Firings lead to union effort at Dave’s Killer Bread

FIRED WORKERS UNITE: A rash of worker firings at Dave’s Killer Bread is driving some workers to seek unionization. Above, Bakers Local 114 Secretary-Treasurer Terry Lansing (left) stands with Alex Martinez, Jacob Adams, Jordan Reece, and Dan Turner. The four are among six fired workers who have been named thus far in charges that are pending investigation by the National Labor Relations Board.

By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor

[UPDATED BELOW]

The story of Dave’s Killer Bread is well-known in Oregon. Printed on every bread bag, it’s a tale of redemption. Fresh out of prison and looking back on a 20-year criminal history, ex-con Dave Dahl is given a second chance by his brother, Glenn Dahl. Born again as a baker in the bread business their father founded, Dave develops organic bread recipes with cheeky names like “Good Seed” and “Blues Bread,” and hawks them at Portland farmers markets under the slogan, “Just Say No to bread on drugs!”

People pay $5 a loaf not just because Dave’s is great bread, but because they have good will toward the brand founder and his story.

But for a growing roster of ex-employees, that feel-good narrative may be getting a little stale. Workers interviewed for this story say the company’s rapid expansion is changing the character of what once felt like a family-run business. Last June, the company hired a professional manager, and began cleaning house at the Milwaukie, Oregon, bakery. Dozens of workers — many of them ex-cons given their own second chances by Dave Dahl — were terminated. Those who remained were afraid for their jobs, and one of them made contact with Bakers Local 114, which represents workers at competing bakeries like Franz and Kroger.

Dave’s pays above average for a nonunion bakery, says Local 114 Secretary-Treasurer Terry Lansing, but still at least $3 per hour less than union workers at competing bakeries. And the union bakers have greater job security and better benefits.

As the wave of firings got under way at Dave’s, several workers talked about calling the union, but it was Dan Turner who showed up at Local 114’s office on Nov. 12, telling Lansing it was time for the union to get involved.

Turner, 48, is also an ex-con, and heard about Dave’s from Jacob Adams, a friend from prison. In fact, about a third of the company’s 260 employees are felons. Employing ex-offenders — and buying grain from local farmers — has made Dave’s Killer Bread a favorite of local politicians and business groups.

The company may employ ex-offenders for altruistic reasons, but there are also sweeteners. A federal tax credit reimburses companies for up to 40 percent of the wages of felons hired within a year of their release — up to $2,400 per hire.

Hired in July 2010 to bag bread at $10 an hour, Turner saw a company in the grip of growing pains. NatureBake, the company Dave’s late father founded, had about 30 employees when Dave joined it in 2004. But after the Dave’s Killer Bread brand debuted at the Portland Farmers Market in August 2005, the company began rising like fast-acting yeast. By April 2010, it had over 120 employees. [Today it has over 260.]

Turner, one month on the job, contacted Local 114 to see if the union might bring order to what he saw as chaos in pay policies and workplace rules. But it didn’t seem to Lansing at that time that worker union support was broad enough to succeed, given what he knew about the company.

 

Past is prelude

Back in 2006, NatureBake had been located just 14 blocks from the union’s Northeast Portland office. Local 114 president Georgene Barragan got a job there, with the intent of spreading the union gospel and furthering its mission of organizing all bakery workers. But it was not to be. On her first day on the job, an engineer at NatureBake who used to work at a union bakery recognized her and went up to give her a hug. Barragan’s cover was blown, and Glenn fired her on the spot.

Then in June 2008, an unemployed baker who formerly worked at the unionized Kroger bakery went to apply for a job at Dave’s Killer Bread, wearing a Kroger jacket. Glenn ascertained that he’d been a union member, asked him if he knew Georgene Barragan, and ordered him off the property. This time, Local 114 filed an unfair labor practice charge: It’s illegal to discriminate against an applicant because of current or former union affiliation. Local 114 won the case when the company agreed to post a notice for 60 days and offered the worker a job. But the worker opted not to work where he felt he was unwanted.

So when Turner first contacted him, Lansing thought it’d be tough to unionize Dave’s.

