In New York City, retail workers at eight Zara locations have voted to unionize, joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 1102, reports BuzzFeed. Over 1000 employees who work the floor and behind the scenes will be represented, and apparently Inditex, the global corporation that owns Zara, did not oppose the union drive.
Zara is the top fast-fashion retailer, and Inditex’s earnings are higher than any of its rivals, including H&M, as of June. (Part of the company’s behemoth status comes among accusations of design theft and sweatshop manufacturing, in part at the factory in Bangladesh that collapsed in 2013.) BuzzFeed’s report doesn’t specify any specific reasons why Zara’s in-store employees wanted union representation. But as RWDSU spokesperson Janna Pea said, this move paves the way for Zara stores to unionize nationally and even globally:
“We applaud Zara for recognizing the rights of its employees to choose to unionize, without interference,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, in a statement. “Zara, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the world, is sending a strong message that you can remain profitable and still recognize your workers’ right to dignity, justice and respect on the job.”
Workers at New York H&Ms joined the RWSDU in 2009, and it also represents workers at various independent and corporate retailers in the city, including Modell’s Sporting Goods and Saks Fifth Avenue.