Union workers at 4 metro area Half Price Books stores go on strike

Half Price Books workers go on strike

Half Price Books workers go on strike

Unionized workers at four Twin Cities metro-area Half Price Book stores have gone on strike, causing the stores to temporarily close.

Thursday, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Locals 1189 and 663 launched their strike, saying the company failed to approach negotiations with enough respect.

The strike affects the locations in St. Paul, Blaine, Roseville and St. Louis Park.

“We’re fed up. Half Price Books management has repeatedly failed to approach negotiations with the respect and seriousness workers deserve,” Hanna Anderson, an employee at the St. Paul location, said in a statement.”Instead of living up to Half Price Books’ purported family-owned values, management offered workers an offensive 1 percent wage increase while violating federal labor law in the process. If Half Price Books wants its values to be anything more than a shallow punch line, then management should stop their hypocrisy and treat workers like family by providing us with real raises and the security a union contract provides.”

The union posted pictures of the striking workers together on social media Thursday.

UFCW says eight Half Price Books stores have voted to unionize and a vote for a ninth location is set for next week.

John Budd, a labor expert at the U of M Carlson School of Management noted an upsurge in retail workers organizing and unionizing post-pandemic.

“I think the pandemic was a wakeup call for a lot of people, jar them out of complacency,” Budd said. “Organizations were making decisions about safety standards and making decisions for you in terms of what you should be comfortable with, in terms of interactions with co-workers, customers, and things like that.”

“We didn’t really feel supported in enforcing the mask mandates. Customers would get very upset, but we didn’t have a lot of backup, knowing that the company would be behind us,” added employee Hanna Anderson.

Kathy Doyle Thomas, president of Half Price Books, sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

“While we are unable to discuss specifics about the negotiation progress, Half Price Books strives to provide competitive benefits and good working conditions for all of our employees across the country and has been a progressive workplace for all of our 50+ years. Because we cannot ensure the safety or efficiency of our operation, we have decided to close the St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Northtown and Roseville stores temporarily. We look forward to reopening and serving our customers as soon as possible.”