Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Macy’s employees strike on Black Friday at Alderwood Mall

Protesters in Lynnwood called for better wages and safety measures. Staff at other Macy’s stores picketed in Bellingham and Tukwila.

LYNNWOOD — Starting around 3 a.m. Black Friday, about 150 Alderwood Macy’s employees picketed outside the mall, the first day of a strike expected to last three days.

Macy’s employees around the region protested on the busiest shopping day of the year, citing unfair labor practices. Picketers from the local United Food and Commercial Union 3000 called for higher wages, better employee safety measures and improvements to overall workplace culture.

Macy’s doors opened at 11 a.m., five hours later than scheduled. Store managers did not offer a reason for the delay. Macy’s also declined to say how many people were working during the strike.

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

A Macy’s spokesperson gave the following statement in an email:

“At Macy’s, we respect the rights of our colleagues. As always, 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.”

Union members have been negotiating a labor agreement with store management for three months, and so far, Macy’s executives have offered 50-cent raises, Hanumsha Budo said. Budo has been a Macy’s employee for almost 15 years, working at the Alderwood location for a little over a year.

“Your 50 cents won’t pay the rent,” the protesters chanted.

Sandiola Collaku, another 15-year Macy’s employee, said new hires are being started at higher wages than employees who were there longer. Macy’s employees also pay higher insurance premiums than other stores in the area, Collaku said.

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington, on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Staff encounter shoplifters almost every day at the Alderwood Macy’s, but management “refuses” to hire a police officer for security, Budo said.

Liisa Luick, an Everett resident and employee at the Alderwood Macy’s for nearly 16 years, said she was suspended for three weeks in May after alerting authorities about a shoplifting incident.

Luick said Macy’s claimed she signed a policy saying she wouldn’t call 911 in cases of shoplifting. She didn’t recall signing that policy.

“They have yet to produce that document,” Luick said.

When she returned from suspension, management placed her on a “last and final,” meaning if she had one more “violation” of company policy, her nearly 16 years at the Alderwood Macy’s would come to an end.

“Because of what happened to me, not only employees at this store but at all of the stores are hesitant to call anybody in fear of retribution,” she said.

Another employee at the protest, who would only give her first name as Kayleen, told of another time when an employee was attacked by customer. Coworkers were hesitant to notify law enforcement, she said.

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Macy’s workers strike on Black Friday at the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Washington on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

“They didn’t know if they could step in without being reprimanded,” she said. “They just kind of had to stand there and watch that person get attacked.” 

Union members are prepared to do what it takes to reach an agreement with Macy’s on a contract, Luick said.

“We could do this all day,” Luick said. “I love my job, I love my colleagues, I love my customers. I built a relationship with them for 16 years. Just because the current Macy’s management is so mean, it’s no reason to give up. That would be silly.”

Lynnwood is one of three locations across Western Washington where workers were taking part in the three-day strike. Union members also went on strike at Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham and Southcenter Mall in Tukwila.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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