator Allen Mayne.

The workers are also fighting to keep their pensions and commissions on returned purchases.

“People are using the store as a showroom. And you can literally come to the store, try on several different things, spend a couple hours, get great service. Then you go, ‘You know what … I’m just going to order it and have it delivered to my house, I don’t even want to carry it,’” he said.

The workers’ contract expired March 1, and was extended through the end of this month.

“We’re focused on reaching a fair and reasonable agreement that recognizes our associates’ commitment to the customers,” said Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman Anne Keating, adding the company is “optimistic” a deal will happen.

She said commissions for online sales do not appear to be a “feasible thing” given the difficulty of tracking the person responsible for a given sale, but declined to comment further on details of negotiations.

At a rally outside the iconic Third Ave. store, pols blasted the retailer. “When this store says that they can’t afford to negotiate a decent contract that provides wages and benefits and dignity for their workforce, they are lying through their teeth,” said state Sen. Diane Savino.