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To: Emily Powell, Owner of Powell's Books

A Message From the Community to Emily Powell

We ask that you immediately halt all external hiring and begin recalling your laid-off workers in order of seniority.

Why is this important?

Dear Emily Powell,

You have addressed us, the Powell’s community, several times over the past year to offer insight into Powell’s health and challenges during the pandemic. We’ve appreciated those updates and your candor, as well as the acknowledgement that we, the community, play a role in the company’s success. We have responded to your letters with patience and online orders while the stores were closed, and our continued patronage and support now that they’ve begun to reopen.

While the most recent community message came from the new Powell’s CEO, Patrick Bassett, we don’t yet know Mr. Bassett the way we’ve come to know you and your family over the years. We also know that because you are the owner of the company, Mr. Bassett's message carries your endorsement, so we would like to continue the conversation with you.

Your workers — many of whom have devoted years, some decades, to Powell’s success — are what makes your stores special. Their friendly faces, depth of knowledge, and devotion to their work are what has kept us coming back for so many years. We were saddened by your announcement of mass layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic, but also heartened to learn that the contract between Powell’s and ILWU Local 5 would ensure your workers' rightful return to the workplace, in order of seniority, as jobs became available. We understood that it might take a while, but we trusted that on the other side of things, we would be able to walk into a Powell’s store, see a familiar face, and breathe a collective sigh of relief as things returned to some kind of normal.

So you can imagine our dismay when we read the recent announcement and learned that many of those workers — who lost their jobs through no fault of their own — were no longer eligible to be recalled and would have to apply for their former jobs. That is unconscionable.

We understand there’s some dispute over the language in the labor contract or what was agreed to in conversations between the company and the union at the onset of the pandemic. We want to be clear that this letter has nothing to do with either of those things. This is about what is kind and morally right. This is about going above and beyond whatever is minimally required by a labor contract or by law and showing compassion for the dedicated workers who have made Powell’s a success. This is also about what we, as a community, are willing to support, and frankly, we need you to do better.

We, the members of the Powell’s community, ask that you immediately halt all external hiring and begin recalling your laid-off workers in order of seniority. It's the right thing to do, and we’re saddened by the fact that we even have to ask.

The Powell’s Community



2021-04-15 22:10:32 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2021-04-15 14:05:40 -0400

500 signatures reached

2021-04-14 23:56:48 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-04-14 21:57:08 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-04-14 20:53:06 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-04-14 18:32:35 -0400

10 signatures reached