The New York City District Council of Carpenters has just begun its 31st day of protest outside the Urban Outfitters store at Third Avenue and 59th Street. Union members are there because of a labor dispute concerning worker rights at Arc Interiors, the company Urban Outfitters hired to help build the UO store opening at Third Avenue and 86th Street. Picketers first turned up on June 21, and they’ve been protesting every weekday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. since. Picketer Juan Rodriguez says they’re lobbying for area-standard wages and health-care benefits for the bricklayers, masons, and carpenters who’ve been working on the store.
According to Dan Walcott, a supervisor at the District Council of Carpenters, Urban Outfitters Inc. is not meeting the standards that give everyone the same level of wages and medical benefits. The Council is asking people to call Urban Outfitters Inc. at its Philadelphia headquarters to demand they meet labor standards on all their projects. While the protest’s impact on saddle-shoe shopping is impossible to track, the opinions of the UO customers we spoke with outside the store last week ran the gamut. “I feel like the majority of businesses do things like that, so I’m not surprised,” said shopper Yelena Galstyan. “I shop here all the time, and I wouldn’t stop because of this.” Others were more perturbed. “You expect people to do the right thing,” said shopper Laura Liriano. “I love the clothes, but I’m going to shop here a lot less now that I know about it.” Urban Outfitters refused to comment on the matter, and the opening date for the new Upper East Side store has not yet been announced.