On the Picket Line

Operating Engineers enter fifth week of strike against Macy’s

By Andrea Morell
October 19, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO — Over 70 members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 are on strike against Macy’s department stores throughout Northern California and in Reno, Nevada. All the strikers are concentrating their picket lines at the Union Square store here. They’re fighting for parity with other engineers in the area and against attacks on their health care and other benefits. They’ve been without a contract since Sept. 1, and no talks are scheduled.

“Not only does Macy’s want to pay 80 cents on the dollar compared to other engineers in the industry,” the strikers’ fact sheet says, but they are “trying to force us to take these reduced wages for the next three years.”

The bosses shut down Macy’s for several months in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, furloughing the workforce. When they reopened the Union Square store, they laid off more than a dozen engineers.

“Macy’s should dig in their pockets and start paying their workers,” Eric Zarco told the Militant  on the picket line Sept. 27. “The greed really shows. They are using COVID-19 as an excuse, but we’ve been taking their guff for years.”

Joel Britton, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress in the 13th District in California, and several campaign supporters joined several hundred other strike supporters at the picket line and rally organized by the San Francisco Labor Council Sept. 17.

Britton, a longtime trade unionist, said, “It’s very important to support these workers who are pushing back against Macy’s attempt to take advantage of high unemployment to weaken their union. Working people need unions, fighting unions, in every workplace.”