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Bargaining Update from Session #10, Tentative Agreements Reached to Date, and Remaining Open Issues

To: All Copperfield's Books Petaluma Staff, Concerned Citizens, and Valued Customers of Copperfield's Books Petaluma 
From: Copperfield's Books Petaluma Management 
Date: December 5, 2023 
Subject: Bargaining Update from Session #10, Tentative Agreements Reached to Date, and Remaining Open Issues 

On Friday April 28, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") conducted a secret ballot election among Copperfield's Books Petaluma non-management and non-supervisory employees in which a majority voted to recognize the Industrial Workers of the World ("IWW") as their exclusive representative for purposes of collective bargaining. On May 11, 2023, the NLRB certified the election results in favor of IWW. Formal labor negotiations began on June 29, 2023, after the parties' initial "meet and greet" on June 15th. Several sessions have taken place since and the following lays out our progress to date. 

The parties held their 10th and most recent session of collective bargaining on November 30, 2023. The next session is scheduled for November 30th.1 In the most recent bargaining sessions, the parties exchanged proposals on the following negotiation topics: Hours of Work and Overtime; Mediation and Fact Finding; customary contract terms on Savings, No Derogations, and Integration; Duration of the new contract; the Interplay of Employee Handbook, Employer Policies, the Parties' [eventual] Collective Bargaining Agreement, and Benefit Plan Documents; Discipline and Discharge; the parties' Grievance Procedure; Layoffs; Seniority and Probation; Holidays; Shop Steward Rights; Leaves; and Holidays. Some of the foregoing draft contract articles are under consideration as tentative agreements ("TAs"). The parties will continue to exchange economic proposals and related counter proposals and reach TAs accordingly. 

In prior bargaining sessions, the parties reached TAs on the following topics: 

  • The new labor contract's Preamble - TA 7/11/23; 
  • The Recognition clause - TA 7/11/23; 
  • Changes to the Status Quo - TA 7/11/23; 
  • Union Security and Membership - TA 7/11/23; 
  • Information Requests and Personnel Files - TA 7/11/23; 
  • Dignity and Respect - TA 7/11/23; 
  • Management Rights - TA 8/10/23; 
  • Freedom from Harassment and Discrimination - TA 9/14/23; 
  • Workplace Safety - TA 9/14/23; Workplace Violence is Prohibited - TA 9/14/23; 
  • Certain Other General Provisions for the new labor contract - TA 9/14/23; 
  • Promulgation of Work Rules - TA 9/14/23; 
  • Job Postings and Petaluma Bargaining Unit Hiring - TA 9/14/23; and 
  • The parties' collective bargaining Ground Rules - also signed on 9/14/2023. 

As a result of the November 16, 2023, bargaining session (#9), the parties’ reached further tentative agreements on: 

  • Shop Steward Rights – TA 11/29/23; 
  • Discipline and Discharge – TA 11/29/23; 
  • Grievance Procedure – TA 11/29/23; and 
  • Non-arbitral Respect Grievances – TA 11/29/23. 

These TAs were approved by Copperfield’s Books Petaluma on November 29, 2023. Altogether the parties have reached 17 tentative agreements including their bargaining ground rules. 

The tone of the process to date has been very positive notwithstanding some social media posts that the Management team considers controversial and exaggerated. We believe we are making steady good faith progress toward our first collective bargaining agreement at the Petaluma store. 

If you are in the bargaining unit and otherwise not a part of Copperfield's Books Petaluma Management, you may direct your questions and comments to Robert Glover robertglover707@gmail.com or Ellen Skagerberg (Ellen@Skagerberg.com) or IWW’s, Owen Hill (dinocentro2@gmail.com), or Noah Ross (noah.d.ross@gmail.com. Otherwise, you may also contact the Copperfield's Books Petaluma Management bargaining committee through Aubury Doherty at adoherty@copperbook.com. 

Thanks again for your interest in this process and for your ongoing support of Copperfield’s Books Petaluma! 

Cc: IWW and Management Bargaining Committees 


1 Our formal sessions have been held on the following dates: Session #1 – 6/29/23; Session #2 – 7/6/23; Session #3 – 7/11/23; Session #4 – 7/27/23; Session #5 – 8/10/23; Session #6 – 9/14/23; Session #7 -- 10/12/23; Session #8 10/26/23; Session #9 -- 11/17/23; and Session #10 -- 11/30/23. The next session (#11) is set for January 4, 2024.  

2 Because we are in active labor negotiations, our management team may not be able to answer all of your questions due to Labor Board rules, regulations, and case law that generally prevent us from negotiating away from the bargaining table; that is, we cannot negotiate with persons other than authorized members of IWW’s bargaining committee or otherwise bypass the IWW team.  

