Barnes & Noble employees at Hadley store seek to organize a union, among 1st in bookstore chain

  • AP

Staff Writer
Published: 4/18/2023 2:56:08 PM
Modified: 4/18/2023 2:55:57 PM

HADLEY — Both booksellers and baristas at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers at Mountain Farms Mall are seeking to organize a union, contending that such representation is needed to improve the work environment and to negotiate better conditions at a workplace where they say they are underpaid, underappreciated and disrespected.

“We believe that unionizing is the best course of action for us to take to ensure that our workers are cared for and prioritized in ways that Barnes & Noble has so far consistently failed to do,” the workers of Store 2088 wrote in a letter sent to the company.

A supermajority of signatures were collected from the 18 workers for union representation, allowing them to file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board that, if successful, could make them the first Barnes & Noble unionized workers in the 785-store chain.

“We believe that with a more democratic voice in decision making processes, we will be able to work more effectively as a team and better serve our community,” reads the letter addressed to Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt.

The workers cite their inspiration for pursuing a union election as both a sister store at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, whose workers filed for an election earlier in April, and the successful effort last year at the nearby Trader Joe’s at Hampshire Mall.

Organizers are working with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459 in advance of the election.

The organizing efforts comes as Barnes & Noble’s profits and success appears to be increasing. They point to the company for the first time in a decade opening new stores and renovating existing ones.

“If we workers are what makes B&N thrive, then we deserve to have a voice in the processes and decisions that affect our ability to succeed,” they write.

They also cite low pay, disrespect for management, inconsistent hours and scheduling, poor communication and working out of job classifications, by doing training and other duties they are not assigned, all of which affects staff morale.

A final complaint is whether the Hadley store is accessible for those who aren’t able bodied, with an observation that workers are supposed to have displays that get people to look at the merchandise for sale.

“Management and corporate have also repeatedly ignored concerns voiced by booksellers, baristas and consumers alike about the lack of accessibility in the store,” they wrote. “We are reminded that we must set up the store in a way that purposefully makes it difficult for customers to navigate.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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