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Filing Follows the Union Election Filing by Workers with RWDSU at Rutgers University’s Barnes & Noble Education Store and Follows an Unbroken Streak of Union Bookstore Wins with RWDSU Including Independent Booksellers McNally Jackson, Greenlight and Book Culture

(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, Barnes & Noble workers at the flagship Union Square, New York store filed for their union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Region 2 seeking representation with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). This comes on the heels of workers at the Barnes & Noble Education store on the Rutgers University campus filing for their union election, as well as the workers at Barnes & Noble in Hadley, Massachusetts earlier this month. Also, in news today, the election for workers at the Barnes & Noble Education store on the Rutgers University campus has been set for Friday, May 12, 2023. These filings come amid a streak of wins by the RWDSU at independent booksellers in the New York area, including McNally Jackson, Goods for the Study, Greenlight Bookstore and Book Culture. 

Today’s election petition came just hours after Barnes & Noble management refused to immediately voluntarily recognize the union. A delegation of workers at the store shared with management that a majority of workers had signed RWDSU authorization cards. With a majority of workers in favor of forming a union, workers asked Barnes & Noble to voluntarily recognize the union so that contract negotiations could commence swiftly around a host of issues workers are contending with at the bookseller. Workers at the store face continued safety issues amid the rebound of New York City post-pandemic including workplace harassment, substandard pay for the industry below that of independent booksellers, unstable scheduling practices, a lack of structure when it comes to job duties and tasks at work, and favoritism by management.

“Safety is a major concern for us; we’re working at the flagship store in the middle of Union Square, in New York City and we don’t have the proper training we need to handle the conflicts that arise at our store. As the city rebounds from the pandemic we’ve seen an increase in homeless and combative customers in our stores and we want to keep ourselves and other customers safe. In order to do that we need added safety measures only a union contract can provide. We need conflict resolution training and safety protocols and equipment to handle our day-to-day jobs. Our store also continues to be short-staffed with many of us needing cross-training in a multitude of work areas. That kind of proper training isn’t provided and we’re not compensated in a way that fairly reflects the work we do. We’re stretched thin, and with a union we’d win the pay, needed benefits and long-overdue training and safety resources we need to attract more co-workers and adequately staff the store so our customers have a safer and better experience shopping with us,” said Desiree Nelson (She/Her), 52, Lead Bookseller, Union Square Flagship Barnes & Noble. 

“I’m organizing for pay raises in a city where the cost of living is rapidly increasing, but our wages are not. In addition, workers’ safety is consistently brushed aside in exchange for high profits while we suffer the consequences,” said Kaitlyn Keel (She/Her) 24, Bookseller, Union Square Flagship Barnes & Noble. 

Union siblings at Rutgers University’s Barnes & Noble College Booksellers store in New Brunswick, New Jersey share workers’ concerns at the Barnes & Noble flagship:

“Starting a union at Barnes & Noble is about creating an organized environment that cares deeply for the workers within the franchise. It is about creating equal opportunities, equal rights and justice within the industry to protect current and future workers that dream of one day working here. It is about ensuring that all that come and take part in making Barnes & Noble what it is, and have the human rights they deserve like equal pay, healthcare rights and job security. Forming a union at Barnes & Noble only strengthens us and leads us closer to a better society,” said Lamia Abdallah (She/Her), 21, Bookseller, Rutgers University Barnes & Noble Education Store.

Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers are separate companies. Barnes & Noble is a privately held company headquartered in New York City. Barnes & Noble Education is publicly traded under BNED on the NYSE and is headquartered in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

When successful, the RWDSU will represent over 100 current NLRA eligible workers at the flagship store in New York and an additional nearly 70 at Barnes & Noble Education at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The workers in the proposed bargaining units include Booksellers, Baristas, Cashiers, and all non-supervisory employees at each of the stores.

Pending the parties’ ability to come to a stipulated agreement swiftly, the NLRB could set this election for as early as next month. The election at Barnes & Noble College Booksellers in New Jersey will be held on Friday, May 12, 2023, with election results expected sometime after 4:00PM ET that day. More information about an election date and procedure will be available via the NLRB.

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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States, including 45,000 in New York State. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at,

Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.