B&N | Old Mail | Hatemail
These comments were in response to this web page I put up:

http://booksellersunion.org/B&N.htm

These are some of the highlights:

 

I can agree with most other bookstore employees that I really do like my job dealing with customers and surrounded with books, in many aspects it is a great job...I find it very frustrating in my position in regards to the pay scale here, we are definately not paid what we are worth... I go home feeling mentally drained with an ever growing list of things that just could not get accomplished...we feel like we are the "black sheep" sister to Barnes & Noble and in my opinion it wouldn't take that much to transform this company to a fun, great place to work ....better wages are definately in order...we should make what we are worth... we work really hard and beleive in selling books and enjoy doing so!!! we want to work in a clean organized workplace....not where dingy cluttered areas are the rule instead of the exception....we need better training, and tools to perform our tasks more efficiently...we need a few more hours doled out to us so we can feel a sense of accomplishment in our work, as it is now, alot of us go home numb....trying to figure out how we can accomplish all the things laid out before us with the time that is allowed and not completely ignore the customers who come to us for help!!!! I do not feel this is alot to ask for.....I just know that I am doing an exceptional job given what I have to work with....we are not slackers....we take pride in ourselves and our job and company.....we would just like to be treated fairly.....I feel that I'm always a day late and a dollar short ...for all the 99 things that I am doing right at work there is always something that I overlooked and that is MY problem....not the companies... that is the attitude that prevails.... I truly would like to be a part of something that would improve many lives in the bookselling world.....

