All Episodes

February 5, 2024 53 mins

Mia talks with Lydia and Ben from Doughnut Workers United about Blue Star Doughnut's campaign of fear, intimidation, and retaliation against union organizers.

Follow @DWU_BlueStar 

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media welcome, Dick. It appen here at the podcast
that we're starting as if it was a nomal podcast
instead of doing some terrible thing like we normally do.
I'm your host, Bia Wong. This is a podcast about
things falling apart, and this is a putting it back
together again episode. Yeah, and I'm I'm here with two
workers from Donut Workers United, specifically at Blue Star Donuts,

Lydia and Ben, to talk about unionization efforts and some
really terrible union busting stuff. So Lydia, Ben, welcome to
the show.

Speaker 2 (00:34):
Thank you, thank you for having us. Super excited.

Speaker 1 (00:38):
Yeah, I'm really excited to have you two here. So
all right, So Blue Star Donuts is a donut place
in Portland's for people who are not in Portland's question mark,
which is probably a lot of you. I don't know,
I don't know where you are right now. So I
guess the place I wanted to start with talking about
this is how did you two get involved with this campaign?

Speaker 3 (01:03):
You know, it's actually for me. It was right before Halloween.

Speaker 4 (01:06):
I went to a coworker's house and you know, we
had some drinks and hung out and she just sort
of you know, the conversation just sort of organically led
to work and talking about work and you know, this
is messed up at work, this is frustrating us. And
then she was like, hey, like, what's your opinion on
you know, union stuff? And I actually had when I

worked at Starbucks in Texas, I had tried to unionize
my location and it didn't no one was interested, but
I you know, they She asked us if we wanted
to sign a union card or union authorization card, and
I was all for it.

Speaker 3 (01:44):
You know, I'm very into it. So that's that's how
it started for me.

Speaker 2 (01:49):
Yeah, So bouncing off of that, it was, I would say,
a couple of days before that Halloween party. For me,
I'm pretty close friends with the woman who started all
of this, and so I was visiting her and she
just kind of briefly mentioned She's like, hey, do you
know what's going on with Blue Star and kind of

open ended question, and you know this company, almost every
day something happens. So I was like, I mean, maybe
maybe not what's going on? And she's like, well, like
are you good with unions? And I'm like, oh, girl,
of course I am. I was actually involved with a

union in a previous job that was more higher end
like government board specific instead of an individual and I
was like, yeah, it hit me what's going on. And
she's like, okay, cool, we have a couple of people
interested trying to unionize Blue Star and I was like, oh,

sign me up, Like let's do this thing. And then
at that Halloween already when we were all kind of
gathered there, we briefly talked about it and how messed
up things were, swalk stories and it just kind of
click that leads to my brain of like okay, yeah,
let's do this. So that was that was my end.

Speaker 1 (03:18):
Yeah, it seems like it was a really a pretty
quick campaign. I know you all had an election. Oh
how many weeks ago?

Speaker 2 (03:25):
Was that like.

Speaker 3 (03:27):
Two weeks and half? Two weeks ago?

Speaker 1 (03:30):
Yeah, I guess it'll be like three when this goes out. Yeah,
so that's that's a very very quick campaign. How many
people like ish are are at the shop.

Speaker 4 (03:43):
It depends on if you're adding like all the satellites
and versus like the regular Flagship store. I think we
have thirty something at Flagship, which is the location on Jefferson,
and then I think there's maybe fifty one employees total.

Speaker 2 (03:57):
Yeah, we're pretty scattered around all of Portland, with one
shop in Lake Oswego, but majority of us are in
headquarters at Flagship. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (04:09):
That's something I think is pretty interesting about this campaign
and about a lot of the independent campaigns, is that, Yeah,
it's shops that are it's shops that are pretty small,
shops that are split around, and it shops that, like,
you know it shops with high turnover. Now I was wondering, well, actually,
I don't know. I'm assuming you get high turnover.

Speaker 2 (04:32):
There is a lot of turnover in the satellite shops
for sure.

Speaker 4 (04:36):
I mean I would even say that there was a
fair amount of turnover at Flagship. You know, we had
a time where in our kitchen, which is the wholesale
kitchen which makes the doughnut bites. We refer to it
as Red Kitchen, we had four people quit in four
days jesushost. They didn't Yeah, they didn't replace those people

to continue working than producing the same amount with four
less people.

Speaker 3 (05:03):
Yeah, but there were you know.

Speaker 4 (05:07):
A lot of like poached wororker like temporary workers that
were coming and going while I was there.

Speaker 3 (05:12):
And yeah, some pretty serious turnover.

Speaker 2 (05:15):
That kind of happened with me. Last year, I was
working at Blue Star for like about eight months. Oh
it's the new year, I guess two years ago. And
then I quit. I left, and then unfortunately last year
I hit a little unemployment zone and I'm like, I
need a job. So I came back to Blue Star

for about three months and this is when everything was
going on. But long story short, sorry, last time I
was there, we kind of had a little bit of
turnover as well. A lot of people were not great,
and we had a lot of meetings and got some
people fired. Granted, like Ben was saying, is that no

one replaced them, and so it's very much of like
we have to cover them and a lot more quantity.

Speaker 1 (06:10):
Yeah, so has the sort of speed ups from that
was that one of the main things that was driving
the unionization or like what other kinds of things were
like driving people into this.

Speaker 3 (06:21):
There were a few things, a few main things.

