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UFCW Abandons Borders Drive

The United Food & Commerical Workers Union has abandoned its high-profile publicity campaign to pressure Borders Books into dropping its union-busting. The UFCW bought magazine ads and organized demonstrations beginning Oct. 1, but quickly learned that Borders' union-busting management was completely uninterested in agreeing to the neutrality agreement the UFCW was hoping for.

The UFCW lost union representation elections in Harrisburg, Penn., and Evanston, Illinois, Dec. 19th, and has reportedly pulled its organizers from Borders stores across the country. Borders has signed a second contract with the UFCW, covering workers at its Des Moines, Iowa, store. Like the contract signed earlier in Chicago, it contains no pay increase beyond Borders' pre-existing national scale and generally mirrors Borders' personnel manual. Borders has effectively used these contracts to persuade workers that they have nothing to gain by unionizing.

The IWW's boycott - called when the bookselling chain fired IWW organizer Miriam Fried as part of its national efforts to intimidate workers - against Borders Books continues. Although Borders seems to have succeeded in silencing or getting rid of most union supporters right now, the miserable pay and working conditions will inevitably lead workers to organize. And when they do they'll be looking for a union ready to fight the bosses - not grovel, begging them for "neutrality."

Meanwhile, in Chicago African-American merchants in the South Chicago neighborhood of Beverly are taking up arms against Borders' plans to invade their community. 95th Street has evolved into a black shopping district as corporate operators fled to the suburbs and several black-owned stores replaced them. Borders has already served eviction notices on a dozen merchants who stood in the way of their plans to build yet another "superstore" where they stand. City officials have joined the dispute, offering tax money to Borders and other operators willing to help drive the black merchants out.

Barnes & Noble Unfair

The NLRB has charged Borders' main competitor, Barnes & Noble, with a pattern of union-busting activity against workers at its Louisville, Kentucky, store.

According to the complains, Barnes & Noble has been spying upon and interrogating workers suspected of supporting the union, forbidding them from talking to one another in off-duty time in the parking lot, offered a variety of pay hikes and other inducements to workers if they abandon their union efforts, and constructively discharged a union supporter.