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Liberal Manhattan Book Store Owner Bows to Union Pressure

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A staple of Manhattan liberalism was forced to unionize in July after union agitators shut down business at his store, according to the New York Times.

Chris Doeblin, the self-described "extremely progressive liberal" owner of Book Culture, came under fire from labor activists for opposing unionization at his independent book stores. The campaign against Doeblin began when he fired several employees, including managers, for joining the ranks of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

[L]est there be any doubt about Mr. Doeblin’s sentiments about organized labor, he made them clear in his June 24 email, describing his store as "always being in opposition to the union."

So what happens when a bookseller and those he serves, after years of political harmony, fall suddenly and dramatically out of sync?

Well, then you’ve got a fight on your hands.

On July 2, most of Mr. Doeblin’s remaining employees went on strike, picketing his two stores with the help of the union and its giant inflatable rats, and urging neighborhood residents to join in a boycott. The news spread on Twitter, in the local news media and on community email lists. Sales plunged.

Some faculty members at Columbia who buy course books at the store on West 112th Street, which specializes in academic texts, considered taking their business elsewhere.

The union is a regional power player with more than $45,000 in 2014 political donations with almost all of that money concentrated in New York, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The mob incited by the union agitators hurt Doeblin’s bottomline, forcing him to recognize the union and re-hire four of his five fired workers.

"My ideology is to make payroll, to make the rent, to make another mortgage payment," Doeblin told the Times.

Book Culture is just the latest liberal organization to bow to public pressure campaigns from union activists. In April, Media Matters founder David Brock came under fire for refusing to allow workers to join the Service Employees International Union. After four months of criticism from leftwing activists and union agitators, Brock allowed the workers to conduct a secret-ballot election to join the union. Workers announced they had joined the union on July 1.