Speaker 4 (06:24):
Pay and inconsistency of pay was a real big issue.
For instance, there was a person in our kitchen who
me and her started around the same time. We had
very similar previous experience. Neither of us were cross trained.
We did the same exact job she was making three
dollars an hour more than I was. And so that

kind of thing happens a lot at Blue Star. And
there's one of the biggest things for me, honestly, was
the point system, what they call the point system the
disciplinary system at Blue Starly, you get a certain amount
of points that you're allowed to hit. If you go

over that amount of points, you're done, you're fired, and
you can get h you know, I don't remember the
numbers exactly, but it's like one point for calling out
of a shift, half a point for being ten minutes late.

Speaker 3 (07:18):

Speaker 4 (07:18):
There's all these things that you can earn. Yeah, there's
all these things that you can earn points for. And
it you know, if you reach that number eight, it
doesn't really matter how good of an employee you are,
you're fired.

Speaker 2 (07:30):
Yeah. And on top of that, with the point system,
it's incredibly unfair because you get points due to things
you can't control, like the weathering.

Speaker 3 (07:40):
It's very able.

Speaker 2 (07:41):
Yeah, And the main issue, what's traffic and crashes. If
like a car crash happens and you're stuck in that
you and you're like late to work because of it,
even when you like let your managers know and let
your team. Know, you still get punished for it and
you get points and that counts to the eight point total.

So that was a main part of the point system
that really really had us upset and very unfair, honestly.

Speaker 4 (08:13):
Well, and it's very it's a very ablest system. I
mean there were multiple people in our kitchen alone that
had chronic illness issues, ye, myself included. And I there
were two nights when in the three ish months that
I was working there, two days where I had not
slept it all the night before and I was literally

not seeing straight, like I was seeing double. I couldn't
walk in a straight line like I was not okay,
And you know, there's some heavy machinery and like some
really hot oil in the kitchen, and I was like,
I really don't think I'm safe to come to work.
And they're like, that's fine, you know, stay home, get
some rest, but you are getting a point.

Speaker 3 (08:51):
What the And yeah, so you know, a very ablest system.

Speaker 2 (08:57):
Yeah, and going off with that as well, whole sick
time and PTO was a mess. And when we get
like paid time off, it won't even cover a whole shift.
We'll be lucky to get four hours. Yeah, no, it's
it's insane really, and so I'll never forget. Like just recently,

our special Christmas prize thing, our grand prize on the
twelfth day was two hours pto.

Speaker 3 (09:33):
Two hours congratulations.

Speaker 2 (09:39):
And sick time too. Yeah, there were super proper like
we were so hard for this, you deserve this, blah
blah blah. And with sick time it like will barely
cover a day. And on top of that, if you're
like sincerely sick, I got bronchitis on my birthday and

I had to leave work for like a week, And
around the like second or third day, my manager is like, okay,
well for you to be excused properly, you have to
go back and get a doctor's note from them and
to prove that you are not able to come into work.

And you know, I could ramble on like they they
don't handle COVID. Well, they're like, if you can stand up,
you can slap on a mask and come into work.
And COVID specifically spread so quickly there because people were
so scared of not coming to work that they would
get punished and get points. This then the other that

sick people will come into work and get other people sick.
It happened, yeah, all the time.

Speaker 4 (10:52):
I mean I can think of specifically. We had a
coworker who, you know, kind of young. This was you know,
she was kind of getting her feet wet in the
working world, and she had had some issues with illness,
and she came to work with strep throat. Yeah, because
she was so afraid of getting I mean she literally

was like in tears, like having a breakdown to the
managers because she was like, I can't get fired, Like
I need to keep this job, and I'm afraid that
if I don't come in, I'm going to get fired.
And that's the kind of culture they create there with
that disciplinary system.

Speaker 2 (11:30):
Yeah, it's it's really rough because majority of these workers
rely on this job, like this job is their income
and they can't really do anything else. And it's so
incredibly toxic there where they're just so afraid to not

come into work because they will be punished over it.

Speaker 1 (11:58):
It kind of goes without saying which we as you
should say it, which is like it is unbelievably discussing
to literally put people's lives in danger because you don't
want to let someone take like a few days off
because they have fucking stripped Like that's unbelievable.

Speaker 2 (12:14):
Yeah, over like peace and love to Blue Star, but
over donuts like donut bite yeah, like yeah, like like
I don't, I don't.

Speaker 1 (12:26):
I don't think. I don't think it's okay to make
like nurses go in when they're sick, but like donuts,
like this is oh my god, like.

Speaker 4 (12:37):
You know, as you know, who cares if we're suffering
as long as they make their bottom line?

Speaker 2 (12:42):
You know.

Speaker 1 (12:42):
Yeah, It's really one of those things. It's like yes,
like they will survive if slightly less donuts are produced,
like they will be fine. However, Comma all over here
are getting terribly sick because of all the ship that
is that is terrible.

Speaker 2 (13:01):
Yeah, no, like I laugh all the time about it,
and I, you know, my roommate and I are like
best friends. I come home almost every day from those
shifts being like you'll never guess what happened over like
the most craziest hilarious things. I'm like, I can't believe
this is real, Like I'm experiencing this.

