The 90 employees at McNally Jackson, with five New York City locations including three bookstores and two Goods for the Study stationery stores, voted to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on Thursday. Word of the vote first began to spread this past Tuesday.
“I’m proud to say I’m now part of the RWDSU. Workers across all five stores face issues of harassment at work, favoritism, and lack of dignity and respect," said Kathryn Harper, McNally Jackson Williamsburg Bookstore worker.By coming together, we are stronger, and I am confident we can shape our workplace into a place we all want to come to work each day.:
The next step in the process is to hammer out a contract. "It’s about time McNally Jackson workers had a real seat at the table with the company and we’re ready to get to work on our first contract,” Harper said.
In a press release from the union, several position were outlined by the booksellers, including:
- We deserve respect at work: Workers should not be subject to verbal abuse from owners or managers in any workplace.
- We want a safe work environment free from harassment with strong policies in place to protect us: In the past, workers have faced harassment and have found a lack of a voice for a way to address these incidents. We need clearer guidelines and policies to address these serious issues.
- We need to be properly compensated for our input and dedication to McNally Jackson: We need better wages. The Tipped Minimum Wage is not enough for barista workers and fluctuating take-home pay leads to financial stress. Workers sometimes have their pay cut if moved into a different position with no notice. We should be paid in a timely manner. We should be paid overtime pay for overtime work as per New York State Law.
- We need better structures in our workplace: Too often things are done informally, and roles are not always clearly defined. Clearer guidelines about things like how we access our benefits, transfer between stores, etc. are needed.
- Favoritism is a problem at our workplace: We need more defined positions at work. There should be standard pay scales for certain positions at our store.
McNally Jackson employees join those at Book Culture bookstores, who are also represented by the RWDSU; employees at Housing Works, the homelessness and AIDS nonprofit that also operates a bookstore and café in downtown Manhattan, are in the process of organizing, and are also represented by the RWDSU. Elsewhere in New York City, the employees at the nearby Strand Book Store have been unionized since the 1970s and are members of the United Auto Workers union.