But Turner stayed on at the company, and worked his way into a $17-an-hour job driving a bread truck. When an off-the-job injury sidelined him temporarily, the company gave him a light-duty job in the office. He became a trusted employee, and developed a rapport with the owners. He was given keys to the office and a company gas card, and sometimes was given a company credit card.

But by the fall of 2011, Turner says worsening conditions at the company drove him to seek out the union again. Employees were given a $2-an-hour raise, but lost their customary bonuses in the bargain. Pay raises were based on “reviews,” but whether, how, and when reviews occurred were up to the manager’s discretion, and workers would wait months for promised reviews. New employees would sometimes come in at higher pay rates than experienced employees, and the seeming randomness of the pay system contributed to an impression of management favoritism.

At the company — which won the 2011 Oregon Ethics in Business Award for its “dedication to hiring and mentoring ex-convicts,” and “constant focus on employee well-being”— employee rules were frequently changed, and workers were disciplined under a new “point system” which they didn’t understand or have an opportunity to appeal. New hires now were provided by a temp agency, All Star Labor & Staffing, and didn’t become employees of Dave’s for 90 days. And now employees were being fired in growing numbers. They needed help, Turner told Lansing.

Lansing interviewed several fired workers and says he found a pattern: It was the squeaky wheels — the assertive ones who spoke up or complained — who were being fired, for what seemed to him like trivial or manufactured infractions.

Mixing room worker Alex Martinez — who’d been a union member at Union Pacific railroad and in Iron Workers Local 29 — complained about management favoritism, an inflexible time clock point system, and having to wait for reviews to get a raise. He told co-workers it would not be like that if they had a union. Then managers started scrutinizing his breaks. He was fired Sept. 19 when car trouble made him 20 minutes late, despite having called in about it.

Lead mixer Jacob Adams — who’d fallen in love with the company after serving time for burglary and bank robbery — grew disillusioned by fall 2011, and complained to managers that his crew members weren’t getting their reviews. A week later, he was accused of uttering a racial epithet and throwing a mixing bowl, both of which he denies.

Lansing offered to represent Adams in pursuing an unemployment claim.

In Oregon, workers who quit or are fired for just cause don’t normally qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, but if a state adjudicator finds that there were extenuating circumstances or they were fired through no fault of their own, they may qualify. Employers sometimes contest the claim because they feel a worker was justly fired and doesn’t deserve benefits; they also have an economic incentive to oppose it, because unemployment insurance is “experience rated,” meaning employers who terminate a lot of employees pay a higher premium. When an unemployment claim is contested, the determination is made by an administrative law judge, usually after a hearing conducted by telephone.

When Lansing joined in the Jan. 9 phone hearing for Jacob Adams, it took the company by surprise; Glenn Dahl joined the call.

The next time Lansing took part in such a hearing, for fired worker Jarrell Bronson, Dave’s Killer Bread was represented by an attorney from the nationally-known employer-side labor law firm Fisher & Phillips.

Both workers were awarded unemployment benefits.

But fear was thick at Dave’s Killer Bread among workers, Lansing says, and firings continued: An informal count by current and ex-employees at one union meeting produced the names of 23 workers who’d been fired since the summer — roughly one in 10 people employed at Dave’s Killer Bread.

 

Coming out as a union supporter

In February, Lansing decided to pursue an unusual strategy. Normally, because employers tend to fight unionization, union organizing campaigns operate clandestinely at first, gathering a critical mass of worker support while trying to avoid the attention (and ire) of management. But at Dave’s, workers were being fired at such a rate that Lansing felt something had to be done to protect union supporters. It’s illegal for an employer to fire a worker for aiding a union campaign, but Lansing has learned the hard way that it happens quite often. Employers who don’t want a union will fire union supporters using some other reason as a pretext, and then escape legal repercussions by telling the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) they didn’t know those workers were union supporters. If workers can’t prove managers knew they were union supporters, they lose their cases — and their right to back pay and reinstatement.

So Lansing decided to make it impossible for Dave’s Killer Bread to deny that it knew. He began writing letters to Glenn Dahl, identifying specific workers as union supporters.

Dan Turner was the first to be identified, in a Feb. 2 letter.

