The e-book industry has taken off, thus Powell's profits have sank, yet every employee there magically thinks this shouldn't affect them in any way and wants to paint Powell's as some evil monster for doing what it needs to do to survive in the shifting book/ebook economy. Get real.
That's quite an assumption you're making.

Powell's seems to be doing more business than ever before AND they sell books online. Whatever drop they've had from e-books, I think it's just as valid to assume they've more than made up for that by drawing every dedicated book nerd in three counties as well as gaggles and gaggles of tourists.
Shared hurt is one thing, but the trend of passing the losses onto the frontline workers is nothing new in America.
I was fired for "theft" from Powell's because I rang up a book that was labeled BY SOMEONE ELSE at the wrong price. The costumer thought I was cute, which Powell's discovered by trolling craigslist. So they fired me because I naturally must have left the cashier station and printed a new label, because this random customer thought I was cute. I also must have foreseen the future to know the costumer thought I was cute via her posting 4 days later. I had worked there for 12 years. SO, yeah, Powell's isn't an evil monster. They never began to harass me right after I had a kid--Like saying we had to be at work for an hour before getting a cup of coffee. Or telling a wheelchair bound employee she'd have to figure out a way to reach the time clock, because having someone clock in for her was "time-theft"
I worked for Powells for a year and was let go a year and a half ago. The biggest piece of middle mgmt bs I have ever seen. And why does a bookstore have a union? The longshoremen? The head of the union is a pompous ass, a dilettante communist landlord (read snake eating its own tail). People who have a secured a living wage ($16/hr) feel obligated to reinforce this cliquish power-hungriness while the 11$ hr workers get free acupuncture but can't make their student loan payment. Make healthcare a right and not a privilege in this country and you will see wages rise and insurance companies go bankrupt. Has an insurance company ever gone bankrupt? They must love the ILWU Local 5.
Commenty Colin, that is not an assumption.

Internet sales and a hard to enter ebook market have decimated Powell's sales. Tourists do visit powell's, but those are not repeat customers. Powell's needs repeat business for steady cash flow.
Powell's has been trying to crush the union, and scale back already measly benefits, since at least '03/'04 when I was working there. I'm glad I got out, but those who've had to stay (or have started since then) definitely deserve our support.
What's wrong with being represented by the longshore workers? They're tough, I want them on my side. Who cares if the president of the local is a communist? Communists have a long history in the labor movement.
Don't worry about the insurance companies. They buy plenty of congressmen to make sure they're taken care of and that we'll never have universal health insurance. I advise that people check out to check the Durham/Lopez campaign.
As another former Powell's employee, who has several friends still working there, I sympathize greatly with Stephan's sentiment in this interview. I am so sad about how management has decided to move forward with transitions and poor decisions, because it was one of the best places I ever worked and I have many fond memories there.
From what I know about Powells profit, they're not doing great, no one in the book industry is, but I can't help but think there are better ways to go about making changes. Driving out knowledgeable and dedicated employees (several of whom are dedicated book nerds and published authors) shouldn't have to be one of them.
Powell's Profits were up last quarter! The company isn't struggling, it's just terribly structured, top heavy with far too many (high paid) managers. They're actively union-busting too, driving out longtime employees and replacing them with low-paid part-timers. They're effectively creating a two-tiered workforce that kills solidarity. Like so many others, I'll be diving off of this sinking ship soon, it's just become unbearable.
If the Powell's is union busting then they really aren't any better than Amazon. At least Amazon doesn't try to hide behind the typical "Local Small Business" Jargon; belching falsehoods about "Being local and caring about their employees". Not to mention Amazon has a website and ordering system that doesn't completely suck. Shame on them for trying to bust the union. To another posters point... "Powell's Profits were up last quarter! The company isn't struggling...."
At least Amazon's cheaper.
arenit, you don't have a clue and. Stephen, VicBoone, wazz and others have been there (and in some cases, for many years) -- as I have -- and are speaking the truth. If you haven't worked for Powell's in the last two years of heavy turnover and inquisition, you can't imagine how bad it is. Another myth out there is that all Powell's employees must be making a pot of money because they have a union. Not true. Increasingly, new hires are part-time or temp with little or no benefits and even so many of them leave quickly when they see which way the wind is blowing.

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