Workers at Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory voted on unionization Thursday, and the vote was a tight one — and currently the union is challenging 22 votes while Tartine management is challenging two.
As the Chronicle reports, pro-union workers are claiming victory with 89 votes to join the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), but there were 84 votes against, and now all the votes have been sealed and are being sent to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Tartine co-owner Elisabeth Prueitt tells the Chronicle, "The process from here can take weeks, months or potentially years to resolve in court... I don’t know why they are claiming victory."
According to some of those pro-union workers who spoke to Mission Local, the union is accusing Tartine of engaging in union busting, and, among other things, hiring a dozen "ringers" to participate in the vote who other workers say had never shown up to work at a Tartine location.
Tartine management tells the Chronicle that they suspect the 22 votes being challenged by the union are all votes against joining the union — and so this situation remains unresolved.
Earlier this week, Prueitt told the paper that the company is not profitable, and that while workers see the company's recent expansion to Los Angeles and South Korea as signs of wealth, the Bay Area locations of Tartine are not financially linked to the SoCal and Asian expansion.
As pro-union worker Brigitte Johnson tells Mission Local, "There’s obviously money, but how is it being spent? This is why we need a seat at the table."
Per the Chronicle, the process now involves the NLRB requesting statements from each party regarding each of the challenged votes, after which the board will determine whether an investigation or hearing is required.
The owners of the company and Los Angeles-based managing partner Bill Chait say that the economic realities of the business don't allow for higher wages, while pro-union workers don't believe them. Many workers at Tartine's three SF locations and the Berkeley outpost — which was voting separately on unionization Friday — make minimum wage, which in SF is $15.59 per hour. And some workers have complained that they lost their health insurance as the company expanded.
As Chait said earlier this week, "Tartine isn’t a conglomerate. How much can you charge for a loaf of bread? $16? $18?"
What is clear is that reports of the staff being divided on the union question were pretty accurate, and at the moment neither side can claim a clear victory.
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