anything you can do to moderate B&N is wonderful--this company is ruining the book business and helping to drive publishing overseas
Your website is right on. Now is the time for all of the retail world to send a message to their CEO's by unionizing. The Reagen/Bush depression is over and it is time that they realized this. God bless you.
Just happened to come across your site while cruising around the net and was very surprised. Coming from Australia, sometimes I'd use Barnes and Noble's Internet site to order books unavailable from local stores. I'm also a union supporter, so now I'm aware of the union problems with Barnes and Noble, I'll stop using them until the problems are rectified.
I feelstrongly that we are not paid what we deserve. Especially those of us that are qualified and are bringing in the profits. Has there been any discussions at any time on incentives, commissions, or other type of "real" incentives to provide the bookseller with the motivation to provide the service that B&N is looking for? I would be interested in that information. I am looking forward to more information.
As I've grown up, the middle class, (my family) has become a dying breed. It's either estate or trailer park, there's no in between. And Barnes & Noble also mirrors that. I personally am okay with my hourly wage (7.25). It's much better than I got at Waldenbooks. But there are folks getting SCREWED left and right. The pay area is a "gray area" as my manager would say. There are folks in the cafe, one was at 5.75, another at 7.00/hr. Both were new hires. It's like, be consistent or at least try to establish some kind of morale. I feel like someone needs to speak up, but would that be meddling? There seems to be a fine line... And I can't tell if I'm just being sympathetic or if I'm just looking for a cause. I have given the union web address to a couple of people & I'll tell them about your updated info, but more would be great.
I loved your page. I'm currently trying to get a feel for organization in my store. As one of your "fans" stated it is a job between college classes but unfair is unfair. If people like that continue to turn their heads to what's happeneing in companies, then we all will be working for nothing while the big guys get fat and rich from our work. Are you still involved? Please e-mail me if you have any tips. We are not one of the larger stores. Also, the company has instituted these "fixed" raise scales and those ridiculous reviews that make your best guy look like your worst guy when compared. Raises based on performance my ass. Anyway, if you have time let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks for your time.
Today was arather crappy day at my local B&N. Yes, I too have the wonderful job of specialorders...or at least I used to, today I got to train someone to do special ordersso...I'm not sure where "the man" will put me next. I'm used to it. I seem toscare my manager (maybe it's because I put my life ahead of my job). Anyway,I'm not visiting you necessarily to whine about work, I just wanted to let you knowthat the union site wasn't something I had expected to find. It would be hard to pull off at my store because the manager hires cute students, and not enoughliterate folks. There aren't enough employees who are "in-betweens" like me. You know, english majors (though my degrees not complete and I haven't been in school since '94). I am currently in limbo, wanting to finish school...full time work at a bookstore is a dream job.And I swear, I'm the only person in my age range. It sucks. Anyway,I don't have the time tonight to peruse your entire site (it's MASSIVE), but I will be back. Maybe even tomorrow, it's my day off...and lucky-ass me 'cos wegot the new computer system setting up overnight with a visit from our DM to boot.
So much of>what you said in your letter is true. I'm what they call a "leadbookseller" in charge of rcving. I previously was in charge of special orders making $6.25 @ hr. I recently found out a person who has only been working for our store for 6 months makes $6.25. It took me over a year to make that much. Plus with my new job I was suppose to get a review in March(& a raise) but they claimed since I got my new position in Jan. that I didn't qualify. So now I have to wait til next March to get a raise, even though I know it will only be $.50! By that time I'm sure a regular bookseller will be making more than me. B&N should realize to keep good people you need to pay them! The local Dillards starts people off at $8.00 or more.
This is a great site! I wrote an essay for Art Shostak which will appear in his upcoming book "CyberUnion". Also, he asked essay writers to give good examples of unionism on the web so he could list them in the book and I gave him this site. The book will be out in early summer.
I was amused to read your information about unionizing Barnes and Noble. I think it is a great idea, and I hope that your efforts will be successful.> I left the B&N in Ann Arbor, MI (blanked out the store #, LOL) about 31/2 years ago, after the birth of my first child, and I remember being greatful nearly every day for about a year afterwards that I was no longer employed there. Mind you, the Ann Arbor B&N had it's good points: an excellent, kind manager (Meg Aerol), wonderful booksellers, a nice city to be in, etc...) but the whole corporate nonsense that I had to deal with as an ASM really wore me out. It was entertaining to see the old names (like Steve Riggio, etc...) bandied about with so much relish. I think a little less reverence for upper management is very, very healthy! Best of luck to you all. Hopefully, you all will help keep the HUMAN side of B&N alive!
I had no idea that there was union organizing at B&N. Good for you people. I was actually browsing the net to see if I could get more info about a job at B&N and ran across your site. I'm very impressed. And it has made me think twice before I go out and seek employment with these people. On the other hand I would love to do some union organizing myself. I think that unionizing the huge retail class of workers is a task that needs to be addressed. Retail workers of all kinds are one of the most oppressed groups around. There are very few ways for them to redress grievances in an underpaid and maligned job. There are few, if any benifits and they are treated like shit. YES!!! BARNES AND NOBLE NEEDS A UNION!!!
hi i currently just got a computer and i work for b&n i love your site which i stumbled across out of curiosity. way to go !!!!! i hope that you can gain enough employees and former employees to make a company wide union drive possible .... imagine a country wide walkout and protest of the below living wage status of the average b & n employee can we organize on the web a day of reckoning and get lots of media attention ; therefore gaining worldwide embarrassment for the company and sympathy for our plight . the more media attention the better as they dont like the way it looks to our customers, who are generally well read when the store is near a college town. any other ideas?
I work at a B&N in California. Last week I had lunch w/ a UFCW organizer.
As a note to all this hate mail--so what if someone chooses to work in the Bookselling business as a career. Why is that not considered a "real job". Do you think it is easy dealing with harsh customers everyday? Believe me some of them can be brutal. Before you judge someone elses career choice think about the world we live in. Maybe this is the only job they can get. As a manager at Barnes and Noble, I have to agree that we get paid a crappy amount to do a lot. I started out as a bookseller and when I moved to manager I did not make much more than I was making. However, i was expected to run the store, ie. file expense reports, deal with upset customers, make the schedules--basically run a small business for a large corporation. Is that so different from "real jobs"? I am also a full time student and this is the job that pays for my education, living expenses, etc. And now that I am graduating and leaving B & N I am being screwed over by them and their stupid policy changes. When I read the "policies are subject to change without notice" I took that as to mean we can change the policy, and it will be effective immediately. Not I will change the policy and not tell you for three months. Isn't there something illegal about that? For instance, what if the U.S. made a law and didn't tell anyone about it...then someone breaks that law and is fined $500...so that person states, " I didn't know about this law." And the officer says well we didn't tell anyone, but now you know so you have to pay the fine. Hello?...that is totally illegal. Does that not also count for this policy change? Just musing on some points and venting a bit.:)
hi i currently just got a computer and i work for b&n i love your site which i stumbled across out of curiosity. way to go !!!!! i hope that you can gain enough employees and former employees to make a company wide union drive possible .... imagine a country wide walkout and protest of the below living wage status of the average b & n employee can we organize on the web a day of reckoning and get lots of media attention ; therefore gaining worldwide embarrassment for the company and sympathy for our plight . the more media attention the better as they dont like the way it looks to our customers, who are generally well read when the store is near a college town. any other ideas?

