Forever 21 employees are using Toys R Us as a lesson as they organize to protect their interests as the company files for bankruptcy.
“Days after fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it released a list of roughly 180 U.S. locations slated for possible closure. Affected stores could shutter by year’s end — but the employees who stand to lose their jobs aren’t idly waiting to learn their fate.
Several hundred full- and part-time Forever 21 employees are in the early stages of organizing for worker protections, according to the New York-based labor rights group, United for Respect. The mobilization follows the successful efforts of workers at Toys R Us and Sears following their companies’ liquidation or downsizing.
‘We’re seeing how Toys R Us was a game changer,’ Lily Wang, deputy campaigns director for United for Respect told The Washington Post. ‘It was a real moment, and now we’re seeing it unfold with companies that go bankrupt. Workers realize they don’t have to normalize [this] problem.’
Organizing efforts by traditional retail employees is a boon for the labor movement, which President Trump has sought to weaken in recent years. Despite those efforts, approval of labor unions hovers near its highest level in 50 years, according to Gallup. Labor has also emerged as a key campaign issue among Democratic presidential candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who called for Forever 21 workers to be fairly compensated.
Hundreds of workers have reached out to the labor group since the weekend, Wang said. ‘People are upset and anxious about their future, their employment and their store.'”
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