May 5, 2023 | News Story

Barnes & Noble Workers at Flagship Union Square NYC Store File For Union Election with RWDSU

On Friday, Barnes & Noble workers at the flagship Union Square, New York store filed for their union election with the NLRB seeking representation with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).  The filing comes amid a streak of wins by the RWDSU at independent booksellers in the New York area, including McNally Jackson, Goods for the Study, Greenlight Bookstore and Book Culture.

The election petition came just hours after Barnes & Noble management refused to immediately voluntarily recognize the union. A delegation of workers at the store shared with management that a majority of workers had signed RWDSU authorization cards. With a majority of workers in favor of forming a union, workers asked Barnes & Noble to voluntarily recognize the union so that contract negotiations could commence swiftly around a host of issues workers are contending with at the bookseller. Workers at the store face continued safety issues amid the rebound of New York City post-pandemic including workplace harassment, substandard pay for the industry below that of independent booksellers, unstable scheduling practices, a lack of structure when it comes to job duties and tasks at work, and favoritism by management.

“Safety is a major concern for us; we’re working at the flagship store in the middle of Union Square, in New York City and we don’t have the proper training we need to handle the conflicts that arise at our store. As the city rebounds from the pandemic we’ve seen an increase in homeless and combative customers in our stores and we want to keep ourselves and other customers safe. In order to do that we need added safety measures only a union contract can provide. We need conflict resolution training and safety protocols and equipment to handle our day-to-day jobs. Our store also continues to be short-staffed with many of us needing cross-training in a multitude of work areas. That kind of proper training isn’t provided and we’re not compensated in a way that fairly reflects the work we do. We’re stretched thin, and with a union we’d win the pay, needed benefits and long-overdue training and safety resources we need to attract more co-workers and adequately staff the store so our customers have a safer and better experience shopping with us,” said Desiree Nelson (She/Her), 52, Lead Bookseller, Union Square Flagship Barnes & Noble. Read more here as well as in Gothamist, Bloomberg, and amNY.