All these anti-union people are truly un-American idiots. As a 30's something woman, I came from Kentucky farm- stock that moved to Ypsalanti, Mi. during the 1950's. Before auto unions, working conditions were horrendous in those factories-18 hr.days (or more), chilld-slave labor, minimum or below-average wages. no paid holidays, sick leave; pollution such as asbestos, of which my grandfather died, ran out of control because the employers were totally in control-no one gave a sh*t if the worker up and died-he could always be replaced, after all, isn't that capitalism? People against organizing are usually coming from one of two places-either they are rich, "corporate welfare" pigs themselves who stand to gain from denying their own workers a secure future, or they haven't done their (intellectual) homework, and are content to accept crumbs from the master's dining table .
My guess is that 2/3 of them are not over the age 60+, when the corporations stick it to you the most by firing you after 30 years of service/deadication-Woolworths's history is a good example of this. Keep the faith, although In America's capitalism turning facist-greed society, I know that can be difficult. God Speed.


    I found your site by accident, but man am I glad I did.
I tried to organize the factory I work in, in 1992-4, but didn't get enough cards signed to go for a vote.
I have stayed active in the movement, even took some college courses at my own expense.
The one thing I have learned over the years, is, People who down Union's and the Labor Movement should take the time to read some of the history of this great nation. It was the results of the blood, sweat ,tears and death of our fellow
co-workers that made this nation what is was and should be again. Camaraderie is missing now a days. Everyone is only looking out for themselves, not mankind as a whole.  The people who "suck-up & yes" their way to the top are the ones that
think Union's are useless. They seem to forget, that down the road someone else will come along that's a better suck-up & yes person then they were, then all their hard work in down the tubes as well.
    The working class people are the union's, if it not a good one it's our own fault. Solidarity is the answer. There's power in numbers, and not just for the few, everyone benefits.
In my own personal opinion, the labor movement would prosper more if we could some how educate the people. Labor history needs to be taught in theschools, along with US and all the other histories.
All the struggle was done for us. All we do now a days is reap what benefits are left. People don't realize that every single benefit they now enjoy, take for granite came from the struggles of our forefathers. The 8 hr. work day, breaks & lunch break, sick pay, sick leave,vacation, safe working condition, overtime pay, and the list goes on and on. Companies didn't give these things to us, our forefathers, sisters and brothers died for these right we now have.
People have had it too easy for too long and they've lost the will and skill to fight. We can no longer sit idly by and say"Oh well, what are ya going to do" or "They'll do what they want to do". We have rights, which few people know about, and the time has come for us to defend them again before we lose them all.
Good luck in your venture, I hope you all succeed.     Just remind the people, You're not fighting a company, you're fighting
for the right of the working class to survive.


comments:
right on! i worked for barnes-n-evil for 5 long years. though i don't work there (thank god) anymore, it's good to see someone kickin' some shit around. i couldn't believe no one at my store was interested in the union when the issue was first introduced. i was an asst. mgr. and i don't think i've ever seen so many grown people panic as i did that day. the longer i was there, and the more i advanced, starting as a part-time bookseller, the more ridiculous the company became. i had the pleasure of walking out "at will" on christmas eve, and blowing several people's minds in the process. i think it's the schedule, combined with the crappy pay that more people ought to be upset about. i could never get past the fact that i was working my a** off on holiday weekends just to make the riggio's richer. they're open for business TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC 363 days a year and they expect a virginal, perfect bookshelf every time a d.m. comes through the doors. anyway, a union is the only way!
booksellers are going to be able to find a voice and make their situation better. 



