Double switch

Before Barnes & Noble College Bookstore Inc. took over the USF Bookstore management Monday, questions had already begun to surface about job security for some of its employees.

Jeff Mack, director of Auxiliary Services, said the contract with Barnes & Noble, which is still in the works, will last for 10 years.

For employees concerned about their jobs, Mack said they have an option: Transfer out of the Bookstore into another university position or stick with Barnes & Noble and run the risk of being laid off.

According to some who opted for the transfer, Bookstore management informed them that they would be laid off in early July and could remain at the Bookstore for the 60-day transitional period.

After that period, the fate of their jobs would rest in the hands of Barnes & Noble.

“After that no one knew what was going to happen to us,” said Joe McDonough a full time employee who worked with the Bookstore for five years.

McDonough said the USF Human Resources representatives were the ones who went to the Bookstore and talked to the employees about job opportunities within the university. McDonough said no one from the Barnes & Noble College Bookstore Inc. went to the Bookstore to talk to the employees about benefits, salaries or other job-related issues that accompany the switch.

“Only Human Resources took the trouble to come and talk to us,” McDonough said. “There was a lot of uncertainty if we stayed with Barnes & Noble,” he said.

Stan Frank, director of Marketing for Barnes & Noble., said he couldn’t comment about Barnes & Noble representatives not meeting with Bookstore employees, and he would have to make some calls regarding the issue.

Before the transitional period expired Monday, the USF Human Resources office had been working with Bookstore employees individually in terms of finding them new positions throughout USF, said Sandy Lovins, director of Human Resources.

“(Human Resources) is working very actively with all individuals who have been affected with the transition,” Lovins said. “We’ve structured a research plan that takes into consideration their position, title and their salary expectation.”

However, Lovins said, HR can’t guarantee employees’ Bookstore salaries and benefits will be matched in a transfer. Lovins said

“Employees have some rights,” Lovins said. “But (HR) can’t guarantee possible cuts.”

McDonough did suffer a pay cut as a result of his transfer to the post office, although, the cut was slight, he said.

According to Mack, there are 50 Bookstore employees, including those from the St. Petersburg campus and the Health Sciences store, who would have to address the issue of whether they would still work with Barnes & Noble or request to be reassigned.

A former bookstore employee, under condition of anonymity, said she chose to take another position at USF because she saw the lack of information from Barnes & Noble as a problem.

“I liked working there … but there was no conversation about benefits or pay with (Barnes & Noble)” she said.

Lovins said the HR office has successfully helped 41 bookstore employees find alternate jobs throughout the university.

“We made the transition during the summer,” Mack said. “I don’t think the opening this semester was any different than (USF) had before.”

The Bookstore employees who have transferred have found jobs in Parking and Transportation Services, the post office, payroll, financial aid, International Affairs and the history department. The anonymous former Bookstore employee said she had been working there full-time for 21 years.

“I expected to retire from the Bookstore,” she said. “But life is full of changes.”