Barnes & Noble workers at the Park Slope, Brooklyn, store filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on May 25, seeking representation from the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The news comes a little less than a month after workers at the flagship B&N store in Manhattan's Union Square launched their own union drive, and on the same day as 15 workers at the B&N outlet in Hadley, Mass., voted unanimously to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1459. The Union Square B&N election is scheduled for June 7.
In a release, the RWDSU said that a majority of Park Slope workers had signed RWDSU authorization cards and that workers had asked B&N to voluntarily recognize the union "so that contract negotiations could commence swiftly." The election, the union added, could be held as early as next month. There are more than 30 union-eligible workers at the store, including baristas, booksellers, cashiers, and maintenance staff.
"I have been working at this store for over a year, and I constantly see how our low wages affect me and my coworkers in what I can choose to afford each week," Haruka Iwasaki, a senior bookseller at the Park Slope store, said in a statement. "There is an unfair balance in how much I am working and how much we are getting paid. I want all of us to experience full-time benefits like health insurance if we work full-time hours. For these reasons, we are coming together to create a better way to work at this place that we love."
B&N workers organizing union drives at multiple stores have now launched new national social media accounts: @BNWorkers on Twitter and @BarnesandNobleUnion on Instagram.
Earlier this week, at the U.S. Book Show, B&N CEO James Daunt addressed changes to the company's previous hierarchical employment structure, noting that the bookseller is focusing on providing better compensation and career development opportunities for bookstore employees. Virtual attendees responded to Daunt's assertions in the online chat, asking why the company has not raised base pay. Daunt did not directly address whether the company believes store employees are showing broader interest in unionization, nor did he clarify whether or not the company would support those efforts.
This story has been updated with further information.