Stumbled upon your page, and as an ex-B&N employee, I must say I like what I see.   My store, in XXX, was poorly planned.  No parking. Poorly made.  Ugly.   Leaking roof.  And while it was across from  (largest college in the US), it had little of interest to students - no foreign books, little philosophy.  And due to a contract with a next-door competitor, we sold nothing was being used as text at the university.  And despite the large number of Gen-Xers, no music
department, either.  And no bargain books.  A spare less-than-B&N in a shell of a space.  And when the store began to fail, they lashed out at the employees (all of whom were highly educated, and most of whom either had degrees, or were well on their way).  Mass firings took place (with absolutely no warning).  People coming in were told to go ahead and go
home, not to bother to clock in, they no longer had a job.  This happened several times.  The last time it happened, they specifically fired people who were either ill often (one was in and out of doctor's offices, with a strange illness they couldn't diagnose, and thought he might die.  It turned out to be a congenital problem that could be treated but not cured) or who were considered 'problem' employees (one of them advocated unionization).  One had just announced (a day or so
prior) that his wife was pregnant.  People were told they were being transferred, and were told to go to another store, but when they showed up, the management at that second store had no idea what was going on. And, of course, there was no room left for them at the 'home' store. They were on their own.  One man tacked a note up on his door, saying
he'd rather be dead than talk to anyone from B&N, and was never heard from again.   He did not pick up his things.  He did not pick up his checks.  The manager quit in disgust, and they hired a new one (who claims to be the very first B&N Superstore employee).  This new manager emptied the entire first floor (of three) of all employees save one.
That one had to handle a bag-check, an info-desk, and cash-wrap, largely by themselves.   And when there was no-one in line, they had to pull returns from the science and computer sections.  Employee morale is down.  Sales are down.  Customer satisfaction is down.  One manager -who has no more experience at B&N than anyone else - is incompetent.  He
makes sexually inappropriate comments towards and about women, including fellow employees.   One is probably manic-depressive (though I have no proof, and am not a doctor).   She will be utterly nice to you, and then
insult you in the very next second, over nothing.  She will answer the phone, pause, and then begin to laugh uncontrollably, and then pass the phone to you.  It was merely a person wanting to know the hours of operation.  They have one employee handle all orders - but she refuses to, and has a regular bookseller do the work (while she gets the supervisor pay).  They have another who does nothing but sit in the office, listening to books-on-tape (taken from the shelves, of course)
in order to prepare for her exams.  Two supervisors have shown up to work drunk.   One was sent home, with no other disciplinary measure.  And yet an employee was taken to task for talking overlong with someone.
That someone was a customer.  They were talking about books.  The customer bought a couple hundred dollars of merchandise - all of which had been suggestions.   Books are piled up in the back, since there is
only one person in receiving, and he often has to cover for the supervisors, or fill in as a keyholder.  Books are piled up on the third floor, because if they were in their proper places, they'd be ruined by water from the leaking roof.  I bet management is delighted (we are)  having a drought.  Comment cards are thrown away, unread.   Things have officially gone to hell.  There are now perhaps 15 employees left. Total.  We started out with over 50.  Those who were not fired have
quit.  Now that there aren't any more employees, I wonder who will take the blame?

Probably whatever employees are left, I guess.

By the way - we were told, when we were hired, that if we tried to
unionize, we would be immediately fired.

(Editor's Note:  Telling Employees they will be fired if they try to unionize is ILLEGAL)


comments:
This is an excellent site. You obviously have your facts togther. It is very encouraging to see someone work so hard to bring basic justice to a workplace, especially in one of the service industries. This is certainly the battle of the future. You are prophetic in your vision of just how important these seemingly small battles really are. Good luck in your work!



comments:
I agree with you, the American people need to wake up and realize the only way they will have 40 hour jobs with
benefits and a safe retirement is by belonging to a union.  I am and have been a Steelworker for 28 years, we
have good benefits only because the union negotiated them for us, not because  the company wanted us to have them.
Good luck and don't ever give up.




while talking with a B&N co worker in the "lounge" he mentioned your site. i have worked for the company in both divisions and i must say that i preferred my non paying job at the collectively run *** bookstore here in ***. i found it a tad bit odd that people were asking me if i really liked working there so much so often lately, and maybe it has to do with my activist background or general worry. it is a well known fact that border's employees are treated better than b&n's and while i was hired at a much higher wage than others at my level, people that have worked there for years are still not getting what i am paid. the store was recently taken over by b&n about a month or so ago and it's getting increasingly worse. not only are we constantly told not to lean or sit or drink on the sales floor (even if you have a sore throat and can barely speak), we now must use the scariest employee entrance in the world. employees have also been told not to use the escalators. use the elevator in back and take the most hidden route to your work area... is this disney? are they that ashamed of us underlings? management is trying to tighten the reins and you can feel the paranoia in the air.


