After employees at a New York bookstore voted to unionize last week, the store owner immediately fired two employees for their participation in the union. The retail, wholesale and department store union the employees joined has filed an unfair labor practice charge and is demanding the employees be reinstated.
Firing an employee for taking part in a union is illegal, but the owner of Book Culture, Chris Doeblin, claims that the employees were actually managers, meaning they wouldn’t be allowed to be part of the union. However the fired employees, Bec Goodbourn and Kerry Henderson, insist that their positions weren’t true manager positions and that they had no real authority. “I have the title of manager but don’t have the same responsibilities as others. I have no power to hire or fire anyone” Henderson said.
Union lawyers likewise claim that Doeblin only gave the women the titles to avoid legal obligations. Doeblin has made his opposition to unionization clear, claiming that “as a business owner it’s inherent in the nature of things that a Union is a net problem for a business.” He continues to defended the firings, even attempting to discuss the situation with striking employees outside the store who are demanding Goodbourn and Henderson be rehired.
Henderson, who said she loved working for the bookstore, ironically supported the union because she desired more job security. “Your team is a bit more committed if everyone knows their job is secure,” a sentiment Mr Doeblin may want to consider.