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May 23, 2024 38 mins

Mia talks with Caleb, Theo, and Finn, three members of the new Seminary Coop Booksellers Union about how they turned a campus bookstore into the only unionized bookstore in Chicago.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media, Welcome to it could happen here a podcast
where my old bookstore from college is unionized, and I'm
very excited about it. I'm your host, Mio Wong, and
with me to talk about this this tremendous event are
Caleb Theo and Finn from the Seminary co Op Booksellers Union. Yeah,

(00:21):
welcome to the show.

Speaker 2 (00:24):
Thank you so much for having us.

Speaker 3 (00:25):
This is so excited.

Speaker 4 (00:26):
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (00:28):
Yeah, I'm excited to you both because I think somehow
in the mold that I got almost three years i've
been doing this show now, Jesus Christ, that is terrifying. Somehow,
I think this is the first bookstore union we've talked to,
which is remarkable. I don't I don't know how it's
taken this long, but I'm so excited that y'all get that.
Y'all the first.

Speaker 5 (00:48):
I mean, as far as we know, we're the first
in the city of Chicago.

Speaker 1 (00:52):
Hell yeah, we're.

Speaker 6 (00:53):
The only in the city. There are like past bookstores
that have since closed which we're unionized. But yeah, as
best we know, we're now we're currently the only union
bookstore in the city of Chicago. Proper.

Speaker 1 (01:08):
God, maybe there's one up in Evanston or something, but
seems unlikely. This is this is I don't know. I've
been I've been. I've been drilling. I've been drilling the
Evanston knowledge into my listeners' heads. Now, so now all
of you people in Rhode Island or whatever know about
my hatred of Evanston.

Speaker 6 (01:27):
An extremely fair grudge.

Speaker 1 (01:32):
Okay, so speaking of grudges, all right, sobody, co op
is it's it's it's an interesting bookstore in the sense
that like it's it's it is on the campus of
the University of Chicago, like it's just it's just sort
of there. And there's been a lot of things happening
on that campus in the past month or so. But yeah,

(01:54):
I guess what I wanted to I guess the place
I wanted to start was sort of Okay, so you
should call it is a campus that has a lot
of union organizing happening on it in a bunch of
across a bunch of different kind of they're mostly university unions,
but a lot different all of different kinds of workers
in the university have unions. How did that sort of
impact the way this campaign started?

Speaker 3 (02:17):
That's a really good question. I I feel like, there's
a few things I want to talk about. I think
there's the the fact that a lot of us booksellers
who come to the sem co op were coming from
many of us came from New Chicago or had been

(02:39):
there at some point and had been around that kind
of organizing. So I think that that definitely has an impact.
I also think that many of us know people because
so many of us are in the community. We all
know a lot of people who are organizers, a lot
of people in the grad student union, and howing them

(03:01):
to talk to and kind of like bounce ideas off
of and commiserate all of that has been really great.

Speaker 6 (03:13):
Yeah, And like I think it's been very emboldening to
know that we have that support, you know that because
we have friends and comrades and roommates in GSU, in
faculty unions, you know, the kind of the whole time,
we've known that, Like, if we ever need to draw
on that external support for any kind of you know,

(03:36):
public campaign that we have like a connection to like
a broader labor of movement in the area, that will
be there for us.

Speaker 1 (03:45):
This is something I guess you've already touched on a bit,
but I think This leads into another question that I had,
which was, Yeah, I wanted to talk about the sort
of the influence of campus and how how how the
dynamics of that kind of change, what these what these
campaigns look like.

Speaker 5 (04:02):
It's really interesting because our relationship to campus is a
little bit unclear to us in terms of the way
that the bookstore functions in relation to its university partners,
because we work with them very closely. There are a landlord,
among many other things, but we are not directly affiliated

(04:22):
with them, and we carry course books, but that's by
professor request and we can't always do it, and so
it's a really close, really opaque relationship.

Speaker 3 (04:38):
I think the university really likes to have a bookstore
that isn't like university affiliated on paper, but still very
much is a part of the culture of the university,
and so we see a lot of that kind of
inform things like our stock and the events that the

(05:00):
UH professors that we work with, and of course like
the students who come in and use the space and
are physically in the space every day doing work buying
their books.

