At the Strand Bookstore, a Retail Labor Struggle in the Age of Amazon and Occupy

| March 16, 2012 4:00 AM

The Strand Bookstore, located at 828 Broadway in the East Village, is widely considered a New York City icon. Recently, employees say the independent book store has developed a corporate-style atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Blog Nueva York.

In an age where online retailers are forcing  even the largest corporate chain book stores to close, The Strand in Union Square is one of a handful of great remaining independent shops left in New York City, beloved by many New Yorkers. And while most retailers of books, as well as other goods, aren’t exactly known for their excellent employee treatment, most of The Strand’s employees have been members of the United Auto Workers Union (the union supports many industries besides auto workers) for 35 years, and labor rights activists long pointed to the store as a model of good retailer policies.

But lately, Strand employees say that the owners are giving them a raw deal and transforming their workplace into the kind of corporate-style environment they think The Strand should stand against. And now, with help from the Occupy movement, some employees are mobilizing to fight back.

In addition to circulating a press release to local universities and labor groups, employees told MetroFocus that if The Strand’s owners won’t move forward with contract negotiations, they intend to escalate the pressure — possibly with a strike.

Chris McCallion started working at The Strand a little over a year and a half ago, but last February, when the chain retailer Borders closed, he started to notice some changes.

“Since Borders went under they’ve [The Strand's owners] been directly harvesting managers from those stores,” said McCallion. “Normally they’d promote someone who’d been working here for a while, someone who was a good worker.”

They’re counting on the fact that if we get lower wages we’ll just go find another job. But we want to protect the interests of the working class.
—Chris McCallion, Strand employee
While it might not be surprising that an influx of corporate management would rub an independent bookstore employee the wrong way, McCallion says the problem is that in the past year or so, The Strand has hired more non-unionized managers than they’ve ever had (“about 33 or 35″). The contract of the 150 or so unionized employees expired last September. McCallion said that in December, after they’d hired the outside managers, the Strand’s owners offered the unionized rank and file employees who stock the shelves and man the registers a new contract that would reduce their paid personal days and sick days by nearly half, and nearly double the amount each employee would have to pay for their health insurance premiums.

McCallion said that when he started working at The Strand, employees would start at $9 per hour, become unionized after a three-month probationary period and would often end up receiving 25 or 50-cent raises every six months from the owners, on top of the 33-cent raises every six months guaranteed by the union. Employees conspicuously stopped receiving those merit-based raises about a year ago, multiple employees told MetroFocus.

But The Strand employees have a larger complaint.

“Personally, I think the biggest problem is that they want to introduce a two-tier wage system,” said a 24-year-old female Strand employee who started working there nine months ago, and asked that her name not be used. “That’s been the main tactic to break unions since the auto industry was going under.”

Most unionized employees — particularly those who work in traditionally non-unionized private sectors (for example, the Broadway janitors who nearly struck last December over a proposed two-tier wage system) — agree that offering two different contracts pits new and old employees against one another in order to break up unions. It creates conflict between them at the collective bargaining table.

What a two-tier wage system would mean for The Strand is that anyone who started working after last September would receive smaller raises and receive less paid sick days, vacation days and benefits than longer term employees, said Will Bobrowski, The Strand’s shop steward (an employee who also acts as a union representative), who has worked there for nine and a half years. “It’s an aggressive position, negotiating-wise, I think that’s clear,” said Bobrowski.

Do all the workers feel this way?

Some of the employees circulated a survey through their shop steward, detailing the proposed contract in order to see how other employees felt about it. They described the resistance to the two-tier system as “tremendous.”

Eddie Sutton, The Strand’s general manager (he got his start there sweeping floors in 1991), said, “Since 1976, we’ve worked with the union transparently and in good faith and we continue to do so. We live in a very challenging economy and for bookstores large and small the challenges are even greater with significant shifts to E-readers and the Internet. We’ve managed to keep all of our staff fully employed against this uncertain backdrop and have never laid a single person off in the process. We are proud of all of our booksellers in all departments who continue to provide our customers with a truly positive and singular New York experience seven days a week.”

