Padilla, Sanders Lead Letter with Colleagues in Support of Striking Bakery Workers in California
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with their colleagues Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), sent a letter to Bob Rich Jr., Chairman and majority owner of the Rich Products Corporation, to express support for bakery workers at the Jon Donaire Desserts production plant in Santa Fe Springs, California, owned by the Rich Products Corporation. These workers, the majority of whom are Latina women, have been on strike for better wages and working conditions since November 3, 2021. They are often forced into mandatory overtime with little-to-no notice and sometimes work up to 16 hours a day.
The senators urged Chairman Rich to bargain in good faith with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union and to agree to a fair contract for the striking workers as soon as possible.
“What the 100 bakery workers, who make cakes for Baskin Robbins, Safeway and Cold Stone Creamery are asking for is not radical,” the senators wrote to Rich. “These workers, 75 percent of whom are Latina women, have been working up to 16 hours a day. All they are asking for is a $1 per hour wage increase each year for three years, respect on the job, a fair attendance policy and no cuts to their healthcare benefits.”
The bakery strike comes amidst a wave of worker protests across industries and states, including at least 185 strikes at 255 locations in 2021.
Read the full letter here and below:
Dear Mr. Rich:
We write to you today to express support for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) at the Jon Donaire Desserts plant in Sante Fe Springs, California who have been on strike since November 3, 2021. We urge you to reach an agreement as soon as possible on a contract that is fair and that includes good wages, decent benefits, reliable schedules and safe working conditions.
What the 100 bakery workers, who make cakes for Baskin Robbins, Safeway and Cold Stone Creamery are asking for is not radical. These workers, 75 percent of whom are Latina women, have been working up to 16 hours a day. All they are asking for is a $1 per hour wage increase each year for three years, respect on the job, a fair attendance policy and no cuts to their healthcare benefits.
Let’s be clear. Rich Products is not a poor company. It is not going broke. Last year, your company made over $4 billion in revenue. During the pandemic, you became over $2 billion richer and now have an estimated net worth of more than $7.5 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. We do not believe that it is too much to ask that you treat your workers with the respect and dignity they have earned and deserve.
Average wages at Jon Donaire are less than $17 per hour – which is slightly higher than the minimum wage in California. BCTGM members at Rich Products’ facility in Murfeesboro, Tennessee—where the cost of living is much lower—make, on average, $6 more per hour than their Los Angeles peers. In your California plant workers are often penalized for absences, such as medical appointments, which are unapproved but necessary.
The work at the Sante Fe Springs plant is difficult and days are long. Production line speeds continue to increase to as high as 38 cakes per minute. Many workers report hand and arm injuries and physical and emotional stress levels are high. Mandatory overtime is common, and workers can work up to 16 hour shifts with little notice. Morale at work is low, and our understanding is that these dedicated workers have reported their concerns to Rich Products headquarters. Unfortunately, these concerns continue to go unanswered and ignored.
Mr. Rich: Your employees have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, keeping production lines moving at breakneck speeds and fueling company profits. Meanwhile, your employees are falling further and further behind economically.
Your employees deserve better. We urge you to bargain in good faith with the union and agree to a fair contract as soon as possible.