January 21, 2010
"We're asking community members to show their support for people who work in the mall," said Eliana Golding of Make the Road New York. Golding and other volunteers are collecting signatures from shoppers who are signing pledge cards that call on the mall owner to give something back to the community.
Most of the 3,100 retail workers in the nation's most profitable mall earn at or around the minimum wage, yet the mall's parent company, Macerich, received $48 million in tax abatements, with tens of millions more in the pipeline. The mall's customers are joining with the community advocacy group Make the Road New York and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in asking that Macerich require increased wages and benefits from its tenant stores. The groups want the mall's tenants to pay retail workers a living wage ($10 per hour with benefits), and that the employers do not interfere with their workers' right to join a union.
The community is also demanding that the mall provide more community benefits by offering space for job training and job placement services, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and financial counseling services. A number of community groups offer these services and would be eager to use the space if it were available.
As the fight for living wages moves forward in New York, the Queens Center Mall Campaign continues to spread the word that we will not stand for poverty wages at the mall any longer.