The Strand’s argument that financial pressure from the online book industry is forcing them to make sacrifices in order to keep their doors open sounds very understandable. But according to one employee in his 20s, who’s worked at The Strand for over a year and asked to remain anonymous, the store achieved record sales last Christmas. The Strand did not comment on its annual earnings to MetroFocus.

The Strand is known for its massive collection of used and rare books, which, according to legend, would span 18 miles if lined up domino-style. The Strand's general manager said the store has never laid off an employee, but it is facing difficult competition from E-readers and online retailers. AP/Mary Altaffer

According to that employee, the commonalities that unite the vast majority of The Strand’s unionized employees — they work 40 hours per week, aren’t originally from New York and are often pursuing artistic work on the side — also makes them vulnerable to intimidation.

“We’re naturally insecure, we don’t have family here, so they make you feel like this is the only thing you’ve got to hold onto. The managers are not in the union and that’s for a reason,” he said, adding that he sensed many of the managers are scared about losing their jobs, but are being pressured to intimidate employees by their bosses.

But according to McCallion, the most vulnerable employees are the people who’ve been working their the longest, and who have the highest salaries.

“About a year ago they offered the older workers a buyout where they’d pay them a week’s pay for every year they’d been here, if they voluntarily resigned,” said McCallion. ”We lost a large number of our older workforce.”

At this point, he said, most of the oldest employees work in the warehouse on the top-story of the building, but just recently managers suddenly announced that the warehouse operation would soon  be moving to Brooklyn. The added commute, he believes, would force the warehouse staff to consider retirement.

“Any changes that we’ve made, including moving our warehouse to Brooklyn, are all designed with one goal on mind, which is to keep this 85 year literary old landmark both vital and viable,” insisted Sutton, the general manager.

But employees say the warehouse move is also an attempt to weaken the union.

“Older people are being pushed out, and they’re under increasing pressure from management to leave. Meanwhile, younger workers are coming in at a much more rapid pace of turnover. It’s obvious where that trend is leading,” said McCallion.

This is not the first time the Strand has had to deal with labor issues. The store is co-owned by Fred Bass and his daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden. At this point, employees told MetroFocus, the senior Bass isn’t very involved in the store’s day-to-day operations. In 2008, back when it existed in print formNew York Press reported that under Bass Wyden — a former Exxon employee who’s married to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) — there were allegations of racial discrimination against The Strand’s employees. It was reported that management nearly fired a pregnant employee who needed to take time off for doctor appointments. One employee, Saundra Buchanan, told the New York Press that Bass Wyden “would actually come into the bathroom and we’d be washing our hands…and she would say, ‘You should be using the bathroom on your break time!’”

The employees MetroFocus spoke to said they haven’t experienced this behavior since they began working, but instead are feeling a different kind of pressure, this time related to their contract.

“We want the company to be under enough pressure that they’ll sit down at the negotiating table and offer something reasonable,” said McCallion, who added that he believes that isn’t happening because the owners and managers perceive the pressure as coming from the union’s representatives, and not the employees themselves, in addition to the fact that unions don’t have a particularly powerful influence in the retail industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, only 5.4 percent of retail employees were union members.

And that’s why for the last few months, some of The Strand employees have been meeting with labor activists in the Occupy movement’s Occupy Your Workplace working group. “They’ve become an incredible resource for all these little struggles that are simmering,” said McCallion.

For The Strand employees, that’s meant working with labor activists to figure out how to build strength among the rank and file workers through techniques like the aforementioned survey, and generally knowing that there are people outside The Strand willing to support any future labor actions. On Thursday, Strand employees distributed a press release detailing their complaints. Multiple Strand employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said that a strike is never out of the question.

“They’re counting on the fact that if we get lower wages we’ll just go find another job,” said McCallion. “But we want to protect the interests of the working class.”