Speaker 1 (13:23):
Yeah, and we are going to talk more about the
absolutely wild stuff that happened here. Unfortunately after we come
back from this ad break that pays some of the
bills question Mark we are back. So yeah, I wanted

to ask about some of the other stuff that's been
happening at this shop, because everything that I've ever heard
about is just like, I don't know, just deeply weird.
And it's well, I guess, I guess one place we
can sort of story. It's like it seems like it's
one of these places where they, I don't know, it
has this very sort of like progressive eveneer around it,

and then when it comes time to like you know,
like like even sort of live up to those ideals,
you just get this. Everyone's forced to come home with COVID.

Speaker 4 (14:25):
Yeah, and it's it's so funny because you walk in
and you know, there's there's pride flags there, you know,
all all of the workers are you know, queer and
cool and progressive, and you know they're supporting the Portland Teachers' Union.

Speaker 3 (14:40):
And yet you know, and this story is just disgusting.

Speaker 4 (14:45):
We had a worker in our kitchen, actually in Lydia,
in a nice kitchen, who sexually assaulted two of our coworkers.

Speaker 1 (14:53):
Jesus Christ.

Speaker 4 (14:54):
Yes, these these women brought it forward to management. Management
victim blamed, they thanked them for keeping it quiet and
not letting it interfere with their work. Yeah, it was
not handled well. That was specifically the manager of Red Kitchen,
Britney Bergner. A lot of just really like callous and

inappropriate mishandling of that situation.

Speaker 3 (15:19):
Yeah, and it was really disgusting.

Speaker 2 (15:22):
Yeah, it was disgusting. And I was so so grateful
that I wasn't there when this happened, because I would
literally toward this man apart. But the thing with that
manager is that him and her got along really well,
and what I've heard I wasn't there. I heard that

there was some favoritism towards him, and so when these
allegations came up, that's when she got She mishandled it
a lot, and it was not dealt with properly at all,
and it seemed very much swept under rug kind of

very much. So yeah, he did.

Speaker 3 (16:09):
Nobody talked about it.

Speaker 2 (16:10):
Yeah, he did get fired eventually, but eventually that's the
main thing. Yeah, and was handled right away.

Speaker 4 (16:18):
And the you know the effect it had on these
women that came forward that this happened to. I mean
I I hung out with them outside of work where
they would talk about you know what happened and how
it was handled, and like you know, they were sobbing,
they were you know, their lives were torn apart over this.
I mean it's a very serious thing. As you know,
we all know, to be sexually assaulted and then you know,

to have it treated this way by someone who's in
a position of authority over you, it's you know, I
can't help but keep using that word disgusting. It's just
it's inhumane and honestly, like that's blue.

Speaker 2 (16:53):
Star, Yeah, especially by a company that reaches how open
and awesome and those family we are, and then behind
the scenes they're actually mistreating their workers literally every single day.
So it's it is, it is disgusting. I have no

other word to describe it.

Speaker 1 (17:17):
Yeah, I mean that's like someone's sexually assaulting you and
then them not being fired means you can fucking run
into them at your job, which is like the fucking
just absolute nightmare shit. That is like the worst fucking
shit that can happen.

Speaker 3 (17:32):
And we all worked in the same kitchen.

Speaker 4 (17:34):
We all worked in the same kitchen, so we were
guaranteed to see each other for most of the day
every day, and it's like, yeah, you know, you expect
these women to go to work and stare at this
guy and and you know, talk and laugh with this
guy who assaulted them, Like that's crazy.

Speaker 1 (17:48):
Yeah, that's absolutely fucking terrible. And I hope, I hope,
like I hope fucking like some shit happens to these
people because like God.

Speaker 2 (17:59):
Oh yeah, don worry. We got him banned from some
bars because classic thing is drugging drinks Jesus Christ. So
We've spread the word and got flyers, and I'm pretty
sure he's banned I know for sure too bars, but
I think others as well.

Speaker 3 (18:16):
I'm not sure.

Speaker 2 (18:18):
Yeah, yeah, don't get me wrong. I will definitely go
out of my way to destroy a man's life.

Speaker 1 (18:26):
Yeah, And so I guess, like you know, with with
just like the absolute fucking horrifying shake going on, and
also with YouTube, like you know, people doing organizing outside
of the workplace to go after these people, it may
it makes it makes a lot of sense that, you know,
the unionization campaign has been going, and I wanted to
ask I want, well, I guess I wanted to talk
about sort of the vote and the stuff leading up

to the vote and the things that happened to YouTube
because oh my god.

Speaker 3 (18:54):
Yep, yeah, you know.

Speaker 4 (18:58):
We we had our vot on January seventeenth. There were
seven votes that were left unopened that were challenged by
Blue Star management. Three of them because the employees were
no longer active employees, and four of them for honestly
just like completely bullshit reasons, like they had to get

a new envelope.

Speaker 3 (19:20):
You know, they they were there before the vote, but.

Speaker 4 (19:23):
Like seven minutes after the cutoff that you know that
Blue Star wanted one person had to get a new ballot,
and you know, it's like, these are technicalities that really
should not prevent someone from having their vote counted. And
so we as DW Blue Star objected to six of
those challenges, the four that were very ticky tachi for

obvious reasons. And that was the weekend that was the
week of the big snow snowstorm.

Speaker 1 (19:50):
As well, we should talk for people who weren't in
Portland for this. Okay, So the city of Portland, this
is the thing I have heard. I am a Chicagoan,
so like I grew up in snowstorms, right the city
of Portland, Like this is I get, this is this
is this is this is the this is the the
Mia rants about the city of Portland for about five
minutes thing because, oh my fucking god, the city of
Portland does not actually substantively do any kind of like

street clearing. They don't do salt. They don't really I
think they might have like two snowplows. And this means that,
you know, when it, for example, snows, and then the
temperature goes back up and goes freezing, then it goes
back down below freezing, the entire city is covered in
a sheet of ice. And this lasts for days and
days and days and days. It is terrible. I came

into Portland's like in the middle of this, like you
you walk three steps and you're just going flying on
this ice. It is terrible. It is dangerous to drive,
It is dangerous to walk. It is it is dangerous
to scoot on your butt like terrible. I don't know,
Like if you did this in Chicago, if the city
of Chicago failed to clear the streets sufficiently that this

was happening, the government would be would fucking collapse in
a week.

Speaker 3 (20:59):
Portland, you deserve better.

Speaker 2 (21:02):
I personally would have preferred snow, like six feet of
snow over a half ice that inane the whole entire
city shuts down, and it's it is incredibly dangerous for sure,
and the city does not prepare for it. The city,
like landscape itself is not prepared for it. And yeah,

it's awful. I tripped and fell like three times within
a week, and my room and I were literally locked
into our house for days, like four maybe five days.
We could not leave. And on top of that, we
had to turn our water off, like it was a
whole night.

Speaker 1 (21:45):
There so many, so many people lost power, so many
people's like.

Speaker 2 (21:49):
Yeah, Roath and the NLRB building itself was shut down
for I don't remember how long, but it was shut down,
and so it was.

Speaker 4 (22:00):
It was shut down for most of that week leading
up to the vote. Our vote was on a Thursday,
and I think Thursday was the first day that the
actual office was open. There might have been some people
there on Wednesday, but the office itself was closed the
you know, Monday was Martin Luther King Junior Day, so
that it was close closed. But you know, I tried
to take you know, I in my little hatchback with

two two wheel drive hatchbag tried to drive across Portland
to take people to the office to turn in their
their ballots, and because we were doing a mail in ballot,
but some people had left it at the last minute,
you know, as human beings do.

Speaker 3 (22:36):
And we we.

Speaker 4 (22:39):
Get you know, we drive across this ice and snow.

Speaker 3 (22:43):
We get to the NLRB office.

Speaker 4 (22:45):
There's security guards in the lobby and they say, well,
you can't go up there as closed.

Speaker 3 (22:50):
I'm like, okay, what about tomorrow.

Speaker 4 (22:53):
They're like, we don't know, we'll be here, but we
can't guarantee that, you know, the nler.

Speaker 3 (22:57):
Office will be here.

Speaker 4 (22:58):
Yeah, And so I call up our rep at the NLRB,
Michael Moles, and I say, hey, like, what's the deal.

Speaker 3 (23:05):
When can we drop these off?

Speaker 4 (23:06):
And he goes, well, actually, you know, you can drop
them off when we're not there. You can slide them
under the door, you know, as long as it's the person,
you know, as long as the person whose ballot is
being turned in is turning in the ballot, like, you
can't send someone else to do it for you.

Speaker 3 (23:21):
So we go back up.

Speaker 4 (23:22):
On Wednesday and get some turned in and you know,
at this point, the people who wanted to turn in
on Tuesday.

Speaker 3 (23:28):
They've got you know, they've got work.

Speaker 4 (23:29):
They've got other things going on, they have to find
a time to get in. So we're going like Thursday morning,
Thursday afternoon, right before the vote. And that's why all
of these votes were you know, missing things or you
know a little bit late. Is because the whole city
was shut down for half a week, almost a week,
and things got you know, messed up.

Speaker 1 (23:53):
Yeah, Like the fact that the City of Portland doesn't
does not like refuses to buy snowplows and doesn't know
that you can use be juice is an anti ice thing.
Like the fact that the fact, the fact that the
fact that the city leadership is utterly incompetent like should
not should not be a reason why your union vote
doesn't your votes don't get counted.

Speaker 3 (24:12):
That is absolutely absurd.

Speaker 1 (24:14):
It's also like, you know, I mean, like okay, like
I get like the responsible thing to do dream this
storm was to close and a lot of places were
fucking open, and that is a disaster. But the fact
that the LRB is closed and all workers are still
having to go to work is like, just oh god.

Speaker 3 (24:37):

Speaker 4 (24:37):
And I emailed or I called Michael Males again, our
rep at the NLRB, and I was like, hey, like
this is kind of unprecedented, Like, can we push the
vote out like a week just to make sure that
everyone can safely get their ballots in. And he told me,
in no uncertain terms that we would not be doing that.

He gave me this, you know, long speech about how
hard it is, how difficult it is, how you know,
we have to get all these permissions. And you know,
I'm fairly new to all the legal avenues and legal
parts of union and stuff, and so I didn't really
have a counter argument. So I was just like, you know,
throw my hands up, Okay, whatever, we'll do our best.

Speaker 2 (25:19):
Well. At the time, people are literally risking their lives. Yeah,
and to drive cars. They're risking their cars, They're risking
their lives trying to get these votes in. So that's
why this appeal to these challenges are so important that
it's not fair if we don't count in a full
ice storm and the actual we have to account for that. Yeah,

So like all these things matter and should count, and
that's why we're really pushing that these votes be counted well.

Speaker 4 (25:51):
And two of the votes where people who had quit,
and one of those was was Lydia, and she was
straight up intimidated and quitting and you can lydia if
you want to talk about it.

Speaker 2 (26:03):
Oh my gosh. Okay, So they I use this word
pretty loosely, but the more I talk about the more
it's true. They forced me to quit, point blank period.
They pulled me into this meeting where at Blue Star
they have these every thirty day check ins and meetings

to talk about like how you're doing and how's the work,
et cetera. So on our ninety day check in, we
are promised a raise after working here for ninety days,
and but first we have to go through a whole meeting,
and this whole like spectrum one through five. They rate

you on different topics. So I come in and not
only is my manager there, but HR and our chef
is there. And last time I did in ninety day
that didn't happen. It was just my manager. So immediately
I'm like, what is going on? This is weird. And

we went through the normal stuff until chef interrupted and
brought up my schedule. So at the time I was
working two jobs, Blue Star and another bakery, And before
any of this I checked in with my managers and

chef to make sure that this was possible and okay
to put me from full time to part time at
Blue Star. And they were thrilled. They were like, oh,
that's so great for you. Congratulations. Yes, we can totally
work with you. This is not a problem at all.
I'm like, okay, great, awesome. And so they brought up

my schedule and they're like, so we're gonna change some
things with Red Kitchen and we're going to change production
times and we're going to bump everything up a couple hours.
Totally fine, Okay, I get it. And I said, I'm like, okay, well,
you know I work until one pm, so you know

I'm not available to be here until like two. And
apparently that was an issue because my schedule, my availability
is no longer working for them, which doesn't make sense
because a closing shift still exists. And I'm I told them,

I'm like, you can use me. I am part time,
you can use me for like four hours closing, Like
I am okay with that, and they shut me down.
Chef kind of clicked her teeth and was like, you know,
that's not really worth it for us, and what are
you doing over the holidays because this is right before

our Christmas break and I. I was kind of confused.
I was like, oh, nothing, I'm just at home. And
she's like, okay, well you should really take this time
to think about your future here with us, and like
kind of like stared at me, and I'm like what, Like,

I what do you mean? And she's like, you know,
we're changing some things around here, and we don't want
to get rid of you, we don't want to fire you,
but you should really think about your future here and
really leaned in and emphasized that and kind of like

everyone was kind of like looking at me as if like, hey,
we want you to quit, but we're not allowed to
like say anything like that. And I asked my manager.
I was like, it kind of sounds like you're not
giving me any options here. What am I supposed to

just leave? And they looked at each other and they
look back at me. You're like, you know, we can't
really say one thing or the other, so you know,
we need your decision by the first and I'm like what.
I It was very it was very tense. It was
very weird and awkward, and I was very confused because

I never thought my job was on the line. I
never thought it was gonna be jeopardized, and I kept
offering them different options. That was like put me in
front of house. You know, last year I was trained.
I was actually supposed to be a manager in our
other kitchen, but they kind of screwed me over on that.
That's a whole different story. Like I know how to

handle Purple Kitchen. Put me there, like I'm okay going
from one job immediately into here to save time. And
with every single option I was giving them, they shut
me down and would not work with me at all.
And then on top of that, they extended my ninety

day period, and from doing that, I was no longer
allowed to get a raise. And yeah, like you have
to finish ninety days and you get a raise, and
I'm like, period, that's the policy. Everybody knows that. But
because my ninety days was extended like probation period, I

was no longer allowed to get a raise.

Speaker 4 (31:35):
And what's funny is they extended my ninety days as well.
I can talk about that more later, but this is
it's just it's just odd because Red Kitchen, our kitchen,
which at that point was made up of I think
six people, all vocal union supporters, wore buttons every day.

Speaker 2 (31:51):
Yep, we were the most vocal people about it. We
wore our union buttons every day. We like everybody knows that, Like,
we were firm believers standing up for this union. And
that kind of segues into the furlough situation where they
all shut down our kitchen. They our whole entire team

are six people of vocal union supporters, suddenly no job.

Speaker 1 (32:19):
It's incredibly messed up, and we're going to come back
for more unbelievably messed up stuff after this ad break.

Speaker 3 (32:37):
And we're back.

Speaker 4 (32:39):
Going back to the votes that were challenged, The other
person who quit was one of the main organized She
was with her and one other person where the people
who kicked off all of the organizing at Blue Star,
and basically they changed around her schedule so much to

kind of force her into quitting. She was very stressed
with school and like just the way that they kept
messing with her made her quit. Basically, she was afraid
that she was going to be fired, so she went
ahead and quit. And so that was that other challenged vote.
But yeah, the furlough situation is wild. And I also

got my probation extended. I actually filed a unfairly reor
practice because of that, Because the reason they gave me
for extending my probation was that I was bringing the
their words on paper, bringing the vibe down by complaining
about working conditions. Bringing the vibe down by complaining about

working conditions, and.

Speaker 2 (33:50):
How ridiculous this company is. The third reasons where I'm
like this must be the Truman Show, like this is
not real. Where are the cameras well?

Speaker 4 (34:02):
And first of all, complaining about working conditions is a
federally protected act. Ye, I can do that and I
cannot be punished for that.

Speaker 3 (34:10):
It is against the law, which is why I filed
the ULP.

Speaker 4 (34:12):
Second of all, the reason I was complaining is because
they had taken us down from three to four people
opening shifts to two. And the way two people work, Yeah,
the way two people operates for opening shift in Red
Kitchen is one person is mixing the dough and loading
it into the fryer, and that is a constant thing,

like you mix batches for like four hours like on
like back to back to back to back to back,
and the other person has to stand at the end
of the conveyor belt and take the glazed bites off
of the conveyor belt and put them onto trays. This
is a non stop job. You cannot even walk away
for a few seconds. And when you know, typically, like

the best practice that was done the entire time I
was there to this was that you did not do
that position for more than an hour because it was
physically difficult to stand in one place like that and
do that and do those repetitive motions. And two, it's
like fucking psychological torture because you're in the corner of
this room, You're not speaking to anybody, You're literally just

staring at your own hands. I mean, it's it's not
like nobody likes to they call it catching. Nobody likes
to catch. And I was doing this for up to
three hours a day uninterrupted, and I have psiatic nerve
issues with my leg and I you know, I've made
them aware of this multiple multiple times. I cannot catch

for more than an hour at a time, and you
know what I was doing catching for three hours every day.

Speaker 1 (35:48):
So they're just trying to injure.

Speaker 3 (35:49):
So that's what I was, yes, and that's what I
was complaining about. I was saying, I'm in pain.

Speaker 4 (35:55):
I'm literally having to go on muscle relaxers every single
day because of the fact that this is having on
me physically, Like I I can't sleep at night because
my leg is so tense and it's in so much
pain from fucking catching these donuts and putting them on trays.

Speaker 3 (36:12):
It's insane.

Speaker 4 (36:14):
And so you know, they're yet they're penalizing me for
having the gall to voice the fact that what they're
doing is literally ruining my quality of life.

Speaker 2 (36:26):
Really and going off that every single issue we bring
up to management, they have the tone of like, well,
that sucks, that's a bummer, deal with it, and literally, yeah,
literally just like okay, and we're like, okay, fix it,
because we are human beings with nerves and bones and
we cannot stand on our feet for this long like

it's it's wild, it is.

Speaker 4 (36:53):
And you know that that kind of also segues into
the furlough thing that we were all very vocal on
union support. You know, I had filed at this point
two ulps because of the extended probation and because they
suspended me for three days for something that was absurd,

and I had filed two ulps, and this came like
right on the heels of that second ULP. They you know,
we had Christmas Day off and I had taken the
next day, the Tuesday off, so I was visiting family
in Dallas, and I believe everyone else had that Tuesday
off as well. And we come back on that Wednesday,

and you know, we're working a regular shift. About halfway
through the shift, they say, okay, you know, we're having
a red kitchen meeting. Everyone come into the office, which
that had never happened before.

Speaker 3 (37:49):
We never had an all kitchen meeting like that.

Speaker 4 (37:52):
They pull us in and you know, we're all looking
at each other on the way in like, oh fuck,
what are they going to do? Like are they going
to reduce our hours? Are they going to fire one
of us? You know what's happening? And we get in
there and head chef Stephanie Thornton says, okay, so you
know we've had an issue happen. What's happened is our

distributors have told us that they are returning a bunch
of our product.

Speaker 3 (38:16):
It's you know, some of it's expired, but most of.

Speaker 4 (38:18):
It is just fine, but it's nearing its expiration date,
so they're returning it. I'm saying that m okay, sounds fake,
but okay, And then they say, unfortunately, because of this,
because we don't have space in our freezer to continue
to put product in the freezer, to continue to make
product and put it in the freezer, we are having

to put you guys on indefinite furlough. You know, we
don't have a return to work date. We don't have
a plan for bringing you back. You know, we asked,
can we get you know, those of us who are
cross trained, can we work in other areas? Can you
cross train those of us who aren't, so that we
can work up front or work at a satellite store
you know there they are literally hiring for satellite stores.

But they furlowed us, and we were asking, can we
do these other things? And they said no, point blank no.
So all of a sudden, you know, six people who
had jobs, you know, a minute or two ago, All
of a sudden, we're facing For me personally, I'm facing homelessness.

Speaker 3 (39:22):
That's the reality, you know. And we have too.

Speaker 4 (39:27):
Our two shift leads, they are a couple and they
live together and like that is their entire income. And
it's just on a kind of more personal note, it's wild.
And maybe this is me being a little bit naive.
But it's wild to have spent months in company with
these people and have them pretend to care about me

and then have them do something that quite literally puts
my life in danger, especially because I had just signed
up for healthcare with them and I have multiple chronic
Illnes says, I have to go to doctors regularly, and
all of a sudden, I'm like, holy shit, my life
has completely changed in thirty seconds.

Speaker 1 (40:09):
You know this is the day after Christmas?

Speaker 3 (40:14):
What? Yeah, the day after Christmas.

Speaker 4 (40:16):
We were giving two days notice, Jesus said, in two
days starting on January first. You don't have a job,
and we don't know how long, but you know, we'll
let you know if we ever are going to do
production again, and we can bring you back, even just
for a little bit, which they didn't. They started up
production again and we were not told or called in

or anything.

Speaker 2 (40:38):
So I want to touch a little more on our
shift leads. Per second. Yes, there are a couple. They
live together, but much like then, they are basically they're
facing houselessness as well. And luckily they do have another
roommate who can somewhat cover them, but that can't last forever. Yeah,

and just the other day, I had to run them groceries.
They can't afford anything, and it's it's a huge buck
over for them because they love, they are so passionate
about this job and like they rely heavily on it,

and they got their pay raises and their higher positions
and more responsibilities, and to be so betrayed like that
from a company quite literally destroyed them. Our shift lead
he had a full breakdown and stormed out and walked out,

and it affected them so heavily and so emotionally and
so mentally, and they keep trying to, you know, find
other jobs, and you know, still in contact. Just yesterday
they sent me a screenshot of them talking to chef

and being like, hey, is there any updates? Is there
you know, anyway we can come get our job back.
Is you know we're still waiting for you to tell
us literally anything And Chef said, oh, we don't know.
We can't give you an answer right now, and just
kind of brushed it off.

Speaker 4 (42:25):
And one thing that's particularly insulting is that they ended
this meeting with us where they were telling us we
were losing our jobs by giving us a sheet of
paper on how to file for unemployment in Oregon. And
the thing with an indefinite furlough, if you don't have
a return to work date, then you have to go

you have to jump through the hoops of applying for
jobs while you're like in order to get unemployment. So like,
if you're if you have a return to work date
and it's within four weeks of the you know, the
day that you got furloughed, you can get unemployment for
that time.

Speaker 3 (43:01):
And you don't. You can just hang out and get unemployment.

Speaker 4 (43:05):
If you don't have a return to work date, you
have to treat it as a layoff and you have
to be making a like conscious efforts to job hunt
every single week. You have to record those efforts. If
you get an interview, you have to take it. If
you get a position offered to you, you have to
take it, and it has to be in the field
that you got that you got furloughed from. And there's

all these very specific rules and it just makes it
incredibly difficult.

Speaker 3 (43:30):
You know, all these hoops you have to jump through.

Speaker 4 (43:33):
It's dehumanizing, it's fucked up, and it's insulting.

Speaker 2 (43:37):
There was no support other than that if you need
that support, there's no severance package. There was no like
short in the meeting, they're like, yeah, sorry, guys, this sucks,
but like it just didn't feel real, Like this whole
situation was not empathetic at all, and like all.

Speaker 1 (43:56):
Theos and you know, you could tell their excuses bullshit
because like okay, like let let let's say what they
were saying was real that like, okay, they got a
bunch of stuff return and they don't have room in
their freezers. It's been a month. They should now, there's
no way that they now still do not have room
in their freezers.

Speaker 4 (44:14):
Like what Well, and here's the here's the kicker is
that we were for maybe them a month, maybe over
a month really since we filed the union petition, since
we handed them the petition, we had ramped up production
even though we were in the slow season and we
were not actually like the bites that we were making

were not ordered by anyone. We were just putting. We
were making extra to put in the freezer.

Speaker 2 (44:44):
Not only the freezer, but they rented a whole entire warehouse.
We haven't the strategy.

Speaker 4 (44:52):
Yeah, so that they they did this, you know, I
don't want to say they did this on purpose, but
it is it might be suspicious to me that they're
that there bill up these these you know bites in
the freezer when they didn't need them, when they didn't.

Speaker 3 (45:05):
Have orders for them, and now all of a sudden,
oh we don't have room in the freezer. We have
to let you go, you know.

Speaker 2 (45:11):
Yeah, Yeah, oddly convenient.

Speaker 3 (45:14):
It is. It is.

Speaker 4 (45:15):
And that really ramped up when they when we gave
them the union petition November seventeenth.

Speaker 1 (45:21):
Yeah, which is just really very blatant retaliation.

Speaker 3 (45:26):
Yeah, yeah, And I.

Speaker 4 (45:30):
Have filed an unfair labor practice for it's called what
they call a lockout for the you know us being furloughed,
and it, like you said, it really is blatant, especially
given that, you know, even walking into that meeting, all
of us were wearing our union buttons. I just why
would you lay off an entire department, especially when that

department is what is keeping your business afloat, Like that
is the money maker for Blue Stars, those wholesale.

Speaker 2 (45:58):
Bites, and we've been told that all the time. It's
like these donut bites make the money, So make that
makes sense. Then why are you shutting down that money
maker and the other kitchen and front of house are like,
are still there, still doing production? Like not touched by

this at all.

Speaker 4 (46:21):

Speaker 1 (46:22):
And that's one of these things you get with employers
all the time where it's like, well, okay, so employers
very very clearly and obviously know where the money is made.
They know exactly where the money is made, literally up
until the moments that you start asking from more of
the money you're making them, at which point suddenly like,
oh who knows where money comes from?

Speaker 2 (46:41):
Yeah, yeah, you have no money, even though the CEO
has like at least three teslas.

Speaker 1 (46:47):
Totally oh my god.

Speaker 4 (46:50):
Yeah, like Katie Pope can't take a little bit of
a pay cut so that you know, we can all
keep our jobs and you know, survive.

Speaker 3 (46:57):
It's wild.

Speaker 1 (46:59):
Yeah. And and I mean this is one of the
other things too, is that like businesses, you know, this
is this is the the way capitalism works, is that
businesses would rather fucking lose money than have their employees
have slightly like not be intobilitating pain, not be sick,
and get slightly more money.

Speaker 2 (47:20):

Speaker 4 (47:23):
It is crazy to me because this whole you know,
they're they're hiring all these lawyers to to you know,
you know, handle the union stuff, and I'm like, you
shut down Red Kitchen, you hire these lawyers, You're doing
all these efforts, and I'm like, you would have saved
so much money if you just recognize our fucking union.

Speaker 3 (47:41):
Like that's how easy it is, you know.

