Workers at the Barnes & Noble on West 82nd St. in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on February 20. Workers are seeking representation with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

This marks the third unionization effort launched at a B&N location in New York City in the past year, and follows significant renovations at the store over the past year and change. The location was one of the first B&N superstores in NYC, and its arrival in the neighborhood in the early 1990s proved divisive—especially when independent booksellers that were once staples in the area began to close, blaming B&N for siphoning off sales.

The move is only the latest in a series of labor efforts across many sectors of the book business in recent years, but especially in bookselling. In that sector, the RWDSU has been a big player, including leading successful organizing efforts at McNally Jackson and Greenlight Bookstore.

Organizing workers have asked Barnes & Noble for voluntary recognition, according to a a statement from the RWDSU, which added that the company "has yet to do so at any store despite overwhelming, sometimes even unanimous, shows of support for union representation." Workers in the proposed bargaining units include booksellers, baristas, cashiers, maintenance, and all other non-supervisory employees.

“As a Barnes & Noble bookseller, I take immense pride in the role we play in our Upper West Side neighborhood and, as a company, in local communities across the country,” said Lauren Champlin, a bookseller at the Upper West Side B&N store, in a statement. “In organizing, I want Barnes & Noble employees to receive the pay, protection, and respect reflective of the care and specialized skills each of us brings to our role.”

Eve Greenlow, another bookseller at the store, added, “I care a lot about my coworkers. I want the best for them, just as I want the best for myself. We deserve not to have to worry about affording groceries, we deserve safe levels of staffing, we deserve consistent hours, and we deserve agency over our working conditions.”

There are currently five unionized B&N locations across the country—in Manhattan, at the chain’s flagship Union Square location, and Brooklyn, at the Park Slope neighborhood location.; Hadley, Mass.; San Jose, Calif.; and Bloomington, Ill. There is also one unionized B&N College Booksellers, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. That store is operated by Barnes & Noble Education, a public company that is not affiliated with B&N. Bargaining continues at all of these locations, but no contracts have yet been ratified.

In an interview with PW in January, B&N CEO James Daunt seemed to accept that unions have become a fact of life—not just for B&N, but for the broader bookselling community as a whole. Given that reality, Daunt said, investing in career structures, and the "training and development" associated with those programs, “is a key priority” for B&N.

This story has been updated with further information.