Book People unionizing for better wages and benefits

Salvador Samudio has worked at Book People for years.

He enjoys his job, but he says he and his coworkers deserve more. “What we were really concerned about and kept hearing is that we weren’t making a living wage or we weren’t getting a fair wage for working at a retail bookstore,” said Samudio.

They could be closer to getting what they desire. The 80 hourly employees at the bookstore voted to unionize with an organization called OPEIU Local 277, which is based in Dallas- Fort Worth.

“This means for the first time, we will be able to negotiate for better pay, better wages and better benefits through representatives from the bookstore,” said Samudio.

“I’ve already heard from other folks who have been watching the Book People campaign asking well, ‘if it can happen at Book People why can’t it happen at my coffee shop?’ Why can’t it happen at my store?’” said Austin City Council member Greg Casar.

The decision is backed by the councilman, who believes the move is bigger than just Book People.

“The majority of working people, if you ask them if they want to be part of a union, they would generally tell you yes. We see so few people organized in unions in Texas because Texas government and some employers actively undermine people's ability to join a union,” said Casar.

Casar says he hears from his constituents, particularly retails workers. “They see so much more business continue to come in but they don't see that necessarily reflecting in their paychecks."

Fox 7 reached out to the Book People CEO for comment and we've not heard back.  

Samudio said this is not a quarrel involving disgruntled employees, but a method to make the store experience better for customers and employees. “They love that store they love working there, they want to make it an even more special place,” he said.

Contract negotiations will now begin, which could take several months.