Speaker 1 (05:12):
It's it's always weird kind of doing organizing in these
spaces because like I don't know you you're you're dealing
with this mixture. Well you Chicago especially is like this
where there's it's this really kind of weird and volatile
mixture of like a bunch of on the one hand,
like a bunch of very brave, very committed like people

(05:33):
who are doing organizing, a bunch of people who are
just completely checked out, and then a bunch of people
who are going to go lead cups in South America.
And I don't know, it's it's it's a that was
my experience back doing Actually, God, I was, I was
on the GS you pick it line, like, how God
that was? That was half a decade ago. Jesus Christ. Sorry,

(05:54):
this is this is turning into the Mia thinks about
our time that you which it shouldn't.

Speaker 5 (06:01):
Yeah, That's something that is notable too, is that, like
we have a lot of community support when it comes
to people who are theoretically in favor of unionizing and
theoretically in favor of labor power, and that extends all
the way through our management team, like they are very,

(06:23):
very in favor of the concept of labor rights. And
so it's really interesting trying to parse that dynamics sometimes
of like, Okay, these are people who are supposedly our
biggest supporters, but at the same time their actions do
not very well line up with those ideals.

Speaker 3 (06:42):
I think having a section at our store that is
devoted to critical theory and Marxism while not paying us
a living wage is a real funny situation.

Speaker 2 (06:55):
The irony stings real hard.

Speaker 1 (06:57):
Yeah, it's this real read the theory, act on it,
but read the theory.

Speaker 6 (07:03):
It's been real fun. Like we during like your course
book rush seasons, we have like sem co op trading
cards with pictures of like different authors. It's always really
fun handing out the ones that are like Carl Marx
sem co ops number one best selling author.

Speaker 5 (07:21):
And no, it's definitely not because every freshman at University
of Chicago has to buy him from us.

Speaker 1 (07:29):
Yeah, that's that's another that's like kind of unrelated, really
funny thing. But yeah, like all of the Chicago econ
dipshits at least nominally red marks. Did they open it
low odds? But yeah, I don't know that that seems
like a psychologically destabilizing contradiction that you're dealing with them

(07:50):
all the time.

Speaker 6 (07:52):
That same kind of like contradiction between like spirit and practice.
Just like it's also right there in our name where
we're the Seminary co Op bookstore, and like two thirds
of that is not true. We haven't been affiliated with
the seminary in decades. We were for a time a
member co op like RII, but we've never been a
worker's co op. We haven't even been a member co

(08:13):
op since twenty fourteen. We are a bookstore, so there's
like that.

Speaker 1 (08:18):
But the old one in three eight bad being simply
does not apply here. That is in fact very bad well.

Speaker 3 (08:26):
And I think that that is like a very big
part of how the larger community sees our stores as well,
and the like mismatch there because yeah, of course we're
like on the Chicago campus. We are very much connected
to the student body and the faculty there, but we're
also like in the middle of like our neighborhood where

(08:47):
there are plenty of other people who are not affiliated
with the college who are like coming in buying their books.
There's the fact that like our our second location down
the street, fifty seventh Street Books, which has like our
kids sects and like a bunch of other less academic
stuff like that's very heavily trafficked as well, and the

(09:10):
communities understanding of us as a like worker owned not
not for profit, which is a very confusing term because
it's not a nonprofit, it's a not for profit. That
that disconnect between what the community needs and wants in
its bookstores and what the management has decided our bookstores

(09:36):
mean to the community is it's felt. That's like a
very felt mismatch.

Speaker 1 (09:43):
Yeah, so I'm assuming that that that's sort of the
kinds of things that I mean, obviously the standard not
getting paid off, et cetera, et cetera, are those those
are sort of things that led into how the organizing started.

Speaker 5 (09:55):
Yeah, I think it's a lot the way that like
the mismatch is so parent to us, and it really
brought us together, Like we have such a unique sense
of solidarity as a working cohort. I feel like there's
a lot of commiseration because we walk a very weird
line throughout our community, and so I think it's a

(10:17):
little bit just trying to assess what's going on in
our stores and like how does that compare to what
management tells us on a regular basis, and shouldn't we
be doing something about that?

