What’s the state of Sears and Kmart in New York?

Last week, the New York Times’ Michael Barbaro and Jessica Silver-Greenberg wrote that Sears’ and Kmart’s dramatic decline appears to be accelerating. Forty-five percent of workers at both stores have been hit with layoffs over the past year, and a staggering 70 percent haven’t received raises in four years. Meanwhile, Eddie Lampert, the hedge fund titan who is Sears and Kmart’s controlling shareholder, said that Kmart has recently turned a profit.

And the Department of Labor says its investigations into the extent of discrimination against women, Hispanics and African-Americans at both stores indicates “a pattern of discrimination against women and people of color who tend to work in the cashier and other entry-level service positions.” So if the store takes off from October until Christmas Eve, they could be breaking federal law.

As WNYC’s John Doyle reported earlier this month, representatives from both stores pointed to the toxic and hostile working environment that Lampert has fostered at Sears and Kmart and demanded the right to close the store’s doors down before the holidays and carry on without interference. “I want you to know, I’m not scared of you,” said Sears employee Juan Mora. “I’m going to fight with you. I’m going to defend myself.”

In fact, those marching for Thanksgiving from their “Fight for $15” demonstrations in Manhattan last week to picket Sears and Kmart’s Manhattan headquarters got an ominous warning about the future of their strike. The demonstrators said Sears told them “it was almost time to close the doors and go home,” according to New York magazine.

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