About a year ago, four half-price bookstores in Minnesota were unionized, and on November 16, Wichitas Half Price Books voted to unionize, becoming the eighth.
Anna Kalnina and Darcy Jantzen led the movement.
“In the last year. We’ve been talking to colleagues underground, asking them, ‘How do you feel about other stores joining together?'” Kalnina said. “Slowly through that process, we started proposing, ‘Hey, maybe we can join together too.
Unions are largely responsible Terms of work Fire exits, breaks, sick leave, eight-hour work days, overtime pay, etc. are now in place.
“My goal is to ultimately democratize the workplace, so workers have a say in what’s going on in their stores instead of people taking the time to visit those stores and learn the needs of the store,” Jantzen said. “I think workers generally know better.”
Half Price Books has two managers: a store manager and an assistant store manager. He is there every day and all the workers can go to him about anything going on in the shop. Top management is different from store management.
“The relationship between workers and upper management is difficult. It’s hard to hold them, it’s hard to get timely responses to things,” Kalnina said. “We think a lot of things slip through the cracks, so we want to improve.”
Upper management did not respond to The Sunflower’s request for comment.
Some employees believe that if management treats its employees well, there is no reason to organize. Unions give workers a voice, Jantzen and Kalnina said.
“The bottom line for most corporations is to work as little as you can, and I don’t think that’s right,” Jantzen said. “I think it’s important to tell the workers. Management usually takes it personally. We don’t see it that way. We love our management. It has more to do with corporate policies than our direct managers.
Workers at Half Price Books said they love their jobs. He said the company is progressive and his starting salary is $15, according to Jantzen and Kalnina.
“But why stop there?” Kalnina said. “Why not listen to your workers and make it even better… I like to say I love my job, but I wish it wasn’t followed by a ‘but’.”
Half Price Books employees said unionization gives some workers a seat at the table. Unions said the people who run the company now listen.
“After Thanksgiving, we’ll start bargaining. It’s very exciting,” Kalnina said.
For more information on unions and unionization, go here https://aflcio.org/formaunion.
“I grew up in a union family and I saw the gains in wages, health care, things like that,” Jantzen said. “To me, it’s worth it. No matter where you work, whatever you do, it’s always worth having a say in your work.