The following day, Lansing went to the NLRB and filed two charges, alleging that Dave’s Killer Bread violated federal labor law both when it installed cameras in the lunchroom and smoking area, and when it fired employees Jacob Adams and Teresa Chaney. The charge was not that Dave’s fired the workers for union activity, but for speaking out, and sticking up for co-workers — which are also protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

On Feb. 7, Lansing wrote to Glenn Dahl inviting him to discuss the possibility of card-check union recognition, a less adversarial method of unionizing, in which workers sign union cards if they want to join, and the employer recognizes the union if a majority sign the cards. Dahl declined the offer by letter the following day. [See Lansing's reply to that here.]

More NLRB charges followed. Three of the charges alleged unlawful terminations, and another called out the company for prohibiting employees from talking about Local 114 while at work, and for new rules prohibiting employees from posting items on the employee bulletin board without prior authorization — after some workers posted union business cards on the board.

Several days after Turner was outed as a union supporter, he was asked to turn in his office keys. In the weeks that followed, he began to feel like he had a target on his back, and he says he was written up for nitpicky infractions.

Dan Turner

But Glenn Dahl had said he respected his employees’ right to a union, and Turner took him at his word. On Feb. 24, Turner went to meet with Dahl. Glenn Dahl owns a 51 percent share of the privately-held business NatureBake, which he bought from his father in 1988; Glenn’s son Shobi and his brother Dave own the remainder. NatureBake also does business as Dave’s Killer Bread.

“You should have talked to me before you went to the union,” Turner says Glenn Dahl told him. Turner told Glenn his reasons for supporting the union. Glenn asked Turner to name three things he could improve about the business, and to give him another chance, just as Turner had been given a chance. Turner’s suggestion: Glenn could let the union come into the plant for one day to talk to workers.

Five days after the meeting with Glenn Dahl, Turner was ordered to report to the office. There, his manager, a human resources employee, and Shobi Dahl confronted him, accusing him of stealing something off a loading dock at Unified Grocers. Turner says he was never told what it was he was alleged to have stolen. But he was suspended without pay, pending investigation. He learned he was fired on March 7.

Clackamas County Sheriff’s office has no recent report of theft at that location, nor were charges filed with the police.

After he was fired, Turner got a letter saying that his health benefits had been terminated effective the day he was suspended.

Turner says it’s easy to try to pin such accusations on a felon, but insists he’s innocent.

“I had a lot to lose,” he tells the Labor Press. Since his release from federal prison in 2006, he’s been rebuilding his life. A former drug addict, he’s been attending Clark College studying to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He married Amanda Thompson, and they bought a house last year. She works for the City of Vancouver, where she’s a member of AFSCME, and a former union steward with Office and Professional Employees Local 11. At one point, Turner recalls, she worried that he’d lose his job if he got active in a union campaign.

“I really believed they needed a union at Dave’s,” Turner tells the Labor Press. “They still do.”

 

The company’s response

“We know that the Bakery Confectionery Tobacco and Grain Millers would like to form a union at NatureBake and Dave’s Killer Bread to represent some of our employees, and we respect our employees’ rights to unionize,” says Shobi Dahl.

Dahl wouldn’t say, however, whether the company is discouraging workers from unionizing or whether it intends to employ union avoidance consultants. Nor would he divulge the company’s disciplinary and pay policies, or comment on specifics about the fired employees. A company media policy forbids employees to talk to reporters without authorization, and Dahl declined to make any employees available for interview with authorization.

He said he was unaware if the company is receiving tax credits for hiring felons, but said employing them fits the company’s mission, which is to make the world a better place one loaf of bread at a time.

The NLRB is investigating seven charges against Dave’s Killer Bread.

Dave’s Killer Bread is sold in eight states, at retailers including Costco, WinCo Foods, New Seasons, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Fred Meyer.

[UPDATE 4/23/12: The company has written a response to this article, signed by owners Glenn, Dave, and Shobi Dahl. The response is viewable here.]

