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Shocker: We Agree with the Unions on This One

It’s not often the Institute for Policy Innovation can agree with union workers, but on one issue we couldn’t agree more: employee safety in the face of organized retail crime.
Macy’s workers in the Seattle area went on strike the morning of Black Friday to protest the rampant crime that’s wreaking havoc in retail stores—occurring both in Seattle and other progressive-led cities around the country—threatening the safety of employees who do not know how or whether to respond. Worse yet, when employees do try to respond in a reasonable way, the company may punish them rather than the thieves.
Here’s how the Seattle Times started its coverage of the Macy’s story. “It is a sign of retail’s unsettled state that the chief demand from striking Seattle-area Macy’s workers isn’t for more money but for less shoplifting.”
Employees say “Macy’s management does too little to deter the thieves or protect staff. Employees say they’re not allowed to interfere with thieves, or aid colleagues, but are told to report incidents to store security.” But employees also say security often doesn’t do anything.
When one employee called the police about a repeat shoplifter, Macy’s … wait for it … suspended the employee without pay.
We’ve seen other instances of this bizarre employer behavior. Last April, Lululemon fired two employees for attempting to stop a robbery. According to CNN, “two men wearing hoodies and face masks rush[ed] into the store and grab[ed] armloads of merchandise from areas closest to the entrance of the store and then rush[ed] out.”
Employees called police but were also yelling at the men to get out. That got them canned.
When the company was criticized for firing the employees, the CEO responded, “In this particular case, we have a zero-tolerance policy that we train our educators on around engaging during a theft. Why? Because we put the safety of our team and of our guests front and center.” 
No, if Lululemon were that interested in employee safety it would take steps to discourage rampant retail theft. It’s violent thieves stealing merchandise, not employees, who are creating the threat to safety.
Fortunately, there was a happier ending for the Macy’s employee. The company reportedly agreed to restore her back pay. And the Macy’s union’s Black Friday strike may have gotten the company some unwanted attention, since some 17,000 people signed a pledge to not shop at Macy’s on Black Friday.
But this situation is likely to get worse. As progressive district attorneys increasingly refuse to prosecute crime, and many major retailers refuse to adopt more stringent security measures, we are likely to see even more incidents where violent thieves conclude, correctly, that crime really does pay.