Aug 31, 2023 - News

Powell's Books workers to strike on Labor Day

Illustration of a book with the pages made of money.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Unionized workers at Powell's Books will hold a one-day "unfair labor practice" strike on Labor Day after months of ongoing contract negotiations with management.

Why it matters: Monday's strike will be the first in two decades for the independent bookseller. Union members hope the move will put pressure on the company ahead of its bargaining session the following day.

What they're saying: "I don't think any Powell's workers are super excited to strike," Michelle Carroll, a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5's bargaining team, told Axios earlier this month. "It's something that's being seen as a necessity."

Catch up quick: The union is asking for a "pathway to a livable wage" to cover out-of-pocket costs after Powell's put forth a new health care plan with higher deductibles for employees since starting negotiations in February.

  • Powell's proposed a starting wage of $16.25 an hour, but union representatives are hoping for $21.85, based on MIT's living wage calculator estimate for Multnomah County residents.

State of play: ILWU Local 5, the organization that has represented Powell's 300 workers since 2000, said instead of walking off the job, none of its members will show up to work on Monday.

  • Instead, Powell's employees and supporters will picket outside all three of its retail stores, with a larger rally happening outside the Burnside location at 1pm.
  • Union representatives told Axios they're asking customers not to shop in-store or online on Labor Day.

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