41 Responses to Firings lead to union effort at Dave’s Killer Bread

  1. Byron Kirkpatrick

    I loved working at Daves killler bread. I busted my but there and never missed a day, until i was very ill. couldn’t even move. Called Ronnie first thing and told him, he told me to call the daves killer bread hotline and leave a message there also. I did. Next day in the evening 14hrs before my shift wasn’t feeling any better, and spoke with Ronnie again. He said its ok, feel better and make sure you get a Dr. note, and call the hotline again. So i did. Next day I got fired. After it was ok’d. The new official reason was because i did not inform my temp agency that i was gonna miss work. Ronnie told a group of us ” when your a temp you call the temp agency, when your a temp to hire or a hired employee you call the daves hotline and me personally, he said ” you do not have to call me (Ronnie) but it is a nice curtosy so i know that your gonna miss prior to getting to work and listening to the hotline.

    I am very dissapointed with how All of this was handled. I would of gladly went into work to get sent right back home if he would of said something of the sorts. But fact of the matter he said it was “ok, bring a dr. note”.

    Byron Kirkpatrick

  2. Cheryl Krause

    Well, dang it. I love that bread. But, as with anything that you think is good, you better look again. I will no longer purchase Dave’s Killer Bread and will spread the word that they are unjust to their employees and anti-union. I wonder what his father would think now. As I continue to say, greed takes over all. What a shame.

  3. Matt Weatheral

    I worked at DKB for 2 years and loved working there i was one of the employees that would speak my mind about problems going on in the bakery and they canned me. they need to unionize. also there are way to many favorites if your not a kiss ass you will never become a supervisor even if you are the most qualified. all in all they need to learn to treat employees that give them everything they got day in and day out with respect.

  4. Michelle Smith

    I work at Dave’s for 2 years worked all the way up to a supervisor position. After about 7 months as being a supervisor they demoted me due to a hear say incident and the problem was never investigated fully to get a true understanding of the situation. After that had happened i looked for a new job and once i had received the notification that i was just going to be waiting for my background to clear to start i gave my 2 weeks and on that day they let me go with paying me 80 hours of pay due to the position and the other place i was going to be working which i will not name due to the nature.
    I loved Dave’s and then once they made all the changes there was no moral that is what i loved about the place was the moral it used to be a family business and it is no longer that there is no opportunity to advance which if you work hard you should have that choice. I think that everyone should stand for what they believe in and I respect all of you greatly. KEEP IT UP

  5. I was employed at Daves Killer Bread for 2 years back when it was in NE Portland. There were about 20 or so of us and I was one of 2 female baker helpers, the other his girlfriend. It was a crew of almost all men. It was at times a very uncomfortable place to work as a woman. I’ve many a story. But I was fired as well, for unknown reasons and was eligible for unemployment insurance for several years after. I have never purchased his bread after I was dismissed.

  6. Oh no!! Not Dave’s Killer Bread. It is without a doubt the best bread. Too bad it can’t be the best employer. Good bye DKB. I will pass the word. Hate favoritism, fair labor practices for all.

  7. All companies should be fair to all employees! You cannot take advantage of a person because they might be an ex-con. No more Dave’s bread for me!

  8. Let’s hold on a minute before we launch into a boycott, folks. Let’s instead identify ourselves as hardcore Dave’s Killer Bread eaters who support workers’ rights. If the workers know they can count on us to support them, they will be more encouraged to look out for each other and make things better through their union. If they tell us to boycott, then Hell Yes, let’s boycott, and more than that besides. All for one and one for all!

  9. Robert Gillis

    Wow! Really? I work a DKB and Iam very grateful to have a job there I have been there for 7 months now and they have done nothing but good things for me. Sure I have had to work for it. But isn’t that what it’s about? I would never want the union in there I personally think it I’d a bad idea. Sure they have grown fast and with that comes growing pains. I don’t know these people’s story’s that have been let go. It’s none of my buisness. But for me and the core group of people I work with we love our company and would do anything for it. I believe I owe Dave’s killer bread for the second chance they have givin me to become a productive member of society and to give back to a community that I did nothing but take from for many years. Bottom line people is I think we are only hearing one side of the story here. I truly believe that if you asked people that still work there that they would say they love there company too and that they are damn proud to be a part of something so positive in the community and on a personal level. Iam just sayin

    • Give it 3 more months until you too get fired…your attitude will change….without union protection no one is safe.

    • Of course their going to say they love their company because at this point they are afraid of losing their job. I’ll share my story with you. I’m sure they all will. Would you like to go have coffee-n-talk with a couple of us?