Thank you for your bold site. I just started in a B&N as a dept. supervisor and was shocked to find that not only was my salary quite low, but also those of the assistant managers and manager. Everyone (I mean everyone) at the store has the same attitude: I love books, I enjoy selling books, but it is near impossible to live on this pay. The manager complains that not only his hands, but his district manager's hands are tied, in trying to obtain increases. Recently the number of scheduled hours per week has been decreased, which means that fewer people must do more work (as business continues to improve - we beat last year's figures pretty regularly). Good workers - ethical, kind, respectable, knowledgeable people - are leaving. One of our best, who manages special orders, is quitting to go waiter for more money! Again, no one hates the company, but no one is satisfied with the terms of employment. As one who holds progressive views on most, and certainly on labor, issues, I feel like I should help lead the way. I am, however, solidly against the idea of inviting some huge, possibly corrupt, demanding, existing union in to show us what to do. Is it possible (or just idealistic?) that B&N employees could form an insular union, one to represent themselves without career unionists hobnobbing with the executives, a union based on volunteer action? I believe our needs are modest. We are not facing dangerous or oppressive work situations; we merely wish to be valued and paid as professional booksellers rather than as monkeys to point at a shelf or cash register. Besides pay, just for information's sake, the other main complaints are: that we have to clean the bathrooms (do all stores require this?); and that only the three managers get the full hour's worth of break time for an hour shift (the rest of us get 45 mins) AGAINST the clearly stated terms of the nebulous, noncommittal employee handbook. I realize the bathroom complaint appears whiny, but the issue again is our value as educated (most of us hold college degrees) booksellers and the company's treatment of us. As Lenin asked, "What is to be done?" Thanks again. We feel isolated and helpless out here.




I think that some of these union hating college graduates, should wake up and smell the coffee. What do they think enabled their parents to afford to send them to school? It sure wasn't the good intentions of their employers. How can any educated person possibly argue against unions? Unions are the voice of the working class in America. The trickle down effect of unionism is what has brought about more social change in this country than anything else. Before unions came into being, generally, people didn't have the courage to speak out, on social,economical, or political issues, and those that did were persecuted for doing so. Sure, unions have problems, no one denies that. But any organization, or group that includes a modicum of power, will inevitably have problems. If you don't believe that, just look at your local, state, or federal governments. I have worked in many retail occupations,and know that there is a need for unions in the retail workplace. I also believe, that in the near future, people are going to see that they need unions more than ever before in this country, just as the people of Poland did not so long ago. Some of these college graduates should talk with their grandparents about the working conditions they were subjected to in this country only sixty years ago. I support you in your efforts, and as a proud union man, I would like to offer any help that I can give you in that regard.




Congratulations. It's brave working people like you who are going to change our country and hopefully the world someday. Keep up your work.You have my sincere admiration and support.




You deserve a BIG congratulations!!!!!! Thank you so much for all that you have done.




