Miriam's Borders Update
In Philadelphia, Borders management continues to try to stifle the "Are You Furious?" campaign. After an embarrassing month for Borders in which Michael Moore's appearance turned into a pro-union rally and Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski canceled her s cheduled visit when IWW member and former Borders lead clerk Shannon Matthews alerted her to Borders' union-busting practices, the company is doing what it can to fight back.
The company's latest gambit was to appeal my unemployment benefits, which I had received for three weeks in the amount of $11 weekly before finding temporary employment elsewhere. Apparently, they felt that stripping me of my right to the $399 I'd received was important enough to merit hiring Jackson Lewis, a notorious union-busting law firm, to fight my claim. Thomas Carney, the Borders VP and General Counsel who threatened the IWW with a lawsuit, flew in from Michigan to attend the hearing. I'm sorry to report that the ruling from this go-around was not in my favor. Obviously, I think the original decision which granted me benefits was the correct one, and that I hope that the results of appeal I filed on October 11 will reflect that. It's been pointed out that the fee the Jackson Lewis lawyer charged per hour to browbeat me is probably in the vicinity of three times the amount of benefits I collected total.
Captive meetings continue throughout the chain, as Borders pours more money into its anti-union efforts. But the latest proof that Borders is wasting its anti-union dollars came from Borders Books & Music in Chicago, where the workers declared victory in an October 2 NLRB election with the UFCW. Despite such transparent management ploys as the replacement of the unpopular General Manager one week before the election and the unveiling of a new stock options plan, the union won by a hefty margin -- 28-17 -- which bodes well for worker solidarity as they fight for a good contract.
In Philadelphia, we are picketing at Borders every Saturday. Community support continues to rise. I was a speaker at the most recent AFSCME D.C. 47 quarterly delegate assembly meeting and am scheduled to speak to a labor law class at Drexel University in late October. Fellow Wobbly Alexis Buss and I were featured on radio programs in Texas and California. On the legal side, the NLRB continues to investigate my complaint. While I wholeheartedly continue to support UFCW drives at any Borders store in which that union is the workers' choice, I have decided to pursue my own case without UFCW representation in future.
As the Borders boycott rolls into its fifth month, I want to thank all my fellow Wobblies for their staunch support. Your unstinting efforts have been an eye-opener for Borders customers throughout the country who are now holding this supposedly "progressive" company accountable for the way they treat their workers. This is a good fight, and thanks to IWW solidarity, we will win.