Stand with Panera: Workers Protest NLRB Nominations Confirmation Hold Up
Community members stand up for workplace rights
(KALAMAZOO, MI) – On Friday, June 21, workers and community members gathered outside of Panera Bread to protest the hold up of nominations to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which has resulted in specific instances of workplace retaliation for union activity at Panera Bread locations owned by franchisee Bread of Life.
In 2012, Panera Bread bakers at cafes along the I-94 corridor in Michigan voted to join the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). More than a year since they voted to form a union, workers are still waiting.
“Even though we voted to form a union last year, we still face a hostile work environment,” said Kathleen Von Eitzen a Panera worker at the Battle Creek location. “In order to rebuild our economy here in Michigan and level the playing field for working people across the country, we need an NLRB that works.”
The NLRB ruled that the company violated Federal Law by failing “to recognize and bargain with the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the unit.” The company appealed the decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court put the case on hold because its holding in another case throws into question the status of current Board members who were recess appointed by President Obama.
“I’m a customer service representative and CWA Local 4123 member, but I’m here to stand in solidarity with Panera workers and other workers who are facing these same fights every day,” said Annette Fox. “No one should fear retaliation from their employer for union activity. In fact, that’s illegal. I hope that the NLRB nominees are confirmed soon so that these workers can see justice upheld.”
One of the original Panera bakers has been fired by the company for his union activity, with little recourse due to the radical decision of the D.C. Circuit.
“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I am going through,” said Kyle Schilling, a union activist who was recently fired from a Kalamazoo Panera. “Justice delayed is justice denied. The Senate must confirm the NLRB’s nominations so workers like me can get the justice we deserve.”
President Obama has nominated a bi-partisan package of nominees for the National Labor Relations Board. Without approval from the US Senate, the NLRB will be left without quorum to operate and make important decisions that affect workers every day.