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Book closes on strike

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Striking union employees at Borders’ flagship book store in Ann Arbor began returning to work Friday after negotiators reached a tentative agreement earlier in the week. The walkout, and calls for a nationwide boycott that followed, began Nov. 8 after nine months of unsuccessful negotiations (Metro Times, “Borders skirmish,” Nov. 19-25, 2003). The details of the agreement will not be released until the contract is ratified by union members, which is expected to occur this week.

Hal Brannan, a member of the union bargaining committee who has worked at Borders for 18 years, says the presence of federal and state mediators in the last two negotiation sessions contributed to their success.

The most immediate, tangible benefits of the tentative agreement, says Brannan, are the eradication of “at will” employment status and an improved dispute resolution process for employees. Brannan thinks the agreement will also affect upcoming contract negotiations at the Minneapolis Borders, currently the only other unionized Borders store.

Asked about the implications of the proposed contract, Borders spokesperson Anne Roman said, “I don’t foresee an impact.” Roman says an internal employee survey reported overall job satisfaction, but the senior vice president of human resources would not release the survey to Metro Times, saying it was “proprietary information.”

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