Staff at Two Barnes & Noble Stores Seek to Unionize

Staff at two Barnes & Noble stores are seeking to unionize.

In New York City, booksellers at the flagship store on Union Square have filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, according to Gothamist. Inspired by the staff at the B&N Education store at Rutgers University, who will vote on unionization later this month, the Union Square booksellers want to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which also represents booksellers at McNally Jackson and Greenlight Bookstore in New York. The proposed bargaining unit at the store includes 100 booksellers, baristas, cashiers, and other non-supervisory employees. Gothamist added that management had chosen not to recognize the union.

Issues for staff include pay, benefits, training for conflict resolution, hiring an adequate number of staff, shifting part timers who work long hours to full timers, scheduling, and more.

Bookseller Desiree Nelson told Gothamist: "We're stretched thin, and with a union we'd win the pay, needed benefits and long-overdue training and safety resources we need to attract more co-workers and adequately staff the store so our customers have a safer and better experience shopping with us."

In Hadley, Mass., staff at Barnes & Noble are also seeking to unionize and join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459, according to the Shoestring. The union would represent 18 booksellers and baristas.

Last month, staff and supporters held a rally outside the store and issued a statement echoing the concerns of the Union Square staff. It read in part, "We are often told that booksellers and baristas are Barnes & Noble's most valuable assets. We agree, and have decided to come together to stand up for our rights as workers in order to foster the working conditions we deserve....

"The majority of our staff are still underpaid and without benefits, even while many of us are working nearly or actually at full time hours. Our schedules are inconsistent and often fall outside of our (unreasonably low) rostered number of hours. Our hours are constantly subject to unexpected and unexplained cuts, despite our store being consistently understaffed."

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