Workers at Tartine Bakery in the Mission, where there are long lines for bread and pastries, say they want “a seat at the table.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Union vote at Tartine set for March

Company founders decline to accept signed cards collected by employees

Employees at Tartine Bakery are expected to vote in March on whether or not to unionize.

Last week, employees delivered letters to their managers requesting immediate recognition of their right to unionize — kicking off the legal steps and negotiations that could lead to the workforce becoming unionized.

Employees working with The International Longshore and Warehouse Union gathered at least 146 signed cards in favor of organizing, a first step in the unionization process.

The popular bakery, which recently opened locations in Seoul, South Korea and Los Angeles, has roughly 200 employees in the Bay Area, according to ILWU organizer Agustin Ramirez.

On Monday, however, Tartine founders sent a letter to employees stating they would not recognize the ILWU’s card process, prompting the ILWU to request an election with the National Labor Relations Board later that day.

The letter from Tartine owners said adhering to the union’s card process would not give employees enough time to educate themselves before making a decision.

“If the union and its supporters truly care about your welfare and Tartine, let them show it by providing Tartine employees with the respect of having ample time to become fully informed before any vote is initiated,” the letter read.

Tartine co-founders Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson and Chief Operations Officer Christopher Jordan stated they have hired “a team of expert consultants” to educate themselves and staff on the process.

Ramirez referred to the team as anti-union consultants.

According to John Lapp, a barista at Tartine Manufactory in the Mission who has been with the company for over three years, employees became inspired to unionize after Anchor Brewing Company workers joined ILWU last year.

“We don’t have any demands, other than a seat at the table,” said Lapp, who says his concerns are mainly to do with lack of structure within management across locations.

“We need to have management that speaks Spanish at all locations,” said Lapp, who said there are many Spanish speakers who can’t easily communicate with their managers.

Other employees have requested better pay and more consistent scheduling. Lapp said some employees work three or four jobs or commute from as far as Stockton.

If employees vote to unionize, which will require a simple majority, they will form a bargaining committee and begin contract negotiations before reaching a final agreement.

cbrowning@sfexaminer.com

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