Three years ago, Powell's Books employees voted to become ILWU Local 5, and fought for their contract tooth and nail (read more at http://www.ilwulocal5.com). Now, the union and management are at negotiations again for contract #2. For the past two months, its been pretty mellow, but Thursday the 25th, things got ugly when management introduced its economic proposal "concept". For their first act, management proposed an essential wage freeze, with the hard barganed wage step increases of the last contract eliminated. This would mean that no matter how hard the employees at Powell's Books worked, they would not be rewarded at their anniversary time with a wage increase (formerly 3% increase at employee's anniversary). Instead, management would like to award an across the board 1% increase once every 8 months for the next 4 years. To put this in perspective, this would mean minimum wage in Oregon would rise faster than Powell's employee wages would (The mandated cost of living is 2.02%). For most employees, making somewhere around $8-$11/hr, this would mean a $.10 raise every 8 months instead of a $.30 raise twice a year (once at anniversary time, and once in November to adjust for cost of living). Instead of 18% (under the 1st contract), or 21% (proposed by the union for this contract) over THREE years, management would like to give a whopping 6% total raise over the next FOUR years. While employees are being paid less, they would pay more for health insurance & doctor visits, pay triple the present cost of prescription drugs, and have to pay a separate dental deductable. Meanwhile, Powell's has purchased a new warehouse in NW Portland, reduced its pool of employees from 450 to 405 causing an increased workload for everyone, raised the price of used books while buying them for less, and has continually increased sales as well as sales goals & projections for the past three years. Friday and Saturday, Powell's employees all over Portland said "No Way" to management's "concept", through sticker action and email.
To help Local 5 get a fair contract, let Michael Powell know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (a simple "no way" from you would be awesome too!)
To donate love & support for the barganaing team and Powell's employees, email email@example.com (no spam, no junk, just love please)