  10. I whole heartedly agree with Bill Bradley!

  11. I’ve worked at Dave’s killer bread for almost two years now, I have witnessed a substantial amount people come and go for various reasons what i have noticed is that some people didn’t think it was FAIR that they got fired, some of the same people who would call off nearly every single day some that would spend a hour Chatting it up with some fellow co-workers for hours ignoring their job duties and some people who were hard workers but due to employee polices lost their job due to too many work place errors on their part. the company has been great to me I have seizures and sometimes require a unforeseen time off however the company told me to take care of my self and my job will be waiting for me when i get back, Dave Dahl himself had given me a ride home one time which was 30 miles out of his way yet he did so anyway, the company even provides it workers with free food, coffee, and beverages. I love my job and do it with pride its unfortunate that some people have to try and ruin a good thing because they didn’t feel their termination was fair, the job market is rough and if your not willing to do whats asked of you at a company do not be surprised when that last check hits your mailbox

  12. Organize folks. When Dave brings in a nationally recognized union busting law firm (Fisher & Phillips), you got to know their (Dave’s) intent.

    Dave’s actions are counter to their message.

    Despicable.

  13. Hello All. The Union organizing team from NatureBake / Dave’s Killer Bread is not asking for a boycott. A lot of good people work there and they do produce a good product. Workers create the product not the owners. They need their jobs. But they are totally employed at will and the firings continue. I know of at least three more in the past four weeks. They are just now learning about being Union, but the firings are scaring them. We need to get the word to them – that only by being Union with a contract can they protect their jobs. The owners apparently foster a myth that ex-cons are not allowed to be Union and they will lose their job if the workers go Union. The owners were asked about this at an anti-union employee meeting and they did not deny or correct the myth. This place gets tax dollars for each ex-con, so indiscriminate turn-over means more money from the government. The only way the workers can protect their jobs and put an end to the firings is to organize into a Union and negotiate a decent contract. That is our goal. Our Bakers Union Local 114 is here to help them. They deserve to be treated fairly and with respect like we fight for in our Union bakeries. United we Stand.

  14. This all feels a bit one sided to me. I am not ready to stop supporting this company with such a small amount of information and I’m disappointed that people are so quick to do so. I’ve been alive long enough to know that there are two sides to every story and usually media doesn’t bother telling them.

    • You are aware this is a pro-labor publication, right? Furthermore, if you want the other side of the story, pick up and mainstream paper to get the employers’ sides of their stories. It’s true, we should always take it upon ourselves to fully investigate what we read, to not just believe anything. I have been around long enough, on the other hand, to know that employers lie through their teeth whenever it suits their interests, especially regarding control (of the workplace and workers) and profits. “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” Our interests and needs as working people are fundamentally at odds with the desires of employers, their side of the story is irrelevant, as I see it, because employers are full of lies, especially when their workers stand up and demand a living wage, a life of dignity, and a union.

      I love this bread, but I will not be buying it until these workers win.

  15. I also work at Dave’s have for over two year’s. Dave’s has done so much for there employee’s and yet you have the people that take advantage of them, they want to bring in the union because they didn’t get there way. Dave’s has saved people’s live’s by giving us a chance when nobody else would and Im speaking for many employee’s we LOVE our job. Just remember people there are two side’s to every one of these story’s…

    • Hey you,
      I worked elbow to elbow with alot of you. You can all recollect the days leading up to my termanation. I was very voicetourous with my day to day interactions with managment. And i shared my feelings and concerns with any who would listen. THATS WHY I AM NO LONGER EMPLOYEED THERE! ORGANIZING IS THE ONLY WAY TO EVER FIX THIS.

  16. Terry Lansing

    The workers who came to our Union also loved their job. They came to us because of the injustice they were seeing around them, and then it happened to them – they got fired and their lives devastated. Glen Dahl routinely opposed even granting unemployment benefits to save himself a couple of bucks on insurance. These workers were not, and are not, trying to take advantage of anything except have a job and be treated fairly. The Union is here to help. We represented two of the workers to win their unemployment benefits. We did this also to hopefully slow down the firings. Glen Dahl has hired a national anti-worker law firm and they are not cheap. Our Bakers Union members value their jobs too, but we have a contract with the employer, so we have a secure and professional relationship with our employer. Dave’s Killer Bread workers can have the same if they want it. Your employment doesn’t have to be “at will”, you choose to be “at will”. But you can choose to be organized for dignity, respect, justice, and looking out for your co-worker.