just stumbled unto your page (its beautifully put together). I worked for the University of Chicago Bookstore for nearly ten years--and Barnes andNoble for a year after they bought the store. One of the conditions of the sale was that the store would continue in the Teamsters. We negotiated a pretty decent contract--starting salaries (I believe) at about $8.00 and increases tied into those given by the university. We also had some pretty strong language in it regarding job security (I feel that I was responsible for a portion of it). Unfortunately, our local union officials are both corrupt and lazy--and I have no doubt that there were side agreements.After a year -- B&N had agreed to keep all staff, management and workers,for a year after the sale--6 full time employees were laid off. They were replaced by student workers--even though the contract clearly stated that temporary workers could only be hired to do tasks intended to last for No more than six months. Although cashiering and maintaining book sections are,by any definition, on going tasks, the union leadership maintained that there was nothing that they could do. I had left some months previously to take a job in the university--and was more or less out of the loop.Anyway, the Teamsters are a mess--as you must know if you have been reading the newspapers--and as a member of a ragtag group of union reformers I can tell you that representation on our local level isn't the best. Still, you should know that there are union houses in B&N--the U of C and another college store in either Illinois or Indiana (I forget). I am very hazy on the law--but I think that this might give the Teamsters a foot in the door if they can be persuaded to take it. For a while-our local was under trusteeship and some enthusiastic organizers were hired. One did start to look into organizing Chicago B&N stores. However, the membership elected the tired old crooks back into office and the ball was dropped. I have no idea what the local leadership is in your area-but it might be worth looking into.I was very amused by your dealings with B&N management. In my experience(in the college division) they REALLY hated any kind of unpleasantness or conflict--and therefore went along with the union to some degree--but they also didn't care if they had a dedicated, knowledgeable staff. They seemed to   prefer a young staff that would be personable, but cheap, and would not stay long enough to develop any sort of embarrassing expertise or place any demands-emotional or monetary-on the job. They seem to want everything to be pleasantly impersonal, blandly interchangeable. I think that they know that they get a lower level of work out of their sales staff then if they fostered any real investment in the job--but they don't care. A friend who worked in B&N administration told me that there were no real book people in any of their executive positions--and that knowledge of, and love of, bosks is considered something of a liability--an unnecessary distraction. At U ofC they were, and still seem, very out of their depth with their very academic audience. However, on the national level they seem to be providing what people want--an unintimidating, predictable bookstore. I am very curious about what's happening at the Harvard coop since they bought it. Do you have any idea?




El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido. Viva Zapata!




I think your arguments and concerns are well-written and convincing. Keep up the fight. If everyone banded together like this, I am sure a lot of workplace injustice would be addressed. I left a large Fortune 100 corporation because of this. I now work for a small firm of 15, with a common goal. Good luck.




I was employed at Walden books for 3 years. It was the job I've most enjoyed over the years but I was forced to resign due to insufficient salary. I was hired in at $4.25/hr. After 3 years and a promotion to Key Holder and Receiving Clerk I was paid $5.40/Hr. I was the responsible for the store almost every weekend. A full-time employee and always received good evaluations. I struggled over my decision to leave the bookstore for over a year. While I was so poor that I literally ran out of food twice, I rationalized that I was happy there and that money would take care of itself. Over the year I was worn down and brought to reality. I am still paying off credit card debts from that time. I remain resentful at the company. I look back and think that I did my job well, was valued by the regular customers, but finally forced out of the company by greed on their part. The article about your unionizing efforts brought back these feelings. I wish you well and you can count me as a strong supporter.




After forty-two years of teaching ... I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your work and dedication to fairness for employees. All the years I taught I was a member of the American Federation of Teachers and I do realize how much of a struggle it is to obtain fair wages.




St. Crispin didn't have the web.




comments: Love of money over people's innate equalness is certainly a Barnes & Nobles executive's priority. I support everyone's right for a fair life. Historians evaluation of the Medieavel lord/serf society as the DARK AGES is so right. I pray that your hearts will be strong for such a necessary battle as unionization!




It appears that Mexico society is a role model for CEO's. Keep up the good work on this site!




comments: I'm a middle age bookseller who has been in the book business on and off for a long time - 25 years. Seen a lot of changes in the business over the years - principally the rise of corporate booksellers and their contribution to the death of independent bookstores; but one thing remains the same... the hostility and law-breaking tactics that are used time and again by management to subvert employee participation in unions. We won a lawsuit brought by the NLRB against Barnes and Noble when there were a number of illegal actions and firings against labor activists at 105 5th Avenue in the 1970's - but of course, even though we won the lawsuit and back pay and offers of our jobs back etc., B&N really won because their intimidation tactics terrified lots of employees from even thinking about signing union cards - and so the union drive died. True, historically, and today, do know that the corporation will stop at nothing to dissuade, intimidate and fight union organizing. Be especially aware of who are your friends and who is not - our union drive was infiltrated by company plants we thought were on the worker's side but clearly was not. Good luck in your efforts to make bookselling not just a passion but also a profession in which one can make a living wage.




