SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Portland's iconic Powell's Books rehires 100 laid-off workers to meet online surge in orders

Powell's Books, the legendary Oregon-based bookstore, announced it has rehired more than 100 of its workers amid the flood of online orders it has received s...

Posted: Mar 30, 2020 12:39 PM
Updated: Mar 30, 2020 3:45 PM

Powell's Books, the legendary Oregon-based bookstore, announced it has rehired more than 100 of its workers amid the flood of online orders it has received since closing its stores because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Owner and CEO Emily Powell thanked customers for their support in a statement on the store's website.

'Your kind words, messages of encouragement, ideas for perseverance, and orders for books have taken our breath away,' she wrote. 'Thanks to your orders on Powells.com, we now have over 100 folks working at Powell's again -- all full time with benefits. Most importantly, we're working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.'

Powell's Books, which describes itself as the world's largest independent bookstore, employed more than 530 people, according to its website.

However, as coronavirus concerns increased nationwide, the indie bookstore chain closed its five Portland-area stores on March 15 and a result had to lay off the majority of its employees.

'At this time, we feel we cannot honor the social distancing guidelines presented by the CDC and have temporarily closed our five Portland-area stores,' the bookstore wrote in a message to customers on its website.

In a letter to employees on March 17, Powell warned that she didn't expect to be able to reopen the stores for at least eight weeks. She said the chain couldn't afford to pay worker's salaries and benefits while it is closed.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5, which represents Powell's employees, welcomed the bookstore's decision to close to protect workers on its website, but criticized its handling of the layoffs.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the union said that 'only 49 frontline bookstore workers have been recalled to their former positions.'

'The other 51+ are management staff, doing frontline bookseller, shelver, and shipping work, instead of the union workers who were trained to do this work and did that work everyday,' the statement said.

The union said it had filed a formal challenge to Powell's Books actions.

'While we understand the difficult nature of the situation COVID-19 has created in our society, we remain incredibly disappointed in how Powell's has dealt with this situation and treated workers,' the statement said.

Powell's said it will keep its website sales running for as long as it can, and promised to reopen its stores as soon as it can.

'Right now, however, our focus is on keeping Powell's moving, keeping our community healthy, taking care of our wonderful customers, and having as many folks working with health insurance as our sales can support,' Powell wrote.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 195884

Reported Deaths: 2590
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38744593
Washington25768233
Marion22259309
Clackamas17723214
Lane13154149
Jackson10959141
Deschutes920075
Umatilla823684
Linn503468
Yamhill450376
Klamath449464
Polk379453
Malheur353063
Josephine337271
Douglas330971
Benton313320
Jefferson222237
Coos209835
Columbia176029
Union145123
Lincoln138921
Wasco138428
Hood River119631
Crook114022
Morrow111316
Clatsop9958
Baker96014
Tillamook6523
Curry64710
Grant5236
Lake4557
Harney3498
Wallowa1855
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3769827

Reported Deaths: 62699
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123756124120
Riverside2997934594
San Bernardino2972614724
San Diego2791453742
Orange2712965031
Santa Clara1190982098
Kern1093201376
Sacramento1051641693
Fresno1019871690
Alameda881571668
Ventura811021017
San Joaquin733101394
Contra Costa68976805
Stanislaus623101061
Tulare49830840
Monterey43662382
San Mateo42063570
San Francisco36808546
Santa Barbara34391459
Solano33011253
Merced31919461
Sonoma30071321
Imperial28516729
Kings23017246
Placer22720293
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16483242
Santa Cruz16275206
Marin14079227
Yolo13938211
Shasta12175226
Butte12140192
El Dorado10193113
Napa989182
Sutter9445113
Yuba628549
San Benito607463
Lassen570624
Tehama559063
Nevada475575
Tuolumne413967
Humboldt413542
Mendocino412749
Amador366747
Lake348943
Glenn240125
Siskiyou225525
Colusa223616
Calaveras213654
Inyo142838
Del Norte13988
Mono12844
Plumas7186
Modoc5014
Mariposa4507
Trinity4025
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned360
Medford
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 63°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 53°
Crater Lake
Mostly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 66°
Grants Pass
Mostly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 63°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 62°
Cool & windy Wednesday with shower chances
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events