Yesterday's Union Vote at our Petaluma Store

On Friday, April 28, 2023, we had an election among our non-management Petaluma store employees conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Our Petaluma store employees have voted for representation by the Industrial Workers of the World, San Francisco Bay Area Branch. We are glad this process is over and can now try and heal the rifts that were created, that have affected not only the employees, but our loyal customers as well.
 
We feel there has been a lot of misinformation posted on social media in regards to the business practices of Copperfield's Books. We have also had employees, supportive of the union efforts, leaving stickers in employee areas of the store which say “Your Boss Is Not your Friend,” and “One Union, One Enemy.” These actions have been such a point of sadness for our company, since we are a company that really appreciates teamwork, and this has certainly deeply hurt our team.
 
So, where do we go from here? Our hope is that now we can move past this and begin negotiation in good faith and have an opportunity to tell our side of our collective story.
 
Regardless of the outcome of this election our efforts will continue to support, encourage, and enhance the experience of all of our employees throughout the company. Today’s result only serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done for the betterment of all.
 
 
 
Paul Jaffe, President
 
Copperfield's Books Inc.
 

Proposed Union in Petaluma Update

About Us
Copperfield’s has been a family-run business for 42 years. We employ approximately 120 employees in our nine stores in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, which also includes a warehouse and our Headquarters. We have been “Creating Community together since 1981,” and we always try to live up to that expectation of community. We participate in local events, provide items for non-profit groups, create programs for school children, and host events at our stores and off-site. We are a true partner to the towns we call home.
 
About Our Employees
Copperfield’s in no way feels our employees are expendable or replaceable; in fact, we all feel very close with our teams. While we understand that not every employee will choose to stay long term, while they are with us as employees, we do our best to provide training and support -- things that will assist them wherever they choose to go and whatever they choose to do. We’ve had employees come back after they finish with college or after employment with other employers. Why? Because we believe that they have enjoyed their time working with us and want to continue with our team.
We also strive to support our Booksellers with any kind of workplace issue. We respond promptly and work hard to tailor the results of our effort to address concerns that are addressed to management. We are dedicated to support a healthy, comfortable, and fun working environment.
 
The Current Situation
We currently have a union organizing effort in our Petaluma store where a vote is being held on Friday.
For this reason, we wanted to provide some information to you. Why? Because a variety of perspectives are floating around on the internet and in print, some of which we consider to be inaccurate or incomplete.
Below we address some of the areas where we received questions and have statements about our company. We hope this provides some context for how we, as store management and ownership, feel about things.
While we respect our Petaluma employees' right to unionize, we strongly believe that the company will be just as good a place to work without the need for a union. We believe that management has continuously demonstrated care for our employees, and we think creating a division between Management and Booksellers may be detrimental to our team.
Ultimately it will be up to our employees to make this decision, and we respect their views and the democratic election process. If they do vote to unionize, we will negotiate in good faith.

Book Industry and Progress Over 30 Years
In the book industry we have some of the lowest margins of any industry, which is what we call "a closed margin system," meaning that the publisher sets both the discount price and the list price. So, as expenses have gone up, we haven’t been able to change our prices very much to help cover those expenses. This has been our situation for more than 30 years and it continues to this day. Copperfield’s has attempted to offset some of these financial challenges by diversifying our product mix to include gifts that aren’t controlled by publishers' pricing, but books remain our primary focus as a bookstore.
 
Recent Challenges
One of the other recent challenges that we’ve faced as a company is trying to adjust to rapidly increasing California minimum wages in all of our communities. Petaluma specifically had a $7.00 per hour increase for minimum wage in the last five years, bringing the minimum wage rate to $17.06 per hour, which represents one of the highest in the region.
Rent is another area that has been challenging for us in all of our stores. For example, the Petaluma store has had more than a 14% rent increase.
We are proud to have successfully navigated these challenges to remain in business where bigger stores have closed.

What Have We Done Lately
Over the years since Covid-19 began, we have given three different rounds of payments to our staff of up to $500.00 to help those who stayed with us in such difficult times. We also have been working on improving our benefits; for example, in 2022 we increased our dental benefits by 50% and we added a vision plan for the first time.
 
About Our Hiring
Some of our staff left voluntarily during Covid, but we re-hired every employee who wanted to come back. Like many small businesses, Copperfield's Books' sales were deeply affected by the pandemic. So as business slowly returned, we were gradually able to hire more new staff to match the flow of business. And we did work to accommodate the delayed return of previous employees based on their circumstances. Since 2020, we’ve hired eighteen new employees who are still in active status at our Petaluma store.
 
More Information
We have tried to respond to the many requests for comment from the press and others. Our goal here is to responsibly respond to all news outlets and others who want information from us about this developing story.
We will be posting updates as our situation develops!

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