  17. I fully support Unions. Hate unfair labor pratice..favortism etc. I have been buying Dave’s bread every week for at least a year. No more, until they go union.

  18. A former DKB fan

    The issue at hand is not whether or not a company should be unionized, but the employees’ rights to discuss and explore the possibility of unionization without fear of retaliation. It is my understanding, as explained to me by a former union steward, that union protection is a two-way street: it protects employees from unfair labor practices while protecting the company from unfounded claims through arbitration.

    Example – employee complains of sexual harassment by a company owner, a union rep comes in and investigates said claim, should said claim be unfounded the employee is reprimanded. Unions have to be unbiased when investigating claims of anything unfair to maintain their standing. If a union was biased towards it’s members, there would be no unions and no need for law firms like Fisher & Philips (in my opinion).

    I no longer support Dave’s Killer Bread, nor do my family and friends; but we, the wrongfully terminated, are not calling for a boycott, that solves nothing. There are still many, many people who love the bread and don’t care how the company treats the employees who actually make the stuff. All we are asking for is the opportunity to have said wrongs made right, and allow current and future DKB employees to have a safe place to work where they don’t have to be afraid to speak up.

  19. First off I want to apologize for my rantings (that didn’t get posted for good reason) last week. What is needed here is a freedom of choice. Boycotting and mud-slinging is not the answer, it only seperates the two sides more. I too was helped by Dave’s when I first got out of prison, but unlike so many ex-cons that work there I brought a trade to Dave’s, and I was union in that trade for many years. I have seen people get terminated justly and unjustly, and I agree there needs to be some oversight in this regards if this company plans to go to the next level. We all want to keep that warm cozy feeling that we work for a “family company” but at some point it will come to the stark realization that the company is growing (very fast I might add) into a corporation. When that becomes the case than yes it will be the time for the employees to demand protection and rights. All I am saying is take in the whole picture. If the people who claim that they were unjustly fired were such good employees than they should be able to flourish at another company. The fact that I see are the people that weren’t doing their full potential and giving the company their 100% are the ones that are now denouncing Dave’s as unjust. I show up everyday (in two years I have missed 1 day), I show up on time, and I do my job to best of my ability for the full eight hours I am there. I have never been in fear of losing my job. Maybe as Dan said I will be thinking differently in 3 months, but I won’t be asking some outside labor organization to get my job back. I will be hitting the pavement and offering my abilities to another company. Thank you for you time

    • I loved my job and gave that company 110%. But because I was sticking up for my rights and pointing out things that weren’t fair or right I was terminated. They said I got fired for SOP violations. If that were the case then why didn’t my supervisor get a write up for not getting me my recipes on time.It is a violation but I was told to make the toppings without them because I had them memorized and he would get to them when he had time.I had also talked to my manager about this and he said he would check into it. Often he would leave for the day without getting them to me. So at the end of my shift I was rushed to get my paper work done and I wrote a wrong lot # down. I was told by a former supervisor that she was to watch me. We all know why I was fired. Do you really think that’s fair? Oh and by the way I flourish at everything I do. I take pride in my job and I don’t kiss ass. Everyone should be treated equal and with respect. They change rules daily or make them up as they need them. At least with the union you know what to expect

  20. We have been real supporters of Dave’s KB and enjoy their products. This sounds like a management issue that too often happens when business suddenly start growing. I urge all who are/were Dave’s customers to boycot their products and to send an email to: mailto:lindab@daveskillerbread.com to explain why you are boycotting such a wonderful product line.

