Shoppers without Borders

What is the point of a strike if you're only going to strike at one store in a chain? I understand that the downtown Ann Arbor Borders store is the original and the largest in the world and therefore a good target for picketing, but it really confuses me that it's life as usual at the much better, convenient-to-parking store across town. Is it okay to shop there, then? Is it the downtown Borders or the corporation itself that's trying to screw over its workers? Why aren't they complaining on Washtenaw?

I bet the downtownies have to pay for parking while they work. Damned Ann Arbor parking prices. I would picket too.

srah - Monday, 1 December 2003 - 2:14 PM
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Comments (19)

gravatar Murph - December 1, 2003 - 2:47 PM -

Well, the union is only at the downtown loc. right now (and the Minneapolis location, but that's a different story), so the strikers are focusing their energies there. There *are* complaints with the entire chain, as the corporatin has a history of union-busting, and so the boycott has been called for all Borders, all Waldenbooks, and Amazon.com, but the in-person presence is only at the single store, as far as I know.

I think it's a recognition that the strikers have a limited amount of energy, and it's better to put up a big show at the prime target than to try to put up a half-assed protest at every location.

gravatar richard - December 1, 2003 - 3:12 PM -

I just want to say that I like the blog title on this one.

gravatar Mr B------ - December 1, 2003 - 3:19 PM -

Further, that location is Store #1 in the Borders chain, and unlike the other store, has a prominent location in the downtown of a city progressive enough to have living wage legislation. They probably feel like it would be most meaningful to change the policies at that store, and that they are most likely to get a victory there, where college students are a large component of the customer base.

Hehe... I'm starting to sound like the Urstodian. I think after the past year, I've started to more keenly feel the need for the service industry to unionize and dignify itself.

gravatar Urs - December 1, 2003 - 6:13 PM -

A. I would avoid shopping at Borders altogether, same with Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, the Gap, and a whole bunch of other stores that I can't mention because I actually shop there.

B. Why have I become the Urstodian? Should I be insulted? Or flattered?

gravatar Urs - December 1, 2003 - 6:29 PM -

Also, strikes are difficult for the strikers, and seeing as people at places like Borders are living paycheck to paycheck with a great deal of time between paychecks, it is far more difficult for them to strike than it is for many other unionized occupations. Not working for two weeks for someone that works at Borders, hell not working for TWO DAYS can be the difference between having a place to live and begging on the street (read Nickled and Dimed, I have it for those that know me and want to borrow it)

But then again, it was like that for all organized labor in the begining. But thats another point, this is the begining of a new wave of unionization (unions of people working at GIANT retailers) and they are doing all they can in a very union-hostile nation

gravatar Mr B------ - December 1, 2003 - 7:06 PM -

God, this nation hates the unions, with an ire that won't diminish. It always has, because that's what the Man wants us to do. But you can't resist the proles forever... it'll just be a sucking time for our generation, though, as we live through the unionization of service jobs (fortunately, the only jobs that can't be exported).

gravatar eston - December 1, 2003 - 8:15 PM -

It's funny, really. If you ask a striker what the problem is, they will rant on about it for 15 minutes. If you go inside and ask a Borders employee what their opinion is, they say they can't tell you under a company-wide regulation.

I honestly have no sympathy for the strikers. I have had jobs that sucked. You know what I did? I quit, and got a job someplace else. The whining at one store isn't doing crap to Borders, a nationwide company. I say they need to quit complaining and go get another job elsewhere, because Borders really doesn't seem to care.

gravatar Laura - December 1, 2003 - 8:56 PM -

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, when you apply to work for a service job--jobs at Borders used to be highly skilled, with a serious literature entrance exam, but aren't, really, now--you know up front what you're getting into salarywise. On the other hand, it is true that the ratio of executive to prole salaries overall in companies in general has increased something like 50:1 in the 50s to 900:1 (don't quote me--approximate) these days which is unwarranted if not obscene. They could share the wealth a bit more with the workers, IMHO. Unfortunately, with the labor market in A2 flooded with students willing to work for a low wage the strikers don't have much chance of winning.

gravatar Urs - December 1, 2003 - 9:24 PM -

Um, the fact is that there AREN'T a lot of other jobs out there AND that companies need to provide a living wage. $7/hour is NOT a living wage and a lot of people simply do NOT have the means to pick themselves up and move. I refer, once again, to Nickled and Dimed - it SHOULD be The Jungle, except our politicians no longer care. Progressives have been outsmarted - the powers that be have found ways to undermine those messages and are desperately trying to not only undo the 1960's, but the NEW DEAL as well. And middle class America (possible ONLY via things like the New Deal, Unions and gov't regulations of businesses) is all too happy to support them. There are no words to describe how insidious that is.

gravatar srah - December 1, 2003 - 10:34 PM -

You guys are hella lame. Here I want to whine about parking in downtown Ann Arbor and you have to bring all kinds of serious discussion into it. :p

gravatar Mr. B--------- - December 1, 2003 - 10:56 PM -

Even if you're one of those people that don't care about the welfare of the one in four Americans earning a wage below the poverty line, it's still got to be bothersome that Borders would tell outright lies to the public. "We care about our employees," indeed. If they'd just come right out and say that they were offering just another McJob, then I don't think it'd be so upsetting.

gravatar Justin - December 1, 2003 - 11:07 PM -

Um, we don't have Borders here. I just shop at Barnes & Noble (well, actually, I just read there, but very rarely actually BUY the books anywhere except Amazon).

By the way, srah, parking prices suck don't they?

gravatar srah - December 1, 2003 - 11:08 PM -

*kisses Justin passionately*

gravatar Urs - December 1, 2003 - 11:36 PM -

They suck much more when you can't get a living wage. The cost of living in this country has risen steadily for the past two decades while minimum wage has remained relativly stagnant. That is really not a good thing. Yeah

gravatar Mike - December 2, 2003 - 7:49 AM -

The discussion continues. Here's what I think:
1) I read Nicked and Dimed too. Good book. Interesting.
2) Not all the Border's employee's are fanatics. I stopped and talked to some pretty cool ones.
3) They plan to go protest at other stores
4) Numbered lists are cool.
5) Mr. B------- is cool because he used the word McJob...it's working its way into the mainstream
6) I still think it's a lot of hullaballoo over one issue...but of course I'm not a Borders worker so what do I know?

gravatar katie - December 2, 2003 - 4:54 PM -

My question is, what kind of a name is "Washtenaw"???

gravatar Laura - December 2, 2003 - 9:08 PM -

Washtenaw comes from the Chippewa words "washte" and "nong" meaning "the land beyond." OK, back to Borders!

gravatar smg - December 4, 2003 - 10:53 AM -

is it really the biggest borders in the world? i don't think it is. maybe in terms of stock, but not in terms of size. we've got a hella bigo ne here in philly. on a side note, back before borders was on every corner my parents and i would take a trip a few times a year to ann arbor specifially to go to the borders. i miss those days. it was fun and special. now i just go to borders cause they're the only ones in town that carry my magazine.

gravatar Cheryl - December 5, 2003 - 3:33 PM -

From what I got out of the article, it's cause of the cost of living in AA. The other Border's may almost be in Ypsi or Pittsfield Twnshp. Maybe someone has said that. I didn't read what others had to say. Too much.

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