A constantly shifting set of rules and regulations for small businesses in the midst of a global pandemic and an important step forward for its workers’ labor rights has made a very unique situation for one Capitol Hill business.
Elliott Bay Book Company, the most prominent shop in Capitol Hill’s independent retail scene, is closed to the public and moving its sales to phone and online only through March 31st to do its part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But it is also the center of what could be a big change for labor rights for Capitol Hill retail workers.
Friday, a small group of current and former Elliott Bay employees announced the formation of the Book Workers Union. And, unlike many other small, local efforts around unionization, they announced they were moving forward already recognized by management.
“Many of our customers treasure Elliott Bay because it represents an alternative to Amazon, a company that has posed an existential threat to our bookstore and bookstores across the country,” two-year employee Jacob Schear said. “But by recognizing our union, Elliott Bay has set itself up to be a true alternative to Amazon.”
Joined by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, Schear also made it clear the independent book retailer was ready to work with the newly formed effort.
“The management and owner, Peter Aaron, has formally recognized our union,” he said. “We are a union shop! We worked very closely with managers at Elliott Bay and we’re excited that they recognize what a thoughtful and talented staff they have who keep every aspect of the store running.”
Now the sides will need to set about bargaining “for a fair contract on behalf of the employees of the Elliott Bay Book Company,” the union said in a press release.
In its announcement, the Book Workers Union set out its objectives. “The union’s members believe a bookstore is much more than a retail space, and they will work to make sure Elliott Bay’s role in the community reflects the values and character of its staff,” it reads — Continue reading