  21. Chris Ellinger

    I posted this on the DKB Facebook page this morning and received a response from “Dave”

    “Just a note to let you know that I have been a fan of Dave’s Killer Bread since I first heard the story behind the company a few years back. I encouraged everyone I could to buy it and support the company. In light of what I have read recently regarding your actions towards employees trying to unionize for their own protection, I can no longer support your company as I have in the past. Here’s hoping your attitude changes. I don’t like delicious bread leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

    Dave’s Killer Bread The articles are one-sided and the “sources” are disgruntled former employees. We respect your right to believe the union paper’s accusations–we know different, but we can’t talk about employee records.
    http://www.daveskillerbread.com/DKB.pdf
    Dave”

  22. jarell bronson

    the hard work and the positive inspiring environment that i started working in at daves was what drew me to work my hardest and try to be the best, i wanted to make something of myself i was in and out of jail almost all my teenage years and never really took responsibility seriously i never cared about anything really, well sorry for the long story but its crucial to my angle, i loved my job and i worked my hardest and enjoyed all of my responsibilities and i eventually became lead but things were changing and everyone could feel it im not a mechanic im not an engineer i dont have a a college degree in business i was a manual labor oven operator lead and this company was shifting fast and moving people from department to department i feel its only natural that i feared for my job and so did alot of people,we felt we couldnt just find another job cause most of us were in charge of basic easy to operate equipment we werent engineers or mechanics like i said earlier,we had new management come in and try to run things on a bakery floor level and base all his methods on a book he read but had no clue how the place ran on the bakery floor, in bakeries a document might tell you how things should run but its experience that that runs it…. those are just a few reasons i dont like daves anymore i have no real anger or dislike for any one though and i hope they get it together but so everyone is aware you are hired at will and can be fired for no reason at all,and the union can protect you what do you have to lose if you dont like it vote them back out just the same as you voted them in simple dont be afraid to contact terry lansing at the bakery and confectionery union located in portland at least you can get some information on what the union does and how it helps people and businesses.

  23. I know the difference between a good job and a crappy one. Dave has had my back since day one. This company has earned my loyalty and the only “dues” I will ever pay will be to do the best job I can everyday. DKB for life!!!

  24. I have worked at Daves Killer Bread for going on 2 years now. And I love it. I have never had a problem with the way the company or fellow co-workers treated me. I find that if I or others are willing to put in the minimal required effort that the company is asking of their employees, then me and many others will continue to grow and prosper as the company does. I have personally worked with some of the disgruntled past employees and in my opinion I was happy to see them go. The company did “play favorites” but they were in fact what I like to call the slackers. Those are the ones who didnt like to do anything that wasn’t for their own personal gain. But what they failed to realize was that as the company gains so do the employees. These “favorites” were the ones who took longer breaks then required, didnt do what they were suppose to, did what they weren’t suppose to and said things they were racial and unjust about others. With getting rid of the so called “squeaky wheels” I believe that this company has given more chances to people who actually want to work for the great company. Work is for working at. I think people need to realize that in order to recieve a paycheck you need to work first. No decent company is going to hand out free money for just showing up. I find that if the disgruntled past employees are so upset about losing their job and think Dave’s Killer Bread is that unfair. WORK SOMEWHERE ELSE. If another competing company is paying their employees more than Dave’s, then work there. No one is stopping anybody. We were told by the owners about the union wanting to come in and were told that we were free to do what ever we wanted and so far I have heard nothing but negatives about unionizing the company from co-workers or customers. I would like to also say that Dave’s Killer Bread is still and also will be to me a family owned company. We are still a small company trying to make it in the big world. Every company has its ups and downs and will always have someone who feels like they are being mistreated. But what about the hundreds of other employees that are happy with the new direction Dave’s is going in. What about the employees who dont want a union. And as for discrimination, I am a lesbian myself and everyone knew it from the beginging. I did not feel like i was treated any different from anyone else. I think that the disgruntled employees and just looking for an excuse or are looking for retaliation against the best place they ever worked for.

    • Employers need to be fair in their treatment of all employees. I’m glad that you have had a positive experience. Don’t let it blind you to the fact that others are having a very different experience.
      From your description, it sounds like the person who’s been doing the hiring needs to be disciplined if 10% of the people hired deserved to be fired.
      We hear all the time that if we don’t like being mistreated we should just work (or live, etc.) somewhere else.
      That argument won’t ever stand up.
      The workers must.

