A 15-6 vote in favor of forming a union at a Borders store in Minneapolis last month was the latest effort in sporadic attempts by employees at various Borders outlets to organize.
Jennifer Christensen, union representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789, which is looking to represent the booksellers, told PW the effort was initiated by store employees. She said the workers were prompted by the union's "You Are Worth More" campaign to galvanize workers at other retailers, in particular at locally owned Target.
"The bookstore employees were real intelligent and up on the issues," Christensen said, adding, "as a union local, we're looking to expand our retail organizing in general. That gives us an opportunity to expand at other area B. Dalton, B&N and Borders stores."
The Minneapolis Borders is the fifth Borders store whose workers have voted to unionize, and three stores arrived at a contract with Borders, although the unions were eventually disbanded. Six stores have defeated moves to unionize.
Christensen said employee turnover as well as a corporate campaign against the union most likely contributed to the inability of previous unions at Borders to negotiate contracts or to remain together. Jenie Carlen, a spokesperson for Borders, said the company "meets our legal obligations to enter into good faith negotiations" with the unions.
A date for a vote is also expected soon in an effort to form a union at the former Borders flagship store in Ann Arbor, Mich. On October 25, a union organizing committee at Ann Arbor's Store 1 authorized the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 876 to talk to workers about voting on a union.