Phillips Books Agrees To Rehire Organizer
The Phillips Book Store in Harvard Square agreed yesterday to rehire a union organizer discharged on Feb. 10, ending a threat by some Phillips employees and the SDS labor committee to picket the store.
Frank Steinhart, operations vice-president of Brentano's Books, which owns Phillips, flew to Boston yesterday and met with five Phillips clerks and the organizer, Bruce McMurray, a 1968 Ed School graduate.
Steinhart rehired McMurray with back pay, stating, according to the employees, that Brentano's did not wish to interfere with their right to unionize. Steinhart and the employees will meet next week to clarify a written wage policy for the Phillips store; the employees plan to meet on Monday to discuss organizing plans.
Steinhart attributed the dispute to "too little communication" between the Brentano's New York office and the Phillips employees. The New York office did not fire McMurray, he said; it was "under the impression" that McMurray was resigning. The requirement that McMurray give two weeks' notice before quitting was waived for his benefit, Steinhart said.
McMurray told the CRIMSON on Thursday night that he was fired Feb. 10 by the Phillips store manager, Margaret Specht, for adversely affecting employee morale. He had made it clear to the store, McMurray claimed, that he was not resigning.
In an interview yesterday morning, Steinhart replied to the charge made on Thursday by the employees' group that Phillips' wage policy was "inequitable." Brentano's did not lower wages when it bought the Phillips store, Steinhart said, and does grant raises for seniority. Although Phillips has paid temporary student help more than permanent employees at inventory, Steinhart noted, the wage difference was not meant as deliberate discrimination.
Steinhart conceded that some employees of equal seniority receive varying wages, but only, he claimed, because their bookselling experience varies.