Speaker 6 (10:29):
Yeah?

Speaker 3 (10:29):
I think that. I know that our first like big
pre union meeting where we all got together in the
basement of one of our houses and commiserated, was like
after a pretty rough like all store meeting that we
had had in which we had continued to get really

(10:49):
no response regarding questions about a living wage or how
we choose stock for our store, how communication between management
and hourly booksellers was just so lacking, and we just
got the same kind of messaging that was being given

(11:12):
to customers, which is we're working on it. You're all
of these things that you're saying are so valid, and
we'll address them at a later date.

Speaker 6 (11:26):
Yeah, we were getting this great response of like, you know,
we want to get you to not just a living wage,
but a professional wage, and we have a five year plan,
but we were halfway through that five year plan. The
five year plan started right before the pandemic and had
not been adjusted since, and there was no information on
how we were going to in the last half of

(11:49):
this five year plan, you know, suddenly increase wages to
whatever a professional wage is, let alone a living wage.
So that was just a very straighting, like completely empty answer.

Speaker 3 (12:03):
I think we were all very we were all hurt
and we got like the very first message in our
group chat, which was just like so we're we're gonna
we're gonna unionize, right, incredible, And that was like the
start of it. And that was like last I want
to say that was January of twenty twenty three was

(12:25):
when that started.

Speaker 6 (12:27):
Yeah, they'reabouts.

Speaker 1 (12:39):
Yeah, that's a that's I guess it's a pretty vast
campaign by the looks of it. It's yeah, about it
about it a bit over a year. Yeah, yeah, congratulations
to you all, by the way, thank you.

Speaker 3 (12:52):
Thanks.

Speaker 5 (12:54):
It's really thanks to the team that started in January though,
because they have been really really proactive about reaching out
to people when there are new booksellers. Because I have
kind of a weird tenure at the store. I've worked
there two separate times, but I wasn't part of the
January meeting. But when I rejoined the co op in August,
I think within the first week that I was there,

(13:16):
one of my kokers like came up to me while
I was at the register and like in the standard
getting to know you kind of speech, was.

Speaker 2 (13:22):
Like, and how do you feel about labor organizing? And
I was like very in favor. Why do you ask.

Speaker 1 (13:30):
Yeah that by the way, dear listenier. If you're at
a union, that is that is what is known as
good practice. It is in fact a thing that you
need to do whenever someone new joins your workplace and
you have a union, bring them in. And if you
don't do this, your unions will stagnate die. And there
are there there are like there are actually there are
unions out there who will get mad at you for
doing this because it takes resources or whatever, and don't

(13:51):
listen to them. Please stop. Simply do not do this.

Speaker 5 (13:55):
This is the only defense against turnover, which is huge.

Speaker 2 (14:00):
Stories that most need to unionize.

Speaker 3 (14:02):
Yep, yep, we have really crazy turnover. Like I think
that of the original people who started talking, I mean
and this was like there was a previous unionization effort
too before our time that we know very little about.
But of the original like January folks, very few of
us are left just because of the turnover rate, which

(14:24):
is immense, and we get like groups of like three
to four people hired at once every six months or so,
and it's like, Okay, how quickly can we scope folks out?
How quickly can we like do like a one on
one and talk to them about how they feel about
labor organizing. How can we get a sense of like

(14:46):
what their main concerns are with the job and what
they want from unionizing.

Speaker 4 (14:54):
Yeah.

Speaker 6 (14:55):
Well, and the turnover is also one of the things
that sparked this because we had a way of folks
who were fired asked to leave or quit on their
own terms. And we had another coworker who knew that
she was kind of reaching the end of when she
could you know, stay at the bookstore and was just

(15:18):
very committed to like getting some momentum going in her
last handful of months here and created, like you oside
the group chat and was just very quit, like all right, everyone,
we're in the group chat, like this message if you
agree with the following statement. And then it was like,
you know, the statements about like how much you care

(15:38):
about the job, and then statements about like how much
you agree that like a union would improve things, and
just about everybody agreed a union would be a huge improvement.
And that was I mean, that was also a really
incredible resource because like before someone just created the group chat,
we're in this really awkward phase of like three or

(15:58):
four different groups of people trying to get a ball
rolling and very like cautiously approaching folks. I had approached
one or two people and been like that same exact question,
like how do you feel about unions? And then there
was someone else who was going around asking the exact
same question. And you know, I was also at Redge

(16:20):
one day when she came up and asked asked me that,
and I was like, Jesus, do I not have enough
patches on my jacket? This is a question I need
to fix something.