  • Maria

    The Strand is one of the only retailers in the city that pays close to a living wage. I hope they can come to a conclusion that preserves these jobs.

  • Jed Brandt

    As a former employee of the Strand and a lifetime customer, the Bass family should take care with how they treat their workers. Introducing a two-tier wage system is sure to bring resistance from the workers, and if there is trouble — have no doubt that customers will not cross a picket line at the Strand.

    It wasn’t a great job, but it did feel like a family-run business in the age of corporate anonymity. The Strand is a great bookstore. Let’s keep it that way.

    • MIA

      STRAND HAS GREAT BOOKS, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE OWNERS?
      THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES!!! IS WHY THEY DON’T OFFER 401K,,OR A RETIREMENT PLAN.A FORMER EMPLOYEE WHO WORKED THERE SINCE 1969 AND LET GO IN 2010? WAS LET GO WITH NO BENEFITS OR MONEY!!! BASSES CARES ABOUT THE BASSES

  • Friend in struggle

    Maria,

    What a low bar you are setting for Strand, its workers, and for the rest of the retail industry. Sad that you have yet to see the light that many of us in the Occupy movement and others around the country are inspired by.

    • Maria

      I think you misunderstood my comment. I want them to preserve the current structure that provides the employees with a living wage, not take it away so it pays like any other retailer which is what they are trying to do.

  • John

    The Strand has been in business since the depression and the bulk of this article quotes the opinions of someone who has been at the store for less than 2 years? This is suppose to be high level journalism? These are trying times indeed for the print book business, Sterling Publishing just let go several high level execs, the independent bookstore chain Book Warehouse in Vancouver just announced they were closing and this is just yesterday’s news. So if you think the primary reason Strand is moving the warehouse to break the union here is a real news flash: warehouse space in Greenwich village costs a tad more than it does in Brooklyn.

    • Toaster

      FYI, the Basses own the entire building, which includes the (former) fifth floor warehouse. The cost of the space in Manhattan versus BK is not an issue.

      • jb

        Oportunity cost, they can rent out the current warehouse for more than it will cost to operate the one in Brooklyn.

  • Anonymous

    John, true enough, but this issue isn’t really about the warehouse. Plus, as the article states, a number of the “lifers” have been nudged out of the store in the past few years.

    I think the biggest thing to highlight here is this paragraph:
    “The Strand’s argument that financial pressure from the online book industry is forcing them to make sacrifices in order to keep their doors open sounds very understandable. But according to one employee in his 20s, who’s worked at The Strand for over a year and asked to remain anonymous, the store achieved record sales last Christmas.”

    Yes, generally speaking times are tough for the industry, but if it’s true that the store is actually doing BETTER than ever, then cutting back employee benefits is pathetic.

    • Steve

      Quote: “But according to one employee in his 20s, who’s worked at The Strand for over a year and asked to remain anonymous, the store achieved record sales last Christmas.”

      Do you really think that a youngster with barely a year of tenure is a good source of intel for the financial workings of the company? He may have heard some scuttlebutt on the sales floor, and maybe sales *were* up, but information like this is anecdotal at best. Anyone who seriously believes bookstores everywhere aren’t battling for their very existence is a fool.

  • Former Employee

    Strand has gone under, abusing the hard work ethics and enthusiasm of their employees. No Eddie Sutton, they haven’t laid people off, but by purposefully changing their schedule to one that does not fit their lifestyle it is an easy way to get them to quit, isn’t it?

    As a former employee I feel I underwent some racial prejudice at the hand of a manager who went out of her may to make my last few months there miserable.

    It doesn’t take long for someone working there to realize that the upper managements utter disrespect and disregard for it’s workforce is appalling. Shame on you for trying to disrupt union raises and health benefits; shame on you for pretending that money is tough to come by when I know for a fact that Christmas sales this year were higher than last; shame on you for making Strand Bookstore into a business that sells bacon flavored toothpaste.

