New York retail workers rally for justice

Zara worker Sharlene Santos says, ‘$10.50 is not enough!’

Zara worker Sharlene Santos says, ‘$10.50 is not enough!’

As New York City’s working class takes on more defense of working conditions for restaurant, grocery, airline, car wash, fast food and other low-wage workers — most of whom are people of color and/or immigrant workers — some of these workers came to a July 29 rally to cheer on workers at a Zara clothing store in Manhattan.

Pictured, Sharlene Santos speaks near one of Zara’s seven Manhattan stores. Santos, who has been employed at this store for years, led the protest about working conditions at the store. Called by the Retail Action Project, an initiative of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, this noontime action drew 50 spirited supporters. “We deserve to feel respected and valued!” said Santos, who also insisted that her hourly pay of $10.30 at Zara is not enough.

Higher wages are especially needed since Zara leaves retail workers with only part-time and unpredictable hours. Working mothers have difficulty in arranging and paying for childcare. And these Zara workers, especially the women of color, complain of the bosses’ racism. Supporters chanted, “Zara, Zara you’re no good, treat your workers like you should!”

Santos exposed the Zara boss for being a billionaire, even as the local store refused 800 petitions for these workers! Owned by Inditex, Zara is the largest clothing retailer in the world. (Guardian, March 19)

Zara workers in Spain have won benefits after gaining union recognition there. Still, it was obvious that the fight for these determined workers’ rights is not over in New York. To sign a petition and build support, visit­