Speaker 3 (16:31):
It was a lot of like ships passing until the
group chat got created, and then it was really quick
we had We started having like meetings. I want to
say we had one like every three weeks to a month.
In that first six months, we got together a letter

(16:54):
of demands that we all read and signed. It was
I think at the time of the how many were
working there. It was like all but one maybe wow
person signed it and we all went to deliver it
and read it to management and got a bunch of

(17:17):
stuff right away. This was like well before yeah, well
before we had like signed with an or decided who
we wanted to unize with, and we still just threw
that direct action got so much done.

Speaker 5 (17:31):
And I think that's part of the success that we've
had so far too, is we do just have kind
of a large number in our cohort of impatient people,
which means that like, once we figure out what we want,
we're just like, Okay, what's the fastest way we can
ask for this and get it recognized.

Speaker 6 (17:49):
That first march that we did, that first letter was
also just I mean, it really like fueled all of
the rest of this, I think because the stuff that
one was so I think so immediately felt for everyone
working there.

Speaker 1 (18:06):
There wasn't things, Uh what what kinds of things did
you win in that one?

Speaker 6 (18:10):
We one expanded health insurance. Previously very few people qualified
for health insurance. We got that pretty tremendously broadened. I mean,
that's I think how THEO and I ended up getting
health insurance. We got things like, you know, improved maternity leave,
improved bereavement leave. The definition of who you could take

(18:32):
berievement leave for was broadened. It was like previously a
grid of like nine types of relation, and then it
got just fully expanded to like include chosen family and
just whoever you know, you felt the need to claim
berievement leave for. As well as just how many days,
which was tremendous. I mean, it was like a week

(18:55):
after the change, you know, got actually implemented into our
our leave system, that I found out a relative was dying,
And because we had gotten that expansion, I didn't have
to choose between driving my grandmother to be by her bedside,

(19:16):
be by this other relative's bedside, or going to the funeral.
I was able to take time off for both of those, which,
you know, meant everything to me, meant everythingthing to my grandma.
And so, you know, when we talk when we're looking
at issues, when we're organizing, and we talk about things
that are widely felt, that are deeply felt, that are actionable,

(19:39):
and like those kinds of changes are very deeply felt.
And so there wasn't you know, there really hasn't been
a point since then when anyone could remotely make the
argument that organizing doesn't create positive, impactful change.

Speaker 5 (19:57):
Yeah. The handbook that I was onboarded with second time
that I came to the stores was significantly different than
the handbook that I was on boarded with the first time,
And it was because this list of demands had gone
out in the interim, because the policies about like just
our character as a store and the way that we

(20:18):
want to interact with our community were completely different, and
it was very much that like booksellers who interact with
the community on a daily basis, had had a say
in the meantime.

Speaker 1 (20:30):
Hell yeah, okay, So unfortunately we have to go to
an ad break. But we returned, well, I don't know,
go back to what we were doing before, question work.
I don't know, not not. My fight is to ad pivot.
But you know, look, if they if they, if they've
paid me more, they'd get more good AD pivots, but
they don't fear getting the media.

Speaker 6 (20:49):
Once you gotta work your wage.

Speaker 4 (20:51):
Yeah, and we're back. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (21:06):
So you know, the organizing students have come together pretty quickly.
I guess, do you want to talk about how you
ended up being an AWW shop?

