November 21, 2012 – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a Summary Judgment against Bread of Life d/b/a Panera Bread in South Western Michigan. The Judgment states the company violated Sections 8(a)(5) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (ACT) by refusing to recognize and bargain with the BCTGM Local 70 (Grand Rapids, Mich.).
On February 24, 2012, after a full and complete hearing on a petition filed by the BCTGM Local 70 to represent all of the I-94 Market Bakers, the NLRB ruled the unit was appropriate and ordered a secret ballot election be conducted at all six of the Bakery/Cafes. On March 22nd and 23rd the NLRB Region 7 conducted a secret ballot election at six Panera Bread Cafes in Southwest Michigan in a division called the I-94 Corridor Market Place. Eighteen Bakers were eligible to vote and the majority voted yes (11-7) to be represented by BCTGM Local 70.
“We began this union movement to put an end to the arbitrary and capricious unfair management practices at Panera Bread,” says Lead Baker Daniel Wood. “Panera’s abuses moved us to exercise our legal rights to unionize, we’ve faced persecution and harassment by the company ever since,” Wood adds.
The company refused to accept the majority vote and filed objections to the election. BCTGM International Representative John Price filed more than two dozen unfair labor practice charges against the company for threatening, coercing and intimidating workers during the campaign. Other charges were filed against Panera Bread of Life for unilaterally making changes to working conditions without negotiating with the Union after the majority of Bakers voted to be represented by Local 70.
After several months of the NLRB investigating the charges against the company and the objections filed against the union, the NLRB dismissed the company’s charges and issued an official complaint against Panera Bread of Life. On August 14, 2012, the company agreed to drop its objections to the election and settle all of the unfair labor practice charges which included certification of the election results.
“Less than a month later the company continued to violate Federal labor laws, including, refusing to bargain,” notes John Price. On October 2, 2012, the NLRB issued another complaint against Panera Bread of Life, resulting in the most recent Judgment against the company. “This company has no respect for worker’s rights or this country’s labor laws,” Price notes.
“I simply want to be respected and recognized as the artisan baker that Panera advertises that I am,” concludes Kathleen von Eitzen, a baker at the company’s Battle Creek, Mich. Café.