County of Jefferson County
State of Kentucky
I, Richard Wesley Gibbs, being first duly affirm upon my oath, hereby sate as follows:
I have been given assurances by an agent of the National Labor Relations Board that this affidavit will be considered confidential by the United States Government and will not be disclosed unless it becomes necessary for the government to produce the affidavit with formal proceeding.
I reside at ***** ***** ***, Louisville, KY ******
My telephone number is ***-***-****
I am employed by, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc., herein called the Employer, located at 801 S. Hurstbourne Lane, Louisville, KY, 40222.
I have been employed by the Employer since about July 22, 1996. I am a special orders clerk and bookseller. There are about 58 employees who work in various parts of the store.
I was the one who originally contacted the United Food & Commercial Worker's
Union. I had discussed doing this with several employees. I contacted the Union for several reasons: I heard that Borders (an Employer competitor) had voted for union representation in New York City, Chicago and several other places; that a supervisor had quit but the duties were spread among two other supervisors; and when the special orders clerk position came open and I got the job, the salary was lowered 50 cents, despite having more duties.
I met with Union representatives Bruce ***** and Chad ***** at the Union's office. I went alone. I signed a card while I was there and took several cards home with me. I was given some literature about the Union and the Borders campaigns. Thereafter I passed out the literature at work on non-work times in the parking lot and mostly after work. I gave out the literature to whoever I thought would be interested and I did this when I felt supervisors were not present. No one wore anything with the union logo to work. Initially I was the only one doing this but later Brad *****, another employee, helped me. Presently, I have about 40 percent of the employees signed for Union representation. The cards were signed anywhere from the last week of July until almost a couple of weeks ago. In November 1997 the Employer began hiring temporary employees for the Christmas season so I am going to hold off with further organizing until after the Christmas season when temporaries will no longer be there.
There were about 7 to 10 meetings we had to discuss the union. The meetings were held at two different Denny's Restaurants and my apartment and Brad's apartment. The most attendance was by about 10 employees but generally about 6 attended the meetings. The first meeting was held around the third week of August and the last one about mid-November 1997. The union representatives attended the meetings at Denny's.
With respect to the allegations of surveillance, in the last week of August 1997 I was having lunch with D***** at the McDonald's on Hurstbourne Lane. D***** is the receiving supervisor but I do not think he has the power to hire or fire anyone or to discipline anyone or to transfer anyone to a different department. He will deliver a discipline but I do not believe he has any input in whether the discipline will be given. D***** asked me to lunch stating he wanted to talk to me. We have gone to lunch before so that was not a surprise. D*****started off stating that M**, our store's general manager, had called him at home and asked him to spy on the "union". D said that M had called him about 7 days before this lunch. I replied, wasn't that illegal. D said yes. D and I have been studying labor law. D said he told M that he would spy. I know that he will not. He was the second one to sign a union card. The conversation then changed to other matters.
On August 19, 1997 I posted a Web Page which is attached as Charging Party's Exhibit B. I have received about 40 responses (so far) from current employees at 30 differet Barnes & Noble stores across the country. This is documented. I have had about 6,300 hits since August 19 to the present (Dec. 16th, 1997). I have updated it periodically since August 19. Towards the end of Exhibit B are comments that I posted from employees around the country who responded to my Web Page (see Mail Box and Old Mail). I did not post their names or dates I received them. No supervisors said anything to me about seeing this Web Page. I do not thik they have computers.
On August 23, 1997, C. Hull, who they call a cashiering supervisor (the Employer calls about 50 percent of the employees supervisors), told me that on the first or second of August that B*****, assistant general manager, sat down with him during a break and asked him what he thought about unions. C. Hull said he told G that he thought they were one way for a little guy to have a voice in a big corporation. C. Hull said G asked him why he did not believe in the American Way and then pulled up a special order for a book called "Organizing Unions" abnd commented "Here's the problem." C. Hull said G mentioned that I had ordered the book. I did order the book on August 2, 1997. C. Hull said that he felt like G tried to intimidate him asking him questions about and I by G's reactions - sort of flying off the handle when he said C. Hull was wrong to feel that way about unions. G never said anything to me about the book. I received the book about 3-4 weeks after I ordered it and no supervisors were around when I picked it up...
