Politics and Prose, a 37-year-old Washington, D.C. institution, has become the District’s first unionized indie bookstore after owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine reached an agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 regarding the scope of union representation. The agreement comes after two weeks of negotiations following store owners' initial demands for a union representation election.
UFCW Local 400 is now recognized by P&P as the collective bargaining unit for 54 of the store’s 104 employees; they are both full and part-time and work across all departments. Besides P&P’s flagship location on Connecticut Avenue, there are two smaller P&P locations at The Wharf and at Union Market.
UCFW Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“Both parties are committed to working together collegially and constructively to negotiate a contract for unionized employees and ensuring that Politics and Prose continues to play a vital role in our community,” UCFW stated in a joint release issued in conjunction with P&P’s co-owners.
Graham and Muscatine added: “As stewards of a local, independent business with a 37-year legacy of progressive management and mission, we’ve valued collaborating with employees to solve problems and address needs, and we look forward to working with the union in the same spirit.”
P&P’s employee organizing committee also issued a statement, declaring, “We are proud to join the growing movement of booksellers and baristas across the country who have unionized their workplaces. Forming our union has not only served as an affirmation of our shared values within the Politics and Prose community, it will also strengthen our workplace and ensure the long-term success of our beloved community hub.”
In recent years, employees have formed unions at McNally Jackson Books in New York City, BookPeople in Austin, Tex., Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, Bookshop Santa Cruz in California, and Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. Employees at The Strand Bookstore in New York City, Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., and Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass. have been unionized for years.