H&M employees protest at Pasadena store, alleging workplace intimidation – Daily News

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About 30 H&M employees and supporters converged on the company’s Pasadena store Monday evening to protest management’s alleged intimidation and threats against an Emeryville worker who was fired for complaining of unfair and unsafe working conditions.

Armed with signs, the group entered the store at 300 E. Colorado Blvd. and passed out flyers to customers while chanting, “When workers’ rights are attacked, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!”

Monday’s gathering followed a similar protest held last week at an H&M in Emeryville.

H&M representatives could not be reached for comment Monday, despite repeated phone calls and emails. Protesters attempted to give the Pasadena store manager a letter voicing their concerns, but she declined to take it.

Former H&M employee Nick Gallant, who was fired Aug. 27, said he was targeted and threatened for urging management to abide by Emeryville’s new fair scheduling law — an ordinance he helped pass.

Draft regulations for the Fair Workweek Ordinance, patterned after San Francisco’s Retail Workers Bill of Rights, were rolled out June 26, 2017, and full enforcement with fines went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. The standards apply to retail employers with at least 56 employees globally, or fast food employers with at least 56 employees globally and 20 or more employees in Emeryville.

Many in the group were part of the national nonprofit workers’ rights organization United For Respect. Melissa Uribe, a spokeswoman for United, said the ordinance title says it all.

“It advocates for fair scheduling,” she said. “There should be a reasonable amount of time between shifts. Some workers are scheduled to work from 3 to 10 p.m. one day and then have to come back in at 5 a.m. the next day for inventory.”

Last-minute schedules

The ordinance also requires fair notice in regard to work schedules.

“A lot of companies will give out employee schedules the Sunday before their Monday shift begins and that doesn’t allow employees to plan for anything,” Uribe said. “If you have kids, it becomes even more difficult.”

Galllant worked at H&M for nearly four years before being fired. He said the company often fails to inform new hires that their work schedules can be adjusted.

“Some employees are going to school and will work five hours a day instead of eight,” the 25-year-old Berkeley resident said. “But then management will start giving them eight-hour shifts, and they aren’t aware that they can request a change in their schedule. A lot of these employees are 18 or 19 years old and they’re scared to stand up for themselves.”

Unsafe practices

Gallant also locked horns with management at the Emeryville store when he suggested they address unsafe work practices, such as forbidding a pregnant employee from going to the bathroom as often as she needed to. Management also intimidated workers who tried to evacuate a San Francisco store when a nearby electrical fire broke out, Uribe said.

Gallant said H&M’s human resources department questioned him about who he was speaking to and what he was saying.

“They wanted to terminate me,” he said.

Worker solidarity

Melissa Love, who works at a Walmart in Long Beach, took part in Monday’s protest as a matter of worker solidarity. Others were from such organizations as Fight for $15 and Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

“I hope for the best,” Love said. “Little by little, we’ll get to everybody … and then we’ll see what the big picture is.”

Founded in 1947, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) is a Swedish multinational clothing company known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. Parent company H&M Group consists of eight brands: H&M, COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, H&M Home, ARKET and Afound.

The company plans to open around 290 new stores this year, with most coming online during the fourth quarter. More than 220 will be H&M stores and the remainder will be COS, & Other Stories, Monki, Weekday, ARKET and standalone H&M HOME stores. Another 170 locations will be closed as the clothing chain readjusts its portfolio.

H&M has been focused on reviving its business after years of falling profits and growing inventories as a result of slowing sales at its core H&M branded stores. Figures from insider.com show H&M Group had 4,743 stores in over 50 countries as of June 2018, with H&M accounting for 4,334 of those locations.

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