Petaluma staff at Copperfield’s Books votes to unionize

“Needless to say, we are ecstatic about the outcome of this election,” a post on the union’s Instagram said. “We’re all so proud of the effort and hard work we’ve put in, but there’s still much to be done.”|

The staff at Cooperfield’s Books in Petaluma voted Friday afternoon to unionize in a nearly unanimous vote.

“Needless to say, we are ecstatic about the outcome of this election,” a post on the union’s Instagram said. “We’re all so proud of the effort and hard work we’ve put in, but there’s still much to be done.”

Copperfield’s Books, a Sebastopol-based chain of bookstores with nine stores across Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, sells both new and used books with a book-buying program.

Robert Glover, full-time book buyer and spokesperson for the Copperfield’s Books union, said there is no indication that the other locations will follow suit.

The number of employees that are part of the official union is still being contested by ownership, with the eligibility of three positions — two assistant managers and a lead used book buyer — still being determined. But all non-managerial book clerks, including Glover, will be part of the union.

He said eligibility will be determined when the union enters negotiations.

The vote tally consisted of 13 “yes” votes and 2 “no” votes. The unionized staff will next begin drafting a contract and setting up its first bargaining meeting with Copperfield’s Books.

“I’ve mentioned it before, we are doing this because we love our bookstore and we want to see it continue to thrive, but we’d like the staff members to thrive along with it,” Glover said. “And, as evidenced by the positive feedback from the community, they want that as well.”

Copperfield’s Books president and co-founder Paul Jaffe released a statement on the vote Saturday saying now that the voting process is over, the company can “try and heal the rifts that were created, that have affected not only the employees, but our loyal customers as well.”

“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,” Jaffe said in his statement.

“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.”

A statement on behalf of Copperfield’s Books was released last week prior to the vote and discussed challenges the bookstore chain has faced over the last few years, and what the company has done to ease these challenges.

The statement said that while expenses have gone up, the company hasn’t been able to change prices. Attempts to offset these cost increases have come from diversifying inventory to include gift items with prices not set by a publisher.

Another challenge addressed in the statement regarded the rapidly rising minimum wage in California, specifically in Petaluma, which has had a $7 per hour increase in the last five years.

“Over the years since COVID-19 began, we have given three different rounds of payments to our staff of up to $500 to help those who stayed with us in such difficult times,” the statement said.

“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.“

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5487 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat. com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

Sara Edwards

Business reporter

Small businesses are the bread and butter of Sonoma County. I cover a diverse group: Chambers of commerce and business groups, clothing shops, jewelry boutiques, hobby stores and more. Economic uncertainty is a high concern among Sonoma County consumers, and it’s my job to make sure shoppers know what’s happening in the local economy and how those trends and issues impact them.

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