  • Actually, management made it quite clear to all employees (new and old) that sales were at an all-time high in December.

    I don’t think it’s fair to assume that just because someone is relatively new to the store that they don’t know what’s going. The Strand employs full-time workers who are there 40 hours a week. In a culture where everyone goes out together after work, it doesn’t take long to figure it out.

  • Former employee II

    I worked at Strand five years ago and even THEN the working conditions were absurd. Nancy Bass used – and from what it seems, still uses – intimidation to “keep the workers in line.” Forget about the fact that she knows absolutely nothing about books, she was a terrible presence for all of the employees in the store. The extent to which the store has now become a ridiculous parody of its former independent self (selling candy? wax lips? how much Strand merchandise do you need to clog up the arteries of that store??) makes it no longer a stop for many bibliophiles I know. What a shame.

  • Workers for a Democratic Workplace

    Original press release and other information:

    http://w4dw.wordpress.com/

  • Nancy

    Live long enough and you see so many downturnings in the world. It’s awful that an institution like the Strand would become enmeshed in a capitalistic battle; what ever happened to the idea of serving the community? I told the very same thing to the people in Fairway market about price gouging the community that made it a wealthy organization. The Strand owners and management know that the store resides in a community that has deep roots in sound social policies, and those policies include fair play towards employees!

  • gerald

    “The Strand’s argument that financial pressure from the online book industry is forcing them to make sacrifices in order to keep their doors open…”
    Yes, there are pressures from the online book industry. However, unlike Borders, the Strand has successfully assimilated its business in response to these pressures. In 2010, nearly 25% of its annual earnings were made through internet sales. With “record sales” in 2011, I can only assume business tactics towards internet sales only increased. One thing I am certain of, however, is the fact that the success of this assimilation to internet sales would not have been possible without employees of the Strand. In contributing to the success of the Strand, it seems that the Strand is adamant in rewarding its employees with lower wages, cutting benefits, and breaking up the union. What’s right?

  • David

    When I moved to Los Angeles for a while, I would take pictures of the Strand with me to remind me of what I missed most about New York. It was reassuring to know it was still there. It was exciting to enter the store, to breathe in an atmosphere of intense seriousness about literature. It was like entering the Gotham Book Mart, but less effete and more nitty gritty Manhattan. You could find something precious wherever you stepped, and it was really inexpensive.So I have always loved the Strand, and I don’t know the ins and outs of these arguments about the store’s labor practices. But as a constant visitor to the store, the changes in its ambience are obvious. The trend toward commercialization of the store is marked. There are far fewer reviewer copies available, a way of obtaining books at half price. Almost all new books are reduced in price by only a dollar or two, at best. More and more books are sold without any discount at all, such as the “Complete Stories of Ernest Hemingway.” The Strand used to be a place where almost all books were available at vastly reduced prices. So it’s not just a matter of the candy and junk on sale at the front of the store; it’s an overall change of direction in which books are being treated as commodities more in the tradition of the commercial bookstores.Also noteworthy is that bookstore signings and seminars are usually not for serious books, but rather commercial books that, I would guess, publishers have probably paid to promote there. (A notable exception was the Nat Hentoff book about a year ago, but that was highly unusual.) The Strand was a sacred place for booklovers; much of that feeling is still there residually. But the changes are happening quickly, and the feel of the place as a precious institution of literary New York is already somewhat diminished.

  • Marc

    I am a long time customer of the Strand bookstore. I used to look forward to my dad taking me there from Brooklyn as a kid and I have worked the last 15-20 years in the neighborhood and quite frequently go there during lunch and often walk out with a book (or two). I am surprised to hear of the way the employees are treated, especially by Nancy Bass Wyden, and of the racial discrimination and the pregnancy discrimination. I will not be visiting Strand so frequently anymore. I have also noticed generally higher prices for books. Many times I have seen a book that I wanted but was overpriced so I wouldn’t get it. Many times these books have dust jackets and have been in near mint condition. Come back a few times and the dust jacket is now ripped but the price is the same. The books don’t move once they have been messed up on the shelf. And the sad part is that if they were marked down (like they used to be) I (or others) would have purchased that book on first sight that is now worthless. Many of us collect. I don’t want a ripped dust jacket and bent pages or dented covers. I found this article quite by accident this Friday night and I am really surprised about the behind the scenes goings-on at Strand. What a disappointment.