comments: great site. I used to be a B & N bookseller after I graduated from college. Like many of my co-workers, I needed to work while I was figuring out what my next step would be. B & N helped me figure it out real fast. They treated me and my fellow workers worse than I had ever been treated by an employer. The combination of high-handed attitude and low wages really got me: we were being paid less ( between 1/2 and 2/3rds) of the money that I had earned working summers in a wharehouse,. They expected us to act like we accepted that our college degrees entitled us to no more $7.25/hr. and all the miserable treatment we could handle! Well, I decided that I wasn't going to spend any more time allowing idiot managers, with neither book nor business nor people sense (and who, as one of your readers aptly put it, did not know the author of Catcher in the Rye) to watch me as I shelved books- indeed, I promised myself I would never again work for anyone I didn't respect. I went ! to law school. I have become a union side labor lawyer. I haven't forgotten how me and my friends at B&N were treated. I know and I have seen that often, helping to organize a union is the most empowering activity a person can take, and has psychological benefits -in increased dignity, etc.- for employees that sometimes outstrip the monetary rewards. Best of luck to you my brothers and sisters- and let us in the public know what we can do to help you. I'm sorry I never had the initiative to do what you're doing now. Once again great web site, and if I can be of any assistance, please write back Editor's note: Please write back. You never left your return address!!




On some other fronts, have you come across "Confessions of a Union Buster", by Martin Jay Levitt? I may have written about it months ago. Read it. Also, you may appreciate Jim Hightower's "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos." It's pro working folk.




a very info-packed page. just want to say right on and good luck from someone who was a union organizer for SEIU. unbelievable how at a time when most workers are suffering tremendously and working hard to make ends meet, and the same time the bosses are making more money than ever... it never ceases to amaze and anger me-- i guess that's what gives people like us the fuel to keep struggling.




I appreciate the info. I think the company is out of its mind... It seems to have NO connect- ion to any kind of bookselling culture or principles. Most of the people work- ing at the stores do, but as you near management levels, it disappears. I stepped down from my position as keyholder last year to become a full-time bookseller. The difference in wages was so little compared to the daily b.s. level. I now have a chance to know what's going on with books (!) as opposed to keeping up with insulting management techniques. Anyway, good luck dealing with the corporate demons.




comments: I agree with you, the American people need to wake up and realize the only way they will have 40 hour jobs with benefits and a safe retirement is by belonging to a union. I am and have been a Steelworker for 28 years, we have good benefits only because the union negotiated them for us, not because the company wanted us to have them. Good luck and don't ever give up.




comments: Hello, I don't work for Barnes & Noble, but for another retail business which organized and became a union store with the UFCW, about 8 years ago. I was one of the original organizers. I since have been one of the two Shop Stewards and I also sit on the Labor Management Committee. The store that I work for was considered, by external eyes, to be a place that one wished to work because of it's political correctness and fairness to it's employees.( At least this is the way owners/management wished it to be viewed.) The truth was, it was a retail business and the almighty dollar ruled. Most people were not paid a living wage. Some people were paid a living wage and were instructed not to discuss their wages with other employees. Secret salaries abound. Resentment brewed. We organized 8 years ago and it's been one of the best things to happen to the employees and business alike. I received a $2.00/hr pay raise when we went union. We now have one of the best retail contracts in the state. The business has thrived and morale and productivity has increased 10 fold. There is no us against them mentality anymore. We have a clear voice regarding our working conditions. There are no secret salaries. No whim terminations. We are treated with dignity and respect. I wish the best for all of you in your efforts to unionize.




I am so glad that i found the flyer to this site and the Borders site on my subway ride to work this morning entitled "Fair Share For Borders Workers" I thought & felt i was alone and that no one else could see B&N in it's True colors. Thank you soooo much Keep up the Good work.




I tried to organize a Union at the Borders store in DC. Although it didn't materialize I have come to realize that our efforts have softened the ground for a future push and have made it easier for a Union effort to succeed. I applaud your bravery. And, as a fellow poet, you should be expected to suffer for your art, or at least, if you do, do it on your own terms. I no longer work for Borders. They tried to scare me out and put pressure on me in various, insidious ways. When I threatened to sue, they stepped back, but it exposed a very ugly side of the company which I guess I knew was there for good, so I left as a conscious protest. My advice is to form a support group immediately and meet regularly outside the store. The organizing effort must become a part of your daily life until the election. It sounds like B&N will put the screws to you, so be prepared. Continue talking to other organizers. Keep a record of EVERYTHING that happens at work and keep on people at breaks to meet after work. Call them at home. I think it's important and necessary to make the UNION word very much a part of day-to-day consciousness in the store. People will hate you for it and some will love you and many won't give a damn. Doesn't matter. Just keep pushing but get support behind you and don't do all the work. Amen. :-) I hope things turned out all right with your discussion with the District Manager. I'd be interested to find out how things went. Good Luck!




