Barnes and Noble's
Attempts at Unionizing


Borders, Inc. is not the only bookstore experiencing labor strife. Barnes and Noble's employees have followed Borders and attempted unionizing also. Barnes and Noble stores in Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas City, Missouri, and Arlington, Texas have begun unionizing efforts.

Complaining about shrinking wages, as compared to corporate profits, Barnes and Noble's employees have taken a cue from their rivals Borders. They are attempting to join with the United Food and Commercial Workers union to give employees what they want: more money and more stability. Haven't we heard this before? It is what Borders employees and everyone wants: a bigger piece of the corporate america they have built.

Just like Borders, Barnes and Noble does not like the idea of even talk of unions coming through their stores. Unlike Borders, Barnes and Noble does not pretend to be a "liberal, social-conscious" company. Their main concern is making money for their stockholders and executives. Barnes and Noble also has had charges leveled against them from the NLRB for anti-union activities. Clearly, their priorities are not with the employees.

The Barnes and Noble and Borders union movement also has a big fan. Wesley Gibbs started a web site explaining why Barnes and Noble employees need to unionize. Gibbs, a former Barnes and Noble employee, created this lengthy Website to continue the work he started when he attempted to organize a union at the Louisville Barnes and Noble superstore. He has included information dealing with the NLRB and what your rights are in creating a union. He has also included financial information on his page regarding Barnes and Noble, and uses it to show the inequities between shareholders and employees. His work has lead to many inquiries from Barnes and Noble employees from all over the country asking for more information and advice.

When Gibbs was gathering support for his union, Barnes and Noble executives quickly came in and announced they were conducting surveys into pay scale. When they discovered that they were paid lower than comparable jobs in the Kentucky, they increased pay for the workers. All thanks to Gibbs's work with the union. Gibbs continues working for Barnes and Noble's employees as an outsider now, but he still updates his sight and informs employees of their rights.

Barnes and Noble settled their fight with the NLRB in Louisville, and have been cautious with further actions against pro-union people. The labor union movement is a fact of life in bookstores, and Barnes and Noble and Borders are beginning to learn how to deal with them.

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