    • Paul

      I’m appalled by all this complaining. I love the store and always have — that it is vibrant, alive, and still one of the great bookstores in the world is amazing in a corporate wold where independence means nothing.

      • Former Employee

        Does independent to you mean striving to sell more merchandise than books? The first table in that store is one covered in tote bags, not books. What lines the registers? Jesus pens. Do you believe being vibrant and alive is taking advantage of hard working employees? I’m appalled with you, not the “complaining”.

  • Paul

    Yes! in a sea of chain stores for a store that loves and knows books to still exist as n independent spirit —

    Enough sour grapes!

  • Leslie

    I worked at the Strand years ago, but I never had any of these difficulties. Yes, people complained but don’t people always complain. It’s easier to complain than to be happy you’re employed in a climate where you’re lucky to have a job!!!!

  • Sherman Rushman

    I have been a customer for over two decades, I’ve seen the the movement from a store which valued the fact that its employees read books, knew books, thus could help customers with valuable advice on purchases, to a store run without the literary, history, et cetera soul of the store.
    If the Strand employees strike, I will honor the picket line, and so will all my friends in and formerly of Columbia. We tend to shop more and more at bookstores in Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey. They’re small stores but have better deals, better quality books.

  • marlene dodes-callahan

    I have been shopping at the Strand for decades and really appreciate the very knowledgeable friendly staff. I hope that they are compensated fairly for their work and not pushed out due to their desire to make a decent wage, while the Basses are certainly being compensated handsomely.

  • HR

    From insiders that have been working at the Strand for many, many years, they’ve pinpointed the two people responsible for these awful corporate changes: 1) Nancy Bass, daughter of Fred Bass, the owner, and not a book person herself (nor a people person, for that matter), and one of the main managers, Eddie Sutton, who many say is gradually turning the place into the complete opposite of what is so special about the place and why New Yorkers (and tourists) love it so.

  • maria perez

    I am a former employee who worked 10yrs straight.I endure sexual harrasment.,stayed and witness their cheating unfairness!!I am currently in a civil court battling false allegations!the strand is nothing but a stepping stone to hell!!

  • Per

    I worked briefly at The Strand, and it was among the most unpleasant working experiences I’ve ever had. A sizable percentage of the working population there was positively morose; an equal amount seemed chipper in the face of the day-to-day degradations of an unhappy workforce, with a trio of outstandingly misanthropic bosses at the helm of the enterprise. All in all, a good plurality was in the firmly depressed camp; when expanded to “merely dissatisfied,” it was surely a strong majority. It’s easy to romanticize the Strand, and I still think it’s a wonderful place to buy books—but it’s an awful place to work. In the end, as I imagine it is at Barnes & Noble and was at Borders, the Strand treats books as retail objects. They are lucky to have customers who believe the store operates with higher-minded concerns.

  • former emloyee # 1000

    I worked at the strand for almost a year 3 years ago, and it was hands down the worst job I ever had. Nancy was a nightmare, and many of the managers were hired from outside and had no sense of “book culture” or basic people skills. Being in the union meant nothing- you could be fired for minor infractions of her rules at any time. Also there was a “wage freeze” the union could do nothing about. This was to create fear you would lose your job and get you to stop complaining, because the book industry is “clearly” going under. Sounds like it’s just getting worse for employees…

    Before working there I loved the strand, and after I just want to scream at everyone in NYC to stop shopping there. It’s really gross to me that others in the comments are saying “you should be happy to just have a job” or “they pay a livable wage” or “at least it’s an independent bookstore.” In regards to the latter, there are many other independent bookstores in NYC- we are lucky in that way. Other independent bookstores that are not run by racist corporate bodies. Shop around the corner at the used bookstore on 12th and 4th, or down the street at Shakespeare and Co, or St Marks Books, or many many more in Brooklyn.

