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Saks just gave about 116 employees in its Fifth Avenue beauty department the world's worst Christmas present: News that they would lose their jobs after the holidays. According to the New York Post, there's much more behind this decision than simple recession-era housekeeping. For one thing, only two weeks ago the retail union filed a petition to organize the department.
Saks maintains that the layoffs have nothing to do with the union, instead blaming an industry-wide shift in staffing policy. Basically, department stores don't hire their own beauty department workers anymore—the brands each staff their counters individually. Bloomingdales and other Saks competitors have been running their cosmetics sections like this for a while now, and some Saks stores made the switch this summer. Already, almost three-quarters of the staffers at Saks's flagship store are working for Chanel or Lancôme or other brands, and starting at the end of January that number will be bumped up to 100%. Saks says this will improve customer service, but we wonder if customers will really be able to feel the difference.
· Saks cosmetics staff face cuts at flagship [NYP]