On August 29, 1997, district manager R*****, asked to speak to me in the cafe located in the store. (R is from Indianapolis and in the past only visits the store about once a month This week he was there for about 3 days ans was going around asking employees how they felt about work and if there were anything could to to essentially make life better for them. This is what many employees told me he said.) In the cafe, R started the conversation and asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years referring to money. I told him I would be happy having a job and not hungry on the streets. He said if this was about money he could take care of that right now. (At this point I felt he was talking about the union because supervisors took an adversarial air with the employees abnd seemed to be watching them more closely, along with what I had already heard that I described above.) I told him that I was not really concerned about a lot of money. I told him I was primarily concerned about improving the work situation for myself and everyone else and I explained my idea that if we all work together and were happy that money did not matter. R than asked what I thought a union could get me. I asked him wasn't that wrong (illegal) of him to ask me. He said something like "we're just talking." I then explained that I felt it ws my obligation as a United States citizen to improve working conditions which ultimately affects workers around the world. I told him that I was not going to stop organizing. He asked if he could arrange a meeting for me with Len Riggio. Riggio is the CEO and primary stockholder for the Employer and is located in New York City. I told him that it would not make a difference and I would not change my mind. He then said thanks for talking with him. This conversation took place for about one hour. He had taken me away from my job for this conversation. I was not the only employee who was cornered like this and talked to about the union. A*** is one that stands out because he spoke to her on the sales floor for about 30-45 minutes the same day he spoke to me. A had not signed a union card and has not yet. Jim Gaines is another one R spoke to. I think I was the only one R mentioned the union to. The general manager M said the district manager was comint to talk about the bargain books. I do not have anything to do with the bargain books but I think he did speak those employees (bargain books) for an hour or two. He did not need to two days to explain about that. It is always considered a big deal when R shows up.
In May 1997 I had asked R when he in the store whether we could get no-load stocks from the company -- buying stock directly from the Employer without paying a broker's fee. He said they had that at the Gap when he worked there and he would check into it. I never heard another word from him about this.
On October 16, 1997, I posted an article from the Columbus Dispatch entitled "Generation X Joining the Ranks of Union Workers." I posted this in the employee lounge D was present but no supervisors (I consider the supervisors to be M, G and S, another assistant manager.) The next day the article was gone. I was training 6 new employees who were hired for Christmas that day. I reposted the article and took a picture of it which is Charging Paty's Exhibit A... On the bulletin board there was also an article about the dangers of coming to work, violence in the workplace and the percentages that have taken place. The article has been up maybe 2 years and certainly since January 1997. There was another article about an employee's opinion about poor media coverage of the conflicts in Ireland. This article had just been posted. Further, there is a playbill on the door. The employee who posted is in plays and frequently posts playbills. Notices of parties are posted there too...The whole area encompassing the bulletin board, the door and around the door have been places where notices to employees are normally posted. There is a "no-solicitation" rule in the handbook but it has never been enforced. (I received a copy of the handbook when I was hired. The handbook was never brought up to employees before union organizing started. In fact recently the handbook has been changed but I do not have a changed copy at this time.) Employee T, I recall posted girl scout cookie order sheets near the timeclock and nothing was ever said to her. In fact I think general manager M brought cookies from her. Amanda, an employee told me she posted a playbill in the employee lounge from November 1 to November 15, 1997 and nothing was said to her and it was not taken down.
On Monday, October 20, about 2 pm, general manager M said she had to talk to me and so we walked outside. She told me that she had removed the above article because she said they have a "no-solicitation" policy. I told her it was legally posted and I gave her the number of the NLRB, the Union and for the law firm Segal, Isenberg, Stewart, etc. She took the numbers and said she would check into it. I did not hear back about this.