    I quit, became a dog walker and made about $100+ more per week working 10-15 hours less. I would recommend dog walking as a profession to basically anyone that likes dogs and isn’t scared of rain/ sore feet.

  • Fred

    The article and comments are revelatory and make me less likely to browse and buy at Strand. Because it is an independent bookstore, in the past, I have purposely gone out of my way to shop there.

    In recent years, as their prices have gone up and my income down, I have been buying much less and have rediscovered the (rather good) public library. In fact, I’m again reading much more widely, since money is not a factor.

    I must admit though, I still enjoy those (increasingly rare) $5 finds and most of all the 49 cents paperback bin with its occasional gems. I do, however, buy books as gifts.

    I fully support the workers and will not enter the store if they go on strike.

  • Former Employee # 50?

    A long time ago I worked at the Strand for about 13 years and never needed a union or anything else. The first words Ben Bass said to me in 1968 when I told him I’d work for $50.00 a week were: “We want to pay you a living wage.” And they did. They gave me a $20.00 salary increase before my first paycheck. They would give advances on your paycheck if you ran short of cash! Around the Christmas holiday season when her mom was helping out in the store, little Nancy used to sit with me while I typed invoices. There is nothing wrong with the Strand Book Store and its owners. The Bass family is among the most liberal family I’ve ever known and I do not have a bad word to say about them. I still quote Ben to this day: “Freddie, we have a live one!” It was a joy and an education to work there. My coworkers and the clientele were more interesting than anything anywhere else in NYC. And I’m still married to one of them more than 40 years later! Working at the Strand was quite a ride, and I cherish every minute of it and thank them for putting up with me. I think you people don’t know what you’re talking about. OK, go ahead, complain some more…

    • Harpy

      I’m with you. I worked there for eight and a half years and was never treated with anything but respect. Newbies fresh from college would always arrive with more complaints than imaginable. First time workers in the real world where things aren’t free.
      The Strand is a family owned business that apparently still works in a stagnant economy.
      More power to them.

    • Current employee

      Fred and Ben don’t run the place any more. I wish they did. From what long-time employees have told me, more has changed in the past 2 years than in the 40 prior to that combined. You simply can’t assume that we still live in this dream world of the 60s. You think they still give us advances? They stopped that a couple of years ago, and I haven’t had a merit raise in 4 years. (I used to get them regularly.) Haven’t had a union raise in a year either for that matter.

      Yes, I do love my coworkers, and I even love the place in all its dusty glory. You at least have that part correct. But the mood of the store has totally changed.

  • Former Employee # 50?

    The “dream world” of the 60′s?
    What, are you nuts?
    Don’t kid yourself. People back in that dream world worked hard for the money. Yes, it was a long time ago and things have changed, but people do grow old and retire, and businesses evolve (if they are good enough to STAY in business)… That’s just the way the world is.

    • Former Employee

      are businesses suppose to evolve for the disadvantage of the work force? Ben and Fred don’t run the show, that little Nancy who wrote invoices with you does. And to be honest, she is most likely the downfall of this bookstore, for she is the one enforcing the wage freezes and inability for workers to take a handful of sick days. A two-tier wage system (where no one is getting advances) encourages animosity among coworkers and produces a hostile work environment. Strand was a great store and everyone who worked there was great, but people are still working hard for the money with little to no compensation for their efforts. The business is de-volving at a disgusting rate.

    • maria

      former employee 50.. try working there now and lets see if you are going get treated the same..the arguement is about being fair,honest..and strand is not!! all any advance was taken away because the one inside manAGER THAT STILL WORKS THERE IS FIXING HIS OWN POCKETS. THE STRAND IS THERE THANKS TO THE LOYAL WORKERS..NOT THE OWNERS

  • Former Employee # 50?

