September 19, 2012

An American Worker: Eno Awotoye

“The American Worker – A Look at the American Worker in 2012” is’s recent series of spotlights on today’s hardworking Americans, ranging from auto workers and school workers to baristas, administrators, and caregivers.  Each installment in the series focuses on one such worker, giving a quick look at biographical info, including salary, and detailing each person’s relationship with their job.  We thought this was a great resource, and honest glimpse into the highs and lows of real jobs today.

One of the bios that intrigued us the most was that of Eno Awotoye, a Vendor Selling Specialist at Macy’s Herald Square.  As a unionized retail worker, Eno makes a good salary at 21.50 an hour, plus bonuses. Originally from Nigeria, she now lives in the Bronx, and enjoys great employee benefits including vacation, paid sick days/paid time off, medical & vision & dental insurance, and 401k with employer matching. Below, Eno answers questions from 

– What worries you the most about your job? What worries you most about your life outside of work?
“At work, I want to make sure that our union stays strong and that no anti-worker legislation is passed. Outside of work, I want to focus on my personal growth, and how to find time to continue to do art.”

– Are you in a union? Does your industry have unions? Do you think your industry should unionize?
“Yes, I’m a member of RWDSU’s Local 1-S (Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union) at Macy’s on 34th Street in Manhattan. Unfortunately, only about 4 percent of the retail industry is unionized, and I think it should be much higher.”

– What is your proudest career accomplishment?
“My proudest career accomplishment has been being able to take what I’ve learned from almost 20 years of working at Macy’s to help other retail workers. I teach free customer service training classes, as well as professional sales classes such as building client books, visual merchandising, fine jewelry, etc., to retail workers seeking better jobs in this economy. Through this, I’m able to help folks who work in an industry with a lot of job growth get better jobs, while teaching them about their rights on the job.”

-If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? (More flexible hours, better benefits, higher salary, better job security, pension plan, etc)
“I get all of the benefits listed above at my job because of our union contract, but most non-union retail workers don’t get these benefits. What I wish is that I can help workers get these basic protections and benefits at their jobs.”

Because she and her co-workers are about sticking together in their union and improving their workplace, Eno has many benefits that non-union retail employees may not.  We think it is awesome that she works hard to help other retail workers who aren’t yet as fortunate, to teach them skills and inspire them to come together for their rights on the job.  Although only a small percentage of retail workers currently enjoy good jobs like Eno’s at Macy’s, if we all stick together we can work for a brighter  future for workers.