On October 23, Jim Gaines, an employee, told me that he posted on the employee bulletin board in the lounge an article entitled: "Know Your Rights: Your employer cannot ask you if you have signed a union card. Your employer cannot spy on union activity, etc..." Gaines said about 20 minutes after he had posted that assistant manager S called him to the lounge and told him that they had a "no-solicitation" policy and then she proceeded to take down the above article he had posted. I think Gaines said he told her she could not do that but she did it anyway. Gaines said she took down my Columbus Dispatch article which was my last copy. I think Gaines had also posted about a meeting on Saturday for all employees interested in labor law. It was not signed. The notice said it would be at Denny's at DuPont Circle at 5pm and also at midnight. I had given this note to Gaines to post but did not know for sure if he posted it. If he did it was also taken down. Employee J.H. was in the employee lounge on a break when all this happened.
Sometime in the week of November 3, 1997 I had given C. Hull a copy of the article attached as Charging Party's Exhibit C. He posted in the employee lounge on the bulletin board (in the same place the other articles had been posted and taken down.) I was present when Hull posted it. Hull put a note next to the article stating, "If you don't believe in the First Ammendment, rip here." That article was only up for about 30 minutes at most. I do not know who removed it...
COUNTY OF JEFFERSON ) Case 9-CA-35548
STATE OF KENTUCKY )
I am the same Richard Wesley Gibbs who gave an affidavit to the NLRB on December 16, 1997.
The next day, district manager R and general manager M met with almost all the employees individually. I was called to a meeting with them. M told me that my job description had been rewritten and that I was to receive an increase from $6.60 to $7.50 an hour...She also gave me a packpay check for $350 which was to cover the period from when I took over special orders to that time. (I have done that math on that time period and the $350 does not entirely cover that perios but I never said anything about it.) Nothing was mentioned in the meeting about the subject of the union. The only other employee who received a "backpay check" was P. His check was also for $350 and was for the period of time from which he had taken a promotion. He had gotten that job just a few weeks before I got the special orders job.
In the past and before any talk about the union, Smith had never been in the store to my knowledge and there had been no talk about doing an area wage comparison study. In fact, an employee Simon told me that she had asked at a supervisor's meeting if the employees woul dbe getting a pay raise to compensate for the rise in the minimum wage. Simon said general manager M replied "You didn't get a raise the last time the minimum wage was raised." ...
On September 2 and 3, 1997 (ironically right after Labor Day) the executive officer Tolworthy and Smith came to our stoare and held a couple of meetings. In the meeting I attended with about 7 other employees, Tolworthy pointed out how the Employer had a "We Listen" program in the handbook (i.e. a proceedure whereby employees can take their complaints locally and progress all the way to headquarters). Tolworthy said it sounded like there were problems at our store and employees were not happy. He allowed questions to be asked. I brought up that I was getting paid less than my predecessor and that the wage scales were less than employees at Burger King and McDonald's made for flipping hamburgers when we were required to have more knowledge. About half dozen of the employees asked him questions or brought up their complaints....the only mention about a union was when Tolworthy said there was once a division of Barnes & Noble in New York City that was union and when it closed jobs weer found for all the employees. I had already had a phone conversation with Tolworthy on about August 29, 1997, where he said he saw my web page (copy previously submitted to the NLRB), which was about the subject of a union. It was a couple of weeks later that Smith came to the store to announce the raises I stated above...
With respect to the phone list, sometime in about July 1997 when the talk of the union first started, the phone list (listing employee's names and home telephone numbers) was removed from the bulletin board in the break room. C. Hull said he heard from one of the store managers that it had been taken down to be revised or updated. The list was gone for about one and one half weeks and then was reposted but no changes had been made to it. About 3 days after it was reposted, assistant manger G told me to retype it to show current employees. There were some quits and others who were new. This was the only time it has been revised since I worked there. Others have told me it was only revised once before that.