By Noah Wass
All was optimism at Scottie’s Pizza Parlor last September when all 13 workers at the Southeast Portland pizzeria announced they were joining the Industrial Workers of the World —and owner Scottie Rivera agreed to recognize their union.
But when the COVID-19 crisis hit in mid-March, Rivera closed down the pizzeria and laid off the entire staff. A few days later Rivera reopened with a slimmed-down operation and just two employees.
On June 13, the pizza union published an article on the website Medium calling on the two re-hired employees to quit in solidarity with the union.
“We call on Scottie to make a public statement explicitly acknowledging that his ‘pro-worker’ ideals did not translate into good personal practice, and are superseded by his class position as a boss and an owner; that he has acted in bad faith rather than seeking inclusive and equitable solutions with worker input; and to strike pro-worker language from the parlor website and any other materials that employ it for advertising purposes.”
Rivera says he wasn’t happy being a boss and even considered selling the business. He says it was the pandemic that forced him to lay off staff. While there was no formal contract with the union, Rivera says he respects the rights of any re-hired employee to unionize. But Rivera has no plans to re-hire any other workers at the moment and says the decision to operate on a smaller scale is permanent.