When workers at the Minneapolis-based Franklin Street Bakery had enough of management’s unfair treatment, they reached out to BCTGM Local 22 for help in forming a union. But as soon as the company got word that workers were trying to unionize, they began harassing, threatening and intimidating them.
Since its organizing drive began this spring, Local 22 has filed “at least a dozen” charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Franklin Street Bakery for violating workers’ rights.
It’s not the first time workers at Franklin Street Bakery have tried to unionize. Ten years ago when the workers petitioned for a union election, the company unleashed a textbook anti-union campaign and the union vote came 12 votes short.
Starting pay for the roughly 100 workers at Franklin Street Bakery is $11 per hour, and workers say the company’s draconian attendance policy provides management with an excuse not to offer many raises. In addition, Franklin Street Bakery workers get no paid holidays, and most cannot afford the premiums to enroll in the company-sponsored health insurance plan.
Together with Local 22, on August 24 workers held a rally outside the Franklin Street Bakery to call attention to the injustices. A key speaker was Rosa Baires who was fired by the company. Baires says management gave her permission to leave her job to travel to New York and care for her dying ex-husband earlier this year. But when she returned, she found herself out of a job.
“I’m very sure that they did fire me because I signed the petition for the union,” Baires said at the rally outside the bakery, where more than 50 people stood in solidarity with the workers.