Book Soup bookstore in West Hollywood at 8818 Sunset Boulevard, is newly unionized. The Los Angeles Times reports that Vroman’s, which owns the bookstore, voluntarily recognized its employees’ union last month, making it a big victory for the dozen or so booksellers who will be represented.
Instagram account @booksoupunion went public on their intent to unionize and calling on @vromansbookstore to voluntarily recognize them in May. “We are well aware of the struggles that independent bookstores currently face. Under staffing and under paying workers is not the solution! Even though we have filed for an election we remain hopeful that Vroman’s will voluntarily recognize us.”
A post on June 2, made the union official. “A huge thank you to all of our employees for making a stand, to @cwaunion for making it happen, to all of YOU for supporting us, and to @vromansbookstore for voluntarily recognizing us. We are so excited for this next chapter and will keep posting as we enter the bargaining phase! #vromansbookstore #booksoup #booksoupunion #cwa#union #bookstoreunion.”
The list of employees’ demands were included in a statement:
“The workers of Book Soup have expressed our intent to unionize. We seek fair wages, adequate staffing, disability access, and democratic decision making in the workplace, centered around regularly scheduled meetings during reasonable work hours. This union reflects the commitment of our work group to the well being of ourselves and each other; it also reflects our commitment to the current and ongoing project of Book Soup, a legendary artifact of literary and Los Angeles history which can best serve our community when allowed to thrive. We see our partnership with CWA as a positive step forward in addressing some important issues and helping us be the best Book Soup we can be.”
THE TIMES reports that Book Soup had a roster of about 25 on-call staff, part-time and full-time, to help run the store, with at least six people scheduled to work each day.
Then the pandemic hit in 2020 and many Book Soup employees were laid off or furloughed, and most were not rehired or replaced when the store reopened at full capacity. Those six daily workers were whittled down to three or four, increasing the workload per shift.
Julia Cowlishaw, CEO of Vroman’s and Book Soup, said staffing was modified to comply with safety regulations and occupancy limits.
Book Soup has been serving readers, writers, artists, rock & rollers, and celebrities since it was founded by Glenn Goldman in 1975!
To read the full LA TIMES report click below: