Remo Borracchini’s bakery has been around since 1922, and when it comes to workers’ rights, Remo thinks it’s still 1922. If you work there, you can forget about your legally-mandated 10 minute breaks, unless you are one of the favored few employees who are close to the Borracchini family. Need to use the bathroom? If the store is busy, you might just have to hold it for up to four hours until the unpaid lunch period or until quitting time.
SeaSol member Gladys worked under these conditions for nine years. Like many of her co-workers, she talked about wanting to be allowed to take her breaks, but knew that if she took a stand for her rights, Remo would fire her. Once, she had to sit down for 17 minutes due to a terrible headache. When Remo saw this on his surveillance tapes (yes, he watches his employees on surveillance tapes), she was reprimanded for it.
Finally, when Gladys suffered an on-the-job injury and Remo wanted her to cover it up, she took a stand, informing Washington State Labor & Industries about her injury and claiming her worker’s compensation. After this, Remo retaliated by cutting Gladys’s hours, and later fired her on a flimsy excuse involving an improperly wrapped order. Remo later made up the false claim that he had fired Gladys for being rude to a customer.
Since Gladys was not allowed to take her 20 minutes per day (that’s 10 minutes for every four hours) of legally-mandated paid break time, that means she was putting in an extra 20 minutes of work each day. From nine years of working without breaks, we calculated that Gladys was owed several thousand dollars for that extra working time.
When Gladys presented our demand to Remo, surrounded by dozens of SeaSol members, he refused to even look at her. Afterwards, out of sight of Remo’s cameras, his employees thanked us.
A Very Borracchini Response
Instead of admitting their mistakes, and trying to make amends, the Borracchinis did everything in their power to bully their former employee into silence. They enlisted the support of their friends and managers to call and email death threats to Gladys and SeaSol. They called on right wing talk show host Dori Monson (the same man who has publicly declared that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a cult) to denounce Gladys and her supporters as “thugs”. Monson called on his thousands of listeners to descend on Borracchini’s to counter SeaSol’s first planned picket line on the Saturday before Easter.
The result was underwhelming. Roughly 40 management supporters – mostly Borracchini family members, friends, and managers – gathered in the parking lot to counter-protest against at least 80 SeaSol picketers. To make up for their small numbers, management supporters screamed abuse at picketers – calling them “bitch,” “faggot,” and everything else they could think of. When the insults failed to incite the SeaSol picketers, Remo Borracchini’s middle-aged nephew, a company executive, punched a woman in the face. After this, the police closed off the entrance to the bakery’s driveway as a crime scene, most management supporters withdrew from the area around the SeaSol crowd, and the picket continued until its scheduled ending time. Very few customers entered the bakery during the action.
In spite of management’s best efforts, they have failed to silence Gladys. Their threats, violence, and media smear campaign have only increased SeaSol’s determination and encouraged even more former Borracchini’s employees to speak out against this abusive boss.
The Fight Continues
During the pre-Easter picket, Gladys announced that she would happily yield all of the back pay Borrachini’s owed her to her charity of choice, St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Two days later, Borracchini’s management announced their first major concession: they would be donating $10,000 to St Jude’s. However, they would not be putting Gladys’s name on the donation, nor had they instituted a decent break policy.
Given the company’s disgusting actions in response to our campaign, we cannot be satisfied with this gesture. We want Gladys’s name added onto the donation, and we will continue our fight until all Borracchini’s employees get their scheduled 10-minute breaks every four hours.