SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — “A raise, a pension, and respect!” chanted some 100 striking workers and their supporters at a Nov. 15 rally in front of the Rich’s/Jon Donaire bakery here. The company makes ice cream cakes that are sold by Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery and other companies. The 175 workers, members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 37, went out on strike Nov. 3 and have picketed 24/7 since.
“The production has expanded, for the same money we’re producing more, we feel it,” Maria Palomo, who has worked at the plant 21 years, told the Militant. “The speed of the line is faster, but they don’t give us any more than the minimal salary we make.” Workers get in the range of $16 to $17 an hour. Most of the workers are women.
“The cost of living has gone up but they only offered us a 50 cents raise,” she added. “There’s a lot of overtime, and we can’t say no — it’s obligatory and if you don’t do it you get points. We want more days off. We’re working hard and we need to rest.”
“A raise is the main thing we want,” said Jessica Cerda, who has worked at the plant since March. She agreed that forced overtime was a problem, especially for people who have to take care of their kids. Workers don’t know what time they will get out, or if they’ll have to work overtime. “They’re supposed to tell us every day, but they don’t. They think we should just expect it.”
Eighteen-year-old Eric Ochoa said, “Sometimes they put you somewhere and they forget about you. You don’t get your third break you’re supposed to have if you’re working 12 hours. Or you have to work too long without a lunch break and they make you sign a paper saying it was your fault, and give you a point, so they don’t get into trouble. But you can’t leave, because if no one is there the cakes would fall to the ground.
“There’s too much overtime. When I started some lines were doing 6,000 cakes, now they’re doing 13,000. People are doing 12 hours work in eight, and the supervisors get mad at new people when they can’t keep pace,” he said. Many new people quit after a few weeks and the company is short-handed.
Strikers were joined by supporters from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, United Steelworkers Local 675, two Teamsters locals, UTU/SMART rail union Local 1544, SEIU United Healthcare Workers West and people from the community.
“One day longer, one day stronger, we’ll be out here with you in this fight,” Xochitl Cobarruvias, representative of USW Local 675 and of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, told strikers at the rally. People have brought food to the strikers, who have a box for donations in their picket tent across the street from the Jon Donaire plant at 12805 Busch Place here.