Speaker 6 (21:17):
Yeah, I mean, I'm happy to talk on that a
little bit. You know, when we got to the point
where were deciding who we wanted to affiliate with, I
sent out feelers to just a bunch of different unions.
Two got back to me. A larger trade union that
I'm totally spacing on the name of, or commercial union,

(21:39):
the term for like the really big one, the really
big types of unions, and the IWW, and I had
meetings or phone calls with representatives from both of them.
The you and I put together kind of a graphic
sort of comparing like the pros and cons of two
very different options, right, like a big international union or

(22:04):
I mean IWW obviously international, it's right in there in
the name, but obviously a smaller, much more autonomous union.
And I wanted to go IWW. I did my absolute
best to not let that bias inform the pros and
cons lists and whatnot, and we, you know, we sat

(22:25):
around in this room here and just chatted it out,
talked about our preferences, what mattered to all of us,
and you know, what we decided was that, amongst other things,
one of like the really big sort of organizing principles
of this has been increasing our own agency and autonomy
in the workplace, and the IWW's model just felt like

(22:48):
it would give us the most control over our own campaign.
And so that's that's how we ended up voting to
I'm an IWW, you know, lead then campaign and now
finally shop branch.

Speaker 3 (23:06):
I think that the IWW really fit how our store
and our organizing had worked thus far too. It felt
like it matched the character of our organizing. It's definitely
much scrappier it, you know. The IWW having a history
in Chicago definitely was a factor in my personal desire

(23:28):
to be affiliated with them. I thought it was really
cool to be joining that like long tradition of IWW
shops in Chicago. I think that direct the emphasis on
direct employee action versus like contract bargaining fit very well
for us as well. I think, especially considering things like

(23:50):
the turnover and how we wanted to make sure that
you know, if we argue to contract, if we bargained
for a contract now, that it would be difficult to know,
you know, even a year or two down the line,
if those points and those things that we've bargained for
would be what folks would want then. And so getting

(24:14):
to use more direct action and response to make gains
in the workplace has been I think really helpful strategy
and one that the IWW facilitates really well with how
it trains organizing.

Speaker 1 (24:35):
Yeah, that all makes a lot of sense, and I
guess you know, the question from there is how did
management sort of react and what's been the kind of
what's what's what's what's been the kind of relationship vibe
since then.

Speaker 5 (24:50):
I mean management voluntarily recognized us immediately, but they also
had very clear notice ahead of time that we had
been organizing, Like we had been presenting them with demands
on a regular basis. We had been emailing them from
an anonymous account requesting that they closed the stores when
the cold was too intense for most of us to

(25:12):
safely get to work, Like they would be very very
deeply buried under the rocks if they didn't know that
we were like talking to each other. So I think
that they had a plan, and they also know the
character of our community, which is very theoretically leftist, and
so they knew that they really didn't have another option

(25:32):
because like we were at critical mass, and they would
look really bad in the eyes of everyone that they
respect if they said nothing.

Speaker 6 (25:43):
By the time that we announced to management that we'd unionized,
something like twenty one twenty two out of twenty three
hourly workers were members of the IWW.

Speaker 2 (25:59):
We showed up in T shirts. It was a lot.

Speaker 3 (26:02):
Yeah, when you walk in, when you walk in in
your IWW shirt to sit down at like an all
store meeting, and then the next person walks in and
they're also wearing that shirt, and then the next person
it's like, yeah, we've got the numbers. Something's about to happen.

Speaker 4 (26:19):
And they knew.

Speaker 3 (26:20):
They knew because we had heard them I think, like
not two days before being like, yeah, we think that
they're on the precipice of unionizing.

Speaker 5 (26:30):
If we were like, boy, you have no idea.

Speaker 3 (26:34):
Yeah, they took it as well as we expected them
to take it. As Finn said.

Speaker 6 (26:42):
We'd been in a you know, organized meeting the night
before and had been in our group chet you know,
that morning, preparing for all manner of different scenarios. If
they didn't take it well and then and then.

Speaker 1 (26:54):
They did, how have they been acting after, Because there's
there's definitely it can be a huge gap vaultry recognition
and then them actually doing anything.

Speaker 4 (27:05):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (27:06):
So the structure of management is real interesting at our store,
Like I said, we had we have twenty three currently
hourly booksellers, and then that to how many managers.

Speaker 2 (27:20):
Six at least eight eight.

Speaker 3 (27:25):
Yes, this is a fun quirk about our store. The
manager to bookseller ratio is insane. And then we've got
like our directors who are not counted in the manager number,
which is okay.

Speaker 5 (27:41):
So we've got five managers and three directors.

Speaker 3 (27:45):
Five managers and three directors for twenty three hourly employees.

