Dear Bookshop Community,
Yesterday, a portion of Bookshop employees announced their intention to form a union at Bookshop Santa Cruz. Of course, Bookshop Santa Cruz will abide by any vote of our workers in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board for a unit determined appropriate by the NLRB. Bookshop Santa Cruz considers it important that eligible employees are allowed to freely exercise their right to make that decision by voting in an election conducted by the NLRB. As a store with a 54 year legacy of progressive management, mission and values, Bookshop will continue to be committed to sustainable business that values our employees and the community we serve.
Over the past year, we have faced an unprecedented economic, political, and health crisis that struck at the core of our business. This period served to create uncertainty and vulnerability for all of us as we navigated this scary time. Besides the very real health fears, uncertainty was created from losing over $1 million in sales, including being down 15-50% in revenue every month since the pandemic began. Through it all, we have committed ourselves to protecting the safety of our employees and our customers first and foremost while still working to employ our booksellers. We also strove to listen to our employee’s needs during this time and changed policies and procedures after getting feedback, to the betterment of everyone at Bookshop.
We are proud that through the entire pandemic period we never laid off an employee, we did not reduce hours or wages, we increased benefits and provided hazard pay when we obtained Federal PPP funding. We also are proud that we not only met CDC and County Health Guidelines in terms of safety protocols but exceeded them. A few examples include paying full wages for any staff (full or part time) who has any one symptom regardless of exposure so that they could stay home, notification all staff of potential exposure prior to a positive COVID test and voluntarily reducing capacity to below retail guidelines before the stay at home order was put in place in Santa Cruz County. In addition, Bookshop Manager Casey Coonerty Protti has not taken a salary during the entire pandemic period, with the exception of the 8 weeks we had Federal PPP funding, in order to preserve bookseller jobs during this time. Casey also worked shoulder to shoulder with staff on the sales floor during shutdown and continuing into the summer, fall and winter.
Bookshop's booksellers are the heart of the store—working tirelessly to share their passion for books and serve the community. This is particularly hard to do in such an expensive place to live. For the last 10 years, Bookshop made a commitment of putting our profits back into payroll and benefits for our staff which resulted in doubling our entry level wage during that time and ensuring our minimum wage was always well above state guidelines. Bookshop will continue to commit to this staff-first value as we know our staff deserve it and our community expects this in return for the patronage they give us.
We are the first to admit that there are challenges to creating a great workplace, especially as an independent bookstore working on the slimmest of margins and in the midst of crisis. We are constantly working with staff to identify structural deficiencies in the organization that are in need of attention and improvement. As we always have and even before this organizing effort, we listen to the needs and struggles of our employees and their ideas to improve their workplace and we encourage you to listen to their message as well. Bookshop is committed to always trying to improve, running the best independent bookstore we can for our community and for our hardworking staff. That includes finding a sustainable business model, supporting our employees, and meeting the needs of our customers.
Thank you for your patronage.