Uptown Borders slated to close

Categories: Business
The Uptown Borders bookstore, one of two unionized locations in the country, is slated to shut down on June 1st. According to a letter received by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789, the union that represents the workers, the company has been unable to negotiate a new lease for the Calhoun Square location.

"The landlord is unwilling to allow Borders to remain in its current space in the mall," reads the letter, signed by attorney Mark Shiffman. "The landlord has offered Borders alternate space which is less attractive."

Anne Roman, a spokeswoman for Borders, claims that no decision is final. "We have talked with the employees about the possibility of closing that location," she says. "I'm not able at this time to go into any specific detail with you regarding the possible reasons for that."

In 2002 the Minneapolis store's employees voted to join Local 789, making it the only unionized outlet in the country. Subsequently the company's parent store, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, also voted to unionize. After a bruising two-year negotiating process, a labor contract for the Uptown store was finally agreed to in November of 2004.

Bernie Hesse, an organizer with Local 789, wonders whether the union's presence impacted the decision to shutter the store. "You've always got in the back of your head, 'Are they discriminating against these people because they belong to the union,'" he notes.

Local 789 will attempt to negotiate severance pay and transfers to other Borders stores for the impacted workers. "Obviously we're disappointed," Hesse says. "We're going to see what we can do."


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