• Thomas James
A couple updates on the plight of Powell's Books workers who survived the the round of layoffs two weeks ago.

One thing a couple workers have griped to me about? A script that a Powell's manager sent out with advice for how to respond to customers' questions. Check out the script below the cut.

At a union meeting last night, a roomful of workers agreed that the Powell's union (ILWU Local 5) should launch some sort of campaign to get Powell's to end its current hiring freeze. "I think people are upset because the company didn't exhaust all options before the nuclear option of laying off workers," says union rep Ryan Takas, who says the union offered to put off a wage increase. "The main demand would be that we need more workers to do a good job."

The union contract bans walkouts and strikes, but it has a funny clause allowing workers to answer customers' direct questions. In previous campaigns, the union has asked its members to all wear stickers or buttons, then when customers ask about the button, the workers can talk about the campaign. It's also possible that the union could stage a "break-out", asking all its members to take their break at the same time one day, but Takas wasn't sure whether that's legal under the contract.

Anyway, below the cut: The suggested employee script for talking about layoffs.

This script was sent out by Meredith Schreiber, a Powell's store manager. Check it out:

Greetings- Now that the news is out I would imagine our customers will be asking questions. It might be helpful to read sample responses below, just in case.

Q-I'm sorry to hear about the layoff, will Powell's be OK?
A-Thanks for your interest and concern. Yes, Powell's will be OK.

Q-Is Powell's Being impacted by e-books?
A. Yes, it seems clear that recent sales decreases the company has experienced are related to shift to e-books. However, lots of customers like you are coming through our doors everyday. We really appreciate that. Thank you for being here.

Q. Does Powell's have a strategy for responding to the industry changes?
A. The combination of our bricks and mortar stores and our internet capabilities will stand our customers, and by extension Powell's in good stead. We are in the process of adjusting to changes in our industry and we are fortunate in having a strong foundation to work from.

If a customer persists too long in conversation it's okay to excuse yourself and just thank them for their interest and concern. If a customer has questions you are not comfortable with please page for the MOD to assist.