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Bernie Sanders Calls Offer To End Local Dessert Worker Strike ‘Pathetic,’ Backs Union

A man shakes hands with another person with people surrounding them.
Sen. Bernie Sanders greets people during a campaign event in 2019 in West Des Moines, Iowa. He spoke out this week about a long strike by workers at a dessert company in Santa Fe Springs.
(Joe Raedle
Getty Images)
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Workers at Jon Donaire Desserts in Santa Fe Springs have been on strike to get a fair contract for nine weeks, missing vital paychecks during the peak of the holiday season.

While parent company Rich’s hasn’t returned to the bargaining table since union members voted down its “final offer” in December, Sen. Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind the workers. They will join Sanders in a virtual town hall for national labor solidarity on Wednesday (Jan. 5) at 5 p.m.

In a statement released Tuesday, Sanders said that the offer Rich’s proposed was “pathetic” considering the monetary gap between its billionaire owner and employee wages. Sanders said that Bob Rich, the company’s majority owner, gained more than $2 billion in wealth during the pandemic.

Some people who have worked at Jon Donaire for more than 10 years make $16 an hour — a dollar above minimum wage in L.A. County for businesses with 26 or more employees —according to staff on strike.

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The workers are asking for a larger wage increase than the bump of 50 cents an hour each year proposed by the company. They also want protected health benefits. As the strike entered January, the Bakers’ Union Nate Zeff, says the company is about to essentially “turn off their health care.”

Local politicians have also criticized the company’s practices.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Rich’s in December calling on the company to bargain in good faith. Supervisor Janice Hahn called on management to “do what is right” by joining the picket line. Supervisor Hilda Solis has also been outspoken, saying she understands the sacrifices the workers, who are predominantly immigrant Latinas, take to picket every day.

A woman in a red coat talks with people on a sidewalk holding signs that say, "On strike. Rich's."
Supervisor Hilda Solis walks with workers in Santa Fe Springs on January 4, 2022.
(Courtesy Bryan Chan
L.A. County Board of Supervisors)

Despite pressure from officials, Rich’s doesn’t plan to present another offer. Company officials insist they're offering wages that are average for the industry or better.

“Our plant remains operational and we continue to welcome back any striking workers with open arms,” Rich’s wrote in a statement.

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