  25. Right on!!!! Crystal,Robert and Ginger.

  26. Thanx, I guess that means I’ll be standing behind the Dahl’s 110%

  27. The workers the Union are representing are not “disgruntled” workers who deserved to be fired. They are good people who loved their job, worked hard, and were fired because the owners could fire them because the employees are “at will”. The workers were too outspoken on the job. Employees were talking about going Union – and selfish employers don’t like it when their workers talk about organizing for justice.

    Dave’s Killer Bread is no different than most employers who see employees as profit makers for them, and will throw the employee out as soon as they seem a threat or a liability. The “disgruntled” worker line, is an old lawyer fed line, that I have heard over and over to describe a worker who stands up and wants a little respect and justice. And Dave’s Killer Bread hired one of the biggest and most expensive anti-worker law firm in the nation. Why??

    When workers are organized into their Union, they have a negotiated right to question, investigate, and (when proper) overturn management discipline. Union workers can reverse wrongful terminations. This is why it is important for these workers to organize: many have records and it is hard to find another job with those records. They can only protect the job they have from wrongful firings by being organized. The already fired workers would most likely have had their jobs back, had they been Union at the time, and a Union investigation into the management allegations.

    I commend these workers for volunteering to reach out to the rest of the still employed. They could have walked away, but they liked working with their co-workers, and want them to have the justice they were denied.

  28. Hey all, Im a current MBA student studying labor relations.. Unfortunately, DKB management practices are exactly the reason unions were formed back in the day. Moreover, most for-profit corporations that treat their employees well, never have to address the issue of unionization.
    In this case, it seems unionization will force the company to address fair labor practices, increase pay, and protect workers rights. The management will be forced, by law, to change its policies and practices. This move will be successful if all employees are in on it TOGETHER.
    But then again, do you really want to work for a company, headed by ex-cons, that treat fellow ex-cons, with such disrespect?

    Maybe the management need to take some business ethics classes…

  29. Unions organized because employers took advantage of their workers and were not fair. Lots of employers are still like that but only more subtle. You don’t need a union and those fees if the employer can correct past mistakes. I will still buy bread…I just hope the employees don’t pee or spit in it. Come on Dave’s put an end to this. It’s in your power and I don’t mean fire people. Hire the right people in the first place and treat them with fairness. Document, document, document.

  30. Our family will buy DKB again when they allow a union/ or an alternate employe protection contract. Not until then.
    Fair Labor Practices For All..Period.
    They are obviously too big to control properly with out some type of oversight. A union could fill that roll, or the owners could find an alternate. Bottom line DKB will continue to loose customers and increase litigation until it is achieved.

    Well I am off to Great Harvest to check out some new bread.

  31. Gosh! I drive out of my area to get DKB. Not because of his story or background. Personally, I don’t trust drug users–former or otherwise. But I love the bread. It’s extra healthy, high-fiber and tastes incredibly delicious! But unions–I’m not a fan. They push costs up so high that now we close down factories and send jobs to China. They protect teachers that would otherwise be fired. Maybe there should be a point or credit system that gave tax incentives to companies and businesses that scored well in “employee relations”.

  32. Pingback: Nonunion Dave’s Killer Bread contracts work to union baker | nwLaborPress

  33. Just happened upon this as I was looking for info on Daves as I have been temping there . Seems to me it is little more than a sweat shop that affords employees no dignity or respect . Is it really necessary to take a persons driver license away from them to make sure you have them in control ? But then again we are talking about a company who has a crackhead poster child for a faceman . Is it so hard to imagine that the same illegal methods that were learned in a lifetime of crime would carry over into what was once a legitimate business ? Or that the same violence and heavy handed thuggery would prevail ? The same selfishness and lack of respect for others ? That the only one who matters is himself ? That employees would be subjected to a jailhouse bred mentality ? Power corrupts . If another pig were to rise up against the farmer would he not be easily pulled into power to mistreat others in similar fashion ? So the Dahls have enlisted the criminal and prisoner to force a penal like system on their employees . Stripping away dignity is one of the base methods of control.

  34. My question is the following; my last purchase of the Power Seed Bread seems absent all the good seeds to which I have become accustomed. Where did they go? Is this to be expected from now on? I pay $5.00 per loaf to enjoy the benefits and flavor and texture of how it was before this last loaf.

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