Book store, union reach agreement
PORTLAND (AP) -- Negotiators have reached a tentative agreement with
Powell's Books Inc. on a three-year contract that would give the nation's largest
independent bookseller the first union contract in its 30-year history.
"I think we got everything we were looking for," said Mary Winzig, a union activist and employee at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland. "It's a great first contract."
Ann Smith, corporate manager of Powell's, said the contract should allow
management and workers to leave personal differences behind and focus again on the business of selling books.
"Yes, there's relationship mending to do," Smith said. "But I look forward to
moving on to the next chapter. It's a good contract; it gives us a good foundation
to build on."
Michael Powell, who bought the bookstore in 1982 from his father, company founder Walter Powell, had distanced himself from the negotiating sessions. He was out of town when the agreement was reached Tuesday.
The proposed contract would increase wages 6 percent per year -- with 3 percent linked to job performance and a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment. Negotiators had sought $10.36 an hour, nearly a $2 increase from a median wage of $8.40, but management insisted on an average wage of $9.88 an hour.
The proposal would maintain current health insurance benefits and improves coverage for preventive care and eye exams. But premiums could increase after the first year if insurance costs rise.
The contract also makes the previously voluntary 401(k) plan mandatory but would end a profit-sharing plan.
The 420 warehouse and bookstore workers who make up the local International Longshore and Warehouse union will vote on the contract Aug. 9 and 10.
Signing is set for Aug. 14, when the contract would take effect.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Powell's URL is http://www.powells.com