As an author and an enthusiastic reader, I love bookstores. I want to support bookstores that treat their employees fairly and respectfully, because knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff are the difference between a good bookstore and a great bookstore. So I was delighted when the staff at my local Chapters/Indigo store became members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and recently reached their first collective agreement.
Traditionally, retail outlets staffed by younger or part-time workers have been perceived as challenging to unionize. I was curious about the process that led to the formation of the Indigo 771 union, so I got in touch with Ariel Popil and Alex Johnson, the two union stewards at the store. They graciously agreed to be interviewed via email about the experience of organizing the union.
[Note: since this discussion took place, workers at another Chapters/Indigo location, at Kennedy Commons in Scarborough, Ontario, have started a certification campaign.]
How many full-time and part-time staff work at Indigo/Chapters Pinetree? How many of those staff are in the union?
There are about 30 part-time staff members at any given time, and we have one full-time staff member. All part-time and full-time staff are part of the union.
When did the organizing campaign start, and why did it start? What was happening at the store that made the workers want to be represented by a union? (more…)