Respect for Workers’ Right to Join Union in Zara’s New York Flagship Store

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Zara employee Darren Frett

This post originally appeared at UNI Global Union.

UNI Global Union’s global framework agreement with the world’s largest fashion retailer Inditex/Zara showed its practical value to U.S. workers seeking the right to join a union.

Inditex primarily operates under its Zara brand in the United States. Last week, as per the provisions of the UNI-Inditex Global Agreement, workers at one of Zara’s flagship stores in New York City were invited to a meeting where the employer outlined its position on union neutrality, UNI Commerce’s U.S. affiliate the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)—through its Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) division—made a presentation to Zara workers who were informed that they could freely choose to join the union. Zara management highlighted the principles of the global agreement with UNI, based on both the core conventions of the International Labor Organization and the Declaration of Human Rights, abided by the right of freedom of association. The majority of workers at the store then chose to join the union.

Speaking about the process he witnessed, a Zara employee, Darren Frett, said, “I’ve worked in the New York retail sector for many years and it’s great to work for a company which respects the right of its employees to join a union if we want to do so.”

Alke Boessiger, head of UNI Commerce, reflecting upon the fact that it was the UNI Global Agreement, which ultimately benefited workers in Zara New York, said, “A global agreement is not just a piece of paper—it’s about building a platform for dialogue, for building relationships between workers and companies so that labor rights are respected and realized.”

Commenting on the completed process in New York, Boessiger added, “I would give great credit to both UFCW/RWDSU and the Inditex global HR and legal teams, who took great joint work to ensure that this was successfully implemented in its first U.S. store.”

UNI will continue to work with Inditex and UFCW to ensure that this first step develops into a fully fledged partnership to benefit workers in the United States.