More than 100 union members and organizers demonstrated in Downtown Crossing Tuesday to call attention to the fact that the Dublin-based retailer Primark, which is opening its first US store there next month, has not agreed to meet with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 about organizing its workers. Primark is opening at the former site of Filene’s Basement, whose employees were represented by the local UFCW chapter for almost a century. Local 1445 also represents local workers at Macy’s and Stop & Shop.
“Unfortunately there’s not a lot of places where retail workers can enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement,” said Jim Carvalho, political director for Local 1445, which held a smaller rally at the Primark site last month. “We’re trying to make these options more available to folks.”
Primark has about 60,000 employees in nine European countries, some of whom are unionized, although the company did not specify how many.
“Primark wholly respects the fact that, under US law, the decision on whether or not to join a union collectively belongs to our employees,” the company said in a statement. “Since this is an employee decision, Primark cannot agree to bargain with any union on behalf of our US workforce, which is still in formation for our Boston location.”
The low-cost fashion retailer, which operates 290 stores in Europe, plans to open a 70,000-square-foot four-floor space in Downtown Crossing Sept. 10 and plans to employ about 500 people.