‘Delighted and very hopeful’: Moe’s Books workers ratify union contract

Nora Povejsil/Staff
After nine months of bargaining, workers of Moe's Books secured a unionized contract that included pay increase and respecting workers' pronouns, among other things.

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Moe’s Books workers voted to ratify its first union contract Tuesday, securing wage raises and additional COVID-19 safety measures, in what union steward Owen Hill described as a “good, solid contract.”

The agreement comes nine months after workers, citing job security and disputes with management over COVID-19 protocols, unionized with the Industrial Workers of the World and received voluntary recognition by owner Doris Moskowitz in March.

The contract provides an annual 3% cost of living increase, along with dental insurance, a “hefty” grievance procedure, de-escalation training and a requirement to respect workers’ pronouns, according to a statement posted on the Moe’s Books Union Instagram page.

“Moe’s is a legacy store that’s much loved,” Hill said. “We’re all committed to it and have very strong ideas, so there was a lot of disagreement. But slowly, we got closer to agreement over the 16 (bargaining) sessions.”

Part of the contract, Hill said, includes hiring a separate employee to check whether customers are following the store’s COVID protocols, including sanitizing their hands and properly wearing masks, before they can enter.

Moe’s worker Kalie McGuirl told The Daily Californian in April the stress of having to constantly monitor customers to ensure her own safety was amplified by a fear of retaliation for enforcing the store’s safety protocols.

McGuirl also alleged Moskowitz removed her from the Sunday shift after a customer wrote a negative review when she asked him to pull his mask over his nose.

While Hill said improvements to workplace conditions at the store remain to be seen, he is “delighted and very hopeful” and is thankful to the Industrial Workers of the World for their guidance throughout the “arduous” process of securing the contract.

“We all, I think, today, are resting a little easier,” Hill said. “As our union (representative) said, we built the car. Now we have to see how it runs.”

As of press time, Moskowitz did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Iris Kwok at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @iriskkwok.