Events, Labor — June 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

ACTION: Panera Bread uses Natl. Labor Relations Review Board dysfunction to exploit bakers trying to unionize



Over a year ago, Panera Bread bakers along the I-94 corridor Michigan voted to form a union. The parent company refused to recognize the union, forcing the workers to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) demanding that the company recognize and bargain with their union, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). The NLRB ruled for the workers. However, due to a decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB overturning President Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB, Panera Bread has refused to comply. From the BCTGM blog:

This is how hope turns into despair. More than a year since they voted to form a union, Panera workers in Michigan are still waiting. The franchisee that owns the Panera Bread stores in the region refused to recognize the BCTGM as the official representative of the bakers and refused to meet to bargain a first contract. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Panera broke the law by refusing to bargain, and ordered the company to bargain with the bakers. But the company appealed that ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court, which has put the case on hold because of another ruling about President Obama’s three recess appointments to the NLRB. So the workers are still waiting for justice. {…}

The uncertainty of the NLRB adds to the difficulties of the Panera workers; the company’s appeal of the NLRB’s ruling has thrown the case into limbo – along with at least 200 other cases – after the D.C. Circuit Court ruling.

The Noel Canning decision has seriously undermined enforcement of the law, creating chaos and uncertainty for workers who have turned to the NLRB for protection of their rights. Employers are using the decision to challenge the NLRB’s rulings, like that of the Panera workers, and the D.C. Circuit is putting these cases on hold, leaving workers without remedies when they are illegally fired for union activity or when their employer refuses to bargain with their representative.

More on the ongoing negative impacts of the Noel Canning decision “>HERE.

One Panera baker, Kyle Schilling, has already been fired for his union activity, a union-busting action that harkens back to the early days of the labor movement in the USA. Due to the disarray with the NLRB, he is unlikely to see justice for this action or to regain his job.

BCTGM with the AFL-CIO have organized a solidarity rally to show support for the Panera Bread bakers and demand that the company stop playing games and recognize their union. The rally will happen at the Panera Café (5119 West Main Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan) on Friday, June 21st from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Click image for a downloadable flyer (pdf)

You can RSVP for the event on their Facebook event page HERE. If you are in the area, stop by and lend your voice. If you are a patron of Panera bread, consider voicing your disgust at their anti-union actions both with a boycott and by writing them a letter explaining why you are boycotting them. Letters to the editor of newspapers in towns where these bakers are organizing, Kalamazoo, Portage, Battle Creek, Jackson, and St. Joseph, would be helpful as well.