    OMG, I give up. Be happy with your misery. Complain some more. Oh, and by the way, MERIT raises are awarded to employees because they merit (deserve) a raise…Go start your own successful business. One last comment: I currently work in an EXTREMELY hostile environment, with everyone stabbing everyone else in the back if they get a chance — sadly, this is the modern world. And I still work HARD for the money.

    • Lily Briscoe

      Congratulations on being so content with living in a miserable world where people “are stabbing everyone else in the back.” No, this isn’t *the* modern world. It’s *a* world that people have created for themselves, mostly by sitting around and doing nothing about it (“that’s just the way it is”).

      I have no doubt that you work hard for your money. We’ll see how you feel the day you’re fired and how happy you are with “the modern world” then.

      It’s remarkable how authority can get people to submit so easily to misery and think it’s a natural state of affairs. If you want to live your life that way, fine. Just get the hell out of the way of people who aren’t going to bend over for a few dollars.

      • maria

        LILY LET YOUR VOICE AND THE THOUSAND OTHERS THAT ARE SEEKING JUSTICE!! BE HEARD.DONT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS…..HOW MR.SUTTON PAY WAS 60 HOURS A WEEK?? YOU TELL ME HOW WHEN THE STORE OPENS AT CERTAin time???? fight for your rights..no work no cuts.

  • Former emp

    Seriously emp#50? Can’t you accept that the idyllic Strand you worked at no longer exists? It has changed and definitely not for the better.

  • harry j.

    years ago, rank and file Strand employees decided it was in their interest to organize into a union, and they did. today, these workers are engaging in concerted, protected, and democratic activity for their own mutual aid. They proud- and in most cases, young- workers, and by standing up against divisive 2-tier proposals i think it’s clear they are committed to protecting the unity of their union, ensuring a future for the company their labor made rich , and democratizing the workplace they share.

    The Strand workers are standing up to say that a dignified standard of living- and the rights of workers to determine and demand these standards democratically- must be the rule, not the exception. elsewhere, the city’s thriving retail industry continues to profit at the expense of the retail workers it exploits- *because* of the fact they are among the least organized and most vulnerable of employees.

    The corporate lie that unions and the higher standards they’ve set “can’t be afforded anymore,” is not being rejected out self-interest. It is simply a rejection the inhuman standards forcibly impressed upon everyone who is *not* fortunate enough to have a union. their question should not be “why does that guy get healthcare?”, but instead: “why don’t I?”

    With their victory, Strand can send a message to the rest of the City’s unorganized majority- retail workers, young workers, “independent” workers, tipped workers, and all those who don’t know the meaning of “sick day” and are forced to believe that a “job” comes for starvation wages, zero health benefits, dangerous conditions, and no opportunity for a future.

  • Richard Tutching

    While all business’s wish to be profitable there is such a thing as the worker who makes that possible! Without workers the business folds plain and clear! The misconception on the management is that they are interchangeable parts and that is not true! As a retail manager for almost 30 years I chaff at the ways that corporate culture attempts to permeate their stench of management style as a my way or highway ultimatum! When will these Corporate Drones wake up out of their zombie states and realize that they are no better than the inmates at a concentration camp! While the camp commanders give the marching orders they don’t realize that they are next…

  • Former Employee # 50?

    Sad that all you book folks can’t actually read, write or punctuate correctly.
    Guess I’m just luckier than you’s…Or smarter maybe???????? Or living in the real world?
    Just because you exist does not mean you have value. (Sorry…)
    Anyway, good luck to you.

    • maria

      former employee 50!! itS OBVIOUS TO A RETARD LIKE YOU THAT EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET THE STRAnd? WELL YOU TRY COMING UP WITH A BETTER IDEA?? IM SURE YOU ARE RETIRED LIVING OFF OF TAX PAYERS MONEY..GO FIND A LIFE WHILE WE TRY TO MAke a living!!!!!!!

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