Speaker 2 (47:44):
And not only that, we have what five shops in Portland,
we have a shop in la as well, Los Angeles
where prices are extravagant, Like they have money. We know
they have money, and we're honestly at the point, I'm
at the point of show me your books, show me,

prove to me that you do not have this money,
because then that will be a different discussion. Like it's
just it's frustrating. It's typical corporate business and I'm over it.
And the I'm over it for how they treated me.
I'm over how they treat my friends, my team. It's

it's ridiculous and they should know better, honestly.

Speaker 1 (48:31):
Yeah. Yeah, So is there anything else that you two
want to make sure you get in?

Speaker 3 (48:37):
Maybe just the gofund me?

Speaker 1 (48:40):
Yeah yeah? How can how can people support you support
the union?

Speaker 2 (48:45):

Speaker 4 (48:45):
So we have a go fund me setup for the
six furload workers to provide a month's worth of income
two weeks for the employees who quit early, and that
is it's called help loose our employees, fighting investing. And
right now we're at just under one thousand dollars. Our
goal for all six of those people's incomes for a

month is fifteen thousand, just under sixteen thousand. You know,
I don't know if we'll ever reach that goal, but
you know, the as much as we can get is
great because right now, you know, I'm surviving on cereal.
I know that the shift leads we were talking about earlier.
You know, they're getting groceries from lydia. People are struggling.

Speaker 2 (49:26):
Yeah, I was definitely in my survivor era on rice
and beans. It was it's really tough, and you know,
it is a big goal, realistically it is. But you know,
not to sound desperate or anything, but truly, every little
bit helps. If you can really only afford five or
ten bucks, we'll take it. That is, we're so grateful

for anything, and it's it's people's lives. It's literally people's lives.
Multiple people are facing not being able to have a
roof over their head because of this, So truly any
little bit helps.

Speaker 1 (50:04):
Yeah, so please go help them out. I I don't know.

Speaker 3 (50:09):
This it it's.

Speaker 1 (50:12):
Just really really brutal too. And especially like again, like
this is also a fucking terrible time, Like there's there's
never a good time to like be at risk of
losing your home. Uh, winter is especially fucking bad for that.
There are yeah, so there there's so many. There are
so many sort of terrible compounding things that these union
that these union busting companies are sort of relying on

to screw over and intimidate and hurt the people who
make them all their fucking money.

Speaker 3 (50:41):
So well, and that's what it did.

Speaker 4 (50:43):
It scared a lot of people into unfortunately voting no.
It scared a lot of people who were really involved,
you know, in the organizing process to step back and
and you know, not respond to our text messages and
not continue to advocate for the union. It you know
that us getting furloughed really fucked with our whole union campaign.

Speaker 1 (51:03):
So yeah, go go go give go, go, give these
workers your supports they really need it, and yeah go
you know, and one thing again like that needs to
sort of we need to sort of emphasize is that
this is illegal. They cannot fucking they legally cannot do
this but you know this is this is one of
the things that is fucking hard about union organizing is

that the law, assuming the law does like ever, fucking
catch up to these people. It takes time.

Speaker 2 (51:33):
And yeah, there is one little thing I do want
to make sure people know about because we just found
this out pretty recently while we were doing shop visits.
They have jars for tips that say tips are shared
with the kitchen.

Speaker 3 (51:48):
They're not. Yeah, that's not true. This is not true.

Speaker 2 (51:52):
We saw no tips and there was an instance where
we accidentally got tips, and one by one we were
sent to the back to sign a form saying this
was an accident. You are not gain tips. Sign this,
and they took our tips away. It's not fair. And

on top of that, they're lying to the public. They're
lying to their customers that kitchen is gain tips when
we're not.

Speaker 4 (52:19):
Yeah, and I will say, in addition to the GoFundMe,
we do have you know, if you're not able to
support monetarily, we do have a Twitter and an Instagram
where we post updates if you want to follow along
with our progress and see, you know, how our election
goes and everything. It's just on both Twitter and or
excuse me x and Instagram. It is at DWU Underscore

Blue Star.

Speaker 1 (52:44):
So yeah, well we'll we'll have links to all this
out of the description awesome.

Speaker 2 (52:47):
Word of mouth is really the biggest thing, even going
off again, like, if you can't support us financially, you
can just share the GoFundMe through friends, family, whoever, and
just it out there.

Speaker 1 (53:01):
Yeah, and so go go go do that. Yeah, go
help any way you can. And yeah, go go go
fight your own bosses because they're screwing yous, like screwing
you in very similar ways. What's happening here? Two? Yeah,
and this is the spinnaket happen here. You can find
us at Twitter and Instagram at happen here pod and
you can find more Clozobdia shows at closeid Media. Yeah

go go go into the world and make life worse
for people who do terrible stuff.

Speaker 2 (53:35):
It could happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.

Speaker 3 (53:38):
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool Zonemedia dot com, or check us out on the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Speaker 2 (53:47):
You can find sources for it could Happen Here. Updated
monthly at cool zonemedia dot com Slash Sources thanks for listening.

It Could Happen Here News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On


Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links


Popular Podcasts

BG2Pod with Brad Gerstner and Bill Gurley

BG2Pod with Brad Gerstner and Bill Gurley

Open Source bi-weekly conversation with Brad Gerstner (@altcap) & Bill Gurley (@bgurley) on all things tech, markets, investing & capitalism

Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie

If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.