Second bookstore in Washington, D.C. to unionize and reach a contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 26, 2023) – Today, the staff of Solid State Books announced they have unanimously voted to ratify their first union contract. The vote took place during a virtual meeting in which 100% of the staff participated.

This makes Solid State Books the second unionized bookstore in the District of Columbia to ratify a collective bargaining agreement, after Politics and Prose workers did so last year. Workers in both cases affiliated with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 Union.

The Solid State Books contract was modeled off the collective bargaining agreement reached with Politics and Prose, so while most first union contracts take well over a year to reach an agreement, in this case, negotiations were completed in only 17 days.

“We got here quickly, and we owe that in large part to our union siblings at Politics and Prose,” said Kiara Martinez, who works as a bookseller at Solid State Books and served on the committee that negotiated the contract. “While we are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done, our journey is only just beginning. It’s our hope that we inspire others to begin theirs.”

“We are very pleased we were able reach our first collective bargaining agreement with Local 400 so quickly and amicably,” said Solid State Books owners Jake Cumsky-Whitlock and Scott Abel in a statement. “This agreement is a win-win for both Solid State Books and our employees. We look forward to continuing the productive relationship and dialogue we have forged with Local 400.”

The three-year contract covers all non-management employees, with key provisions including:

  • Cost-of-living increases tied to the DC minimum wage (which is indexed to the Consumer Price Index), as well as pay increases retroactive to May 1
  • Additional holiday on Juneteenth, with hours worked on that day paid at time and a half
  • Extra week of vacation after the third year of employment
  • Ban on mandatory “clopening” shifts, in which the same employee must close a store one night and open it again the next morning
  • Better staffing – at least two employees in the store at all time and employees may not be disciplined for work not completed due to short staffing
  • Robust anti-discrimination protections, including Crown Act protections
  • Bereavement leave for full-timers

Workers at Solid State Books unionized in April after management agreed to voluntarily recognize their union, which was supported by every eligible employee.

The workers at Solid State Books and Politics and Prose join a growing number of booksellers to recently unionize, including at four Barnes & Noble locations in the northeast who recently voted to unionize, along with workers at independent sellers McNally Jackson, Goods for the Study, Greenlight Bookstore and Book Culture in the New York area, as well as workers at Half Price Books in Minnesota.


The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.