Speaker 5 (27:51):
And I think that, yeah, yeah, and to use that
ratio in meetings, they.

Speaker 3 (27:57):
Talked about that a lot.

Speaker 4 (28:00):
Yeah, And I think that.

Speaker 3 (28:03):
No, no, no, we talk about it a lot like
as and I think that, well, it's interesting because in
these store meetings it is usually only the director that talks.
I don't think we've ever heard managers talk in an
all store meeting. So when the director voluntarily or recognizes

(28:24):
our union, we also have to really look at the
faces of every manager to see what they're actually feeling.
And I think a lot of managers are.

Speaker 2 (28:35):
Have.

Speaker 3 (28:36):
My suspicion is that a lot of managers share equal
frustration with a lot of the ways that the store
is managed, even above them, And I think, obviously they
can't say anything to us about how they feel about our.

Speaker 5 (28:57):
Union, but anecdote totally, they were so excited to take
our picture after we announced that we had utilized.

Speaker 4 (29:07):
That's really funny.

Speaker 3 (29:09):
We did get management to take our photo, which.

Speaker 5 (29:12):
We hadn't joked about in the group chat in the morning, Like, Lol,
wouldn't it be hilarious if we made the managers take
our picture and then they shor did.

Speaker 4 (29:20):
That's so funny.

Speaker 3 (29:21):
Yeah, On a day to day level, I think things
have been generally no more or less awkward than usual.
The vibe can be, yeah, bizarre on them.

Speaker 5 (29:34):
The vibe is also very highly colored right now by
a lot of other big changes that are happening at
the stores that have nothing to do with our union,
and so like, it's very difficult to sort of suss
out which weirdness is which, But definitely I think the
union weirdness is on the lesser end.

Speaker 2 (29:52):
Actually, yeah, I.

Speaker 6 (29:54):
Mean, I think the only real indication we have in
the last in this kind of just little stretch since
we announced is that we've been emailing with our director
for like to schedule a announcement from the store side,
and you know, we sent basically copy that we would

(30:18):
like them to use and listed out what venues we
would like it posted, and they've been just very accommodating
to all of that. We haven't been getting any pushback
like how the store how or when the store announces
to the you know, mailing list and the community social
media following and so on, so you know there's that.

Speaker 3 (30:40):
Yeah, it hasn't really been talked about that publicly yet,
it's about to be. I do know that when at
the at the event that I was running or working
at yesterday, the unionization, we we got congratulated on our
unionization and one of my managers was just that was
too my manager's face, and I think her reaction was like, oh,

(31:05):
so you know they're taking it. They'd being very polite
about it. I don't think they know that other people
know yet, but yeah, if they, if they when it happens,
I'm sure they're not going to be weird about it,
at least I hope not.

Speaker 5 (31:23):
I think the main thing management wants to do everything
in writing, and I think that's correct in some ways,
and like that's about to happen, But in terms of
how they will interact with us once it is fully
public and fully announced and fully in writing, I'm not sure.

Speaker 3 (31:43):
I also think that the reactions that we're getting now
are the ways that they interact with us now that
we have announced, versus the ways that they may interact
with us once we start really pushing for our demands.
That is that that could change pretty quickly, especially when
it comes to the living wage demand that is bury

(32:06):
at the forefront of what we're fighting for. That's also
been the one that has like the most tension behind
it when we've brought it up in the past. And
I think that once they realized that we're not just
unionizing for fun, things might change pretty quickly. And so

(32:27):
we're just going to have to be on We'll be
on our.

Speaker 5 (32:30):
Toes because a big reason that we unionized was because
we needed to have more weight behind that demand, because
that was one of the core demands that has been
made for the longest amount of time, with the least
amount of movement and the most empty promises, and so
we wanted to prove to them, hey, you have to

(32:51):
listen to us about this. And I think that they
might not have fully cottoned on to that yet.

Speaker 1 (32:59):
Yeah, And I guess I guess we'll just sort of
have to see how how they react to the sort
of hammer coming down on them now that day spent
all this time not actually doing anything. Yeah, I think
I think that's a pretty good place to wrap up.
Is there anyth unless there's anything else that you want
to make sure that gets mentioned Yeah.

