July 4, 2008 Volume 109 Number 13

Legal settlement returns union organizer to bakery

Thanks to a settlement brokered by the National Labor Relations Board, Georgene Barragan returned to Bread Song Bakery June 24, six months after she was fired for failing to reveal past union experience on her job application.

Barragan, a full-time organizer for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 114, got a job at Bread Song last July in order to give workers there a chance to unionize. Wages and benefits are substantially lower there than at unionized bakeries in the Portland area. The Lake Oswego bakery is owned by a subsidiary of Cargill.

Barragan said co-workers welcomed her back with hugs and handshakes when she arrived for her pre-dawn shift. They knew she was returning because Bread Song posted terms of the out-of-court settlement in three languages on company bulletin boards.

Barragan was a mixer when she was fired, but rather than displace her replacement, she came back in a position on the divider line. She’ll divide dough into loaves while on the clock, and unite bakery workers, she hopes, while on break.

“I think they’re realizing the power they have if they come together as one and negotiate in a union rather than on their own,” Barragan said.

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