Politics and Prose is now DC’s 1st unionized bookstore

“We are proud to join the growing movement of booksellers and baristas across the country who have unionized their workplaces,” the union organizing committee said in a statement. (Courtesy UFCW Local 400)

Employees at D.C.’s Politics and Prose bookstore are now officially unionized under a collective bargaining agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which represents about half of the bookstore’s employees at its three locations.

The agreement on the scope of a bargaining unit comes less than a month after employees signed union authorization cards and sought the owners’ acknowledgment of their union.

After initially rejecting the cards in leu of an official employee election, owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine voluntarily recognized the union on Friday.

“As stewards of a local, independent business with a 37-year legacy of progressive management and mission, we’ve valued collaborating with employees to solve problems and address needs, and we look forward to working with the union in the same spirit,” they said in a joint statement.

With the collective bargaining agreement in place, the union and the bookstores’ owners will next negotiate a contract for covered employees.

“We are proud to join the growing movement of booksellers and baristas across the country who have unionized their workplaces,” the union organizing committee said in a statement. “Forming our union has not only served as an affirmation of our shared values within the Politics and Prose community, it will also strengthen our workplace and ensure the long-term success of our beloved community hub.”

UFCW Local 400 represents about 35,000 employees at grocery and retail stores, health care and other industries in the D.C. region, as well as in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Politics and Prose location at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW opened in 1984. It has other bookstore locations at Union Market and The Wharf, and its stores have a following for regular author events and book signings.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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