Speaker 6 (33:17):
I mean, I think one thing I would like to
say towards the end here is that a big part
of what's been motivating us through all of this is
seeing the sort of rise of labor power nationally with
you know, the strikes in LA with like the writers,

(33:38):
the actors strikes, seeing you know, teacher strikes going on
with you know, the union stories that you all have
been covering on this podcast, with folks like Frida Egg
and I just yeah, I just want to say, like if,
if for other folks who are working in a small space,

(33:58):
in a in a retail space and thinking about unionizing,
I mean, it's hard work, but it's deeply rewarding work,
and if you put the time and dedication into it,
it is absolutely possible to organize your workplace, especially if
you're somewhere with twenty thirty co workers where you can

(34:19):
get everyone into a group chat, where you can get
everyone together in you know, someone's basement, someone's living room.
You know, we're really at an incredible moment in labor
as a movement, and just if you're thinking about organizing

(34:40):
your workplace, start talking to your coworkers, start talking to
your friends. It's doable. It's hard, but there's power in
a union and we can win.

Speaker 5 (34:54):
Hell yeah, I think there was something to be said too,
just for the like sheer morale boost that it comes
from organizing with your coworkers, because it makes everything better
even as like your material reality doesn't change immediately, your
outlook and ability to manage it, and to just feel
like someone is in the same boat as you unparalleled

(35:17):
really worth it.

Speaker 3 (35:18):
It feels yeah, it feels good. It feels good to
have something to be proud of, something that you've put
a lot of time into, like coming to Fruition and
seeing all of these people that you've worked together with
to help make like tangible gains for your community. It

(35:41):
feels like I think that when you have a job,
that is, when you're working a job that sometimes makes
it difficult to feel proud of yourself and what you're
doing on a day to day basis for whatever reason,
having organizing and having your coworker there to make something

(36:04):
really really good, not just for each other, but for
future workers and for workers at other stores who may
see our efforts and go I can do that too.
That makes you. That makes me proud, and it feels
really good to have something to be proud of.

Speaker 1 (36:24):
Yeah, getting getting to fight for your class is a
great feelings. It rules. Yeah, so I guess where where
can people find the union if they want to help
support stuff?

Speaker 5 (36:36):
Got it?

Speaker 2 (36:37):
Pull up our newly minted social media.

Speaker 4 (36:39):
That's nice.

Speaker 6 (36:40):
I had this ready to go earlier today and then
I forgot to keep it open.

Speaker 1 (36:46):
No worries, We'll put the links in the description.

Speaker 2 (36:49):
These are some fresh, fresh handles.

Speaker 6 (36:51):
Here we go. Yeah, so, folks can find us on
Instagram at sem co Op Booksellers Union, semco Pee Booksellers Union,
or on Twitter at sem co Op Union. Hopefully we will,
you know, start posting on soon and that's gonna be

(37:12):
the best way to sort of keep up with our store,
our situation from specifically the perspective of the laborers.

Speaker 3 (37:24):
Also, if you're in Chicago, come and say hi, Come
to our stores, Come talk to uh our like, come
talk to the workers. We have a lot to say.
We'd love to talk to you about it.

Speaker 1 (37:38):
Yeah, it's it's a great place and it's gotten significantly
better now that this now now that it's unionized, and
hopefully one day, I don't know, fuck it, don't all
I'll say this hope hopefully one day it is a
fucking actual co op.

Speaker 6 (37:52):
Hell yeah, that's the dream, that's all we want.

Speaker 1 (38:01):
Yeah, so thank you all for coming on and good
luck and yeah hope hope management folds like a fucking
wet paper towel.

Speaker 6 (38:09):
Hell yeah, thanks so much for having.

Speaker 3 (38:11):
Us you so much, this was amazing.

Speaker 1 (38:15):
Yeah, excited to have talked to you all, and yeah,
this is this been can happen here? You can do
this too, and yeah, well we'll have we'll have exciting
stuff coming tomorrow too.

Speaker 4 (38:27):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (38:27):
Go go organize your workplace and make your bosses viserable
and make your lives better.

Speaker 7 (38:38):
It could happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool zonemedia dot com, check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can
find sources for It could Happen here, updated monthly at
cool zonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening

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