- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Students, professors and some state workers are protesting against a proposal to privatize the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s bookstore.

About 100 people stood outside the store in a cold drizzle Monday to protest a plan that could allow a large chain to operate the bookstore, multiple media outlets reported. The rally was organized by the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

The protesters are worried some of those who work in the store could lose their jobs or benefits.

“These professionals deserve our gratitude, not a pink slip,” said Don Nonini, a professor of anthropology.

Protesters said UNC’s move to seek bids from large bookstore chains is a solution in search of a problem. The UNC Student Stores is a self-sustaining operation that employs 200 students and last year generated $400,000 in scholarship funds for the university. The store has 49 permanent employees.



School officials said they want to see what private companies can offer. The university is putting out a request for proposals, and expects bids from Follett and Barnes & Noble. Follett, which owns several college bookstores at North Carolina campuses, sent UNC a letter last summer suggesting it could generate an annual commission of at least $3 million for the university annually.

Vice chancellor Matt Fajack said not bids have been received yet.

“I have a lot of concerns for the employees, too, and we’ll take that into consideration when we look at the bids,” Fajack said.

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