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Workers at Six H&M New York Clothing Stores Join a Union

Workers at six New York City-area H&M stores, owned by a Sweden-based clothing retailer, won a two-month union-organizing campaign after their employer didn’t demand a secret-ballot election.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union will represent 240 sales clerks at H&M stores in Queens, Brooklyn, West Nyack, White Plains, Yonkers and Staten Island, all in New York. They join about 1,200 New York H&M workers, most based in Manhattan, already in the UFCW.

H&M, owned by Stockholm-based Hennes & Mauritz AB, the world’s second-largest clothing retailer, accepted the union’s bid for representation after workers turned in signup cards. Companies typically require an election to ratify the petitions, said UFCW spokesman Evan Yeats. A vote gives employers a chance to influence the outcome.

“H&M prides itself as an employer who values its associates and presents a positive work environment,” Jennifer Ward, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “H&M has a tradition of working with unions around the world, and we are confident that we will continue to build our new relationship with the UFCW.”

H&M workers wanted to unionize because of dissatisfaction with the retail industry, not their company, Yeats said. They want a more stable schedule, better job security, and better pay and health care.

“Workers are making retail jobs into good long-term retail careers,” said Tom Plumb, director of the retail stores division of the UFCW.

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