Monday, April 09, 2012
Guest Post by Rickvid in Seattle
Borrachini’s is a Seattle Central District bakery that has been in business in one family for 90 years. The current owner, Remo, is in his mid-80s, has worked there for 72 years, and shows up every day for work. Recently he had to fire a woman who’d worked there for 9 years for rudely treating customers. Counseling her did not work. She then went to a group called Seattle Solidarity (SeaSol) claiming that, in 9 years, she’d never been allowed to take a break. SeaSol is connected to the International Workers of the World, (IWW) the Wobblies, old time communists whose avowed purpose is to destroy capitalism. SeaSol then demanded that the bakery pay up $8000 for all the unallowed break time. Don’t know how they figured that, but the demand was there with the threat of closing the bakery down if not paid. Under Washington law, that is extortion.
Last Saturday, March 31, SeaSol showed up at the Borrachini’s, entered it, started clapping and chanting and blocking customer access. They left after a while but threatened to return yesterday, April 7th. I decided to go observe. Ah, the madness.
The large group of supporters showed up before the announced time of the protest. SeaSol was late. Eventually SeaSol marched down the sidewalk, chanting slogans like, “No breaks, no cakes!” and “When worker’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” and “Hey, hey, what’s that sound? Borrachini’s goin’ down!” and the really hilarious, “This is what the working class looks like!” Well, I asked and most had no job, of course, or were “organizers,” so, not the working class. Many people on both sides had cameras and cell phones running to record events. I dubbed one guy who held his camera up wherever he was looking The Recorder, one guy was The Organizer as he got the group going into circles on the sidewalk and told them what to chant and when, one guy was The Chanter as he led chants, one lady was The Screamer as she screamed right into the faces of bakery supporters, another was Mr. Baked, as it was clear he’d indulged in a spliff or 5 before the fun began.
The police eventually arrived and did a good job ensuring the driveway into the parking lot was open, escorting pedestrians down the sidewalk through the protesters, and keeping relative order. The media were there in force, of course. The two protest groups exchanged words as one would expect. A number of Borrachini’s staff came out and chided SeaSol pointing out that they were there while on their breaks! This, of course, made no difference to the protesters. The manager got into it with one protestor who shoved an employee; a foreshadowing of things to come. They told him that management was not a real job, only exploiting the workers. So, we see the childlike level of thinking.
A fellow came out of the bakery and offered cookies to the protesters. At some point, one of the protesters smacked the cookies out of his hand and punched him. He shoved her away and she did a swan dive to the sidewalk, worthy of a soccer player taking a dive on the pitch. The police moved in and restored order. Some bakery supporters offered first aid, one was an EMT I think, but SeaSol declined. At one point the manager brought out some water for the girl, but that, too, was declined, I think. SFD arrived and did first aid. The girl was not taken to hospital, but remained with an ice pack and red bandana on her eye. The police asked anyone with video of the event to come see them. A SeaSol leader asked SeaSol, and specifically said “not you people,” meaning the supporters, to take video showing the “attack” on the girl to the police. I went to where some SeaSol folks reviewed their video and they did not have the event recorded. That did not stop The Observer from claiming he’d seen the whole thing and the Borrachini supporter had just struck the protester for no reason. Oddly, his camera did not capture the moment. Hmmmm.
Finally the protesters linked arms into a scrum right at the edge of the bakery’s property; I feared they might try to push into the bakery, but they just stood there chanting as told, on cue. At that point, I left to go do something productive.
What do I conclude? Six or so things. First, if the employee was unhappy, why stay for 9 years? Bakery clerk is not so specialized a job that she could not have moved on at any time. Then, if she actually had a real case, she would take it to the law; Washington is very good at enforcing worker rights. I see, too, not surprisingly, that SeaSol is a group of child-minded drones, easily led and deceived. None of them cared about the facts that Borrachini has logs and videos of the employee taking breaks. It means nothing to them. Another is that SeaSol and this event are a vision of the future under our current leadership. Due process gives way to intimidation, “People’s” trials, “People’s” justice meted out at the whim of the mob. ACORN, SEIU and their type show up at private businesses and extort money or actions under threat of disruption and violence. It couldn’t happen here? Well, it is happening.
Two things. First, this event shows the futility of groups like SeaSol; they are fringe, crazed fanatics who choose acting up like children over actually doing the hard work to effect change. They march, chant, mock, feel good, then go get stoned and laid. SEIU, tho, is a different matter. They take worker’s money, use it to organize and buy politicians.
Finally, Borrachini’s business is hoppin’ like never before. I had never been there; it is not in a part of town I frequent and I am not a baked goods guy. But, Remi Borrachini could not buy better publicity. SeaSol are idiots, deluded and self defeating. And, they do not care.