hey right on.




comments: My only bookselling experience was working at a used bookstore but I've been researching union issues ever since my brother was unfairly fired from his job. He wasn't a bookseller, either. My point - it finally comes! - is that union activity is of vital necessity for most workers in the U.S. Despite glowing reports on our economy, the majority of jobs are in the service industry where (as you well know) employees can be fired at-will, wages are low and stagnant, and there is little chance of promotion or appreciation. Companies complain when workers want to unionize but it wouldn't be necessary if they didn't have such policies as immediate and unfair termination. With no recourse and no job security, what are people supposed to do? I wish you the best of luck and think you're site is great. This is like the Roger & Me of the internet, only you've actually spoken to the head guy. Congratulations on that.




Yours is the best example I have seen so far of using a webpage as a tool for organizing your workplace. Actually, I don't see many union-oriented webpages whose primary function is to present the argument for joining a union to a currently unorganized workforce. Most I've seen are oriented to servicing the existing membership of an already represented group. There is much I could learn from your approach in improving my own union's website at Mississippi Alliance of State Employees/CWA Local 3570. Lots of success in your efforts. If there are letters of protest to be sent in connection with your organizing drive, please drop by the above URL and leave a message with appropriate instructions in our guestbook.




Although I may not agree with 100% of what you're saying here (I only agree with about 98%), I applaud your efforts and am very impressed with your site. I also admire your drive. Fight the good fight. Never give up!!
editors note: I only agree with about 99% myself.




comments: I Live & work in the NYC area and work for B&N. I have worked for B&N for over 5 years and before that i worked for a smaller chain. Last year from Sep-Dec i took a leave of absence and i finally quit. Moved to NYC and decided that maybe a different B&N would be different. Sorry to drag on...Well, the cliff notes version is this: I have worked &continue to work very hard for B&N for many years, although as some people say "this is not a career choice so why are you complaining" I feel that B&N employees are very underpaid for the services that they provide for the community. A good bookseller is a knowledgeable one and that can only come from training and experience. With the wages that B&N pays they induce heavy turnover. Thus leaving you with your typical High School student who has no idea who wrote "War & peace" let alone where to look for it and it doesn't belong in Militay History......My job is made twice as hard in this situation because they all come to me for the answers cause i seem to be the only one who has them. New employees that have started this Christmas with the new wage plan in effect are now making a quarter less than i make after all my years with the company. My management tells me that "B&N doesn't recognize how long i have been with the company because i quit and then was rehired." B&N seems to realize enough to put me in a position of authority, watching over those who are paid a quarter less than myself. The management tells me this is "to make the wages earned at B&N more fairly distributed" Well, what about fairness when my wage is concerned? I am paid 7.50 and hour i live in Manhattan. Think about that for a moment and then i think to myself I work with over 13 mothers half of them are single mom's. How do they make ends meet????????? B&N needs to unionize to make it a better foundation in the communities that it has taken up residence in. Happy holidays!!!




I am actually quite glad now that I have worked these "dead end jobs" (and I use the term "dead end" not because they are inherently worthless positions but because our society places so little monetary and social respect upon them that people feel they have to escape them in order to do "better"). I have seen what my fellow eastern private school graduates probably will never see. I have seen and experienced first-hand how companies have screwed their workers. The social costs created by these monopolies (even if they might cause the all-hallowed GNP to rise) are greater than their CEOs seem to have the foresight to see. We all pay the costs of a disgruntled working class.




comments: Hi there, I wish you the best of luck. I happened across your page because I was looking for the B&N website to buy some books via the net. Not only will I not do so now, but I will not, until I see that you have been successful in obtaining your first collective agreement. See, I was once where you are now. Struggling to unionize flight attendants who worked at my company. I don't know how many times I was suspended/fired on trumped up charges, only to be reinstated by the Labor Board because the company was using tactics to avoid having us unionized. It's a long road. Just make sure you are fighting for yourself and no-one else. I forgot to mention.... I was also involved in a 16 month lockout of Flight attendants at the company I worked at. (the longest in North America)




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Just a few examples.
Waiting for permission to fill in the blanks... :)
Cheers ...
Wes

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