NEWS: Sanders and Padilla Lead Letter with Colleagues to Billionaire Bob Rich in Support of Striking Bakery Workers in California

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) Tuesday, along with their colleagues Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), sent a letter to Bob Rich Jr., Chairman and majority owner of the Rich Products Corporation, to express support for the 100 or so bakery workers on strike against the appropriately named Rich Products Corporation at the Jon Donaire Desserts production plant in Santa Fe Springs, California. On strike for better wages and working conditions since November 3, 2021, about 75% of the employees are Latina women who are often forced into mandatory overtime with little to no notice and sometimes work up to 16 hours a day.

The senators urged Chairman Rich to bargain in good faith with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union and agree to a fair contract for the striking workers as soon as possible.

“Rich Products is not a poor company. It is not going broke,” the senators wrote to Rich. “Last year, your company made over $4 billion in revenue. During the pandemic, you became over $2 billion richer and now have an estimated net worth of more than $7.5 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. We do not believe that it is too much to ask that you treat your workers with the respect and dignity they have earned and deserve.”

The striking workers make cakes for Baskin Robbins, Safeway and Cold Stone Creamery, helping to bring in the $4 billion the company made in revenue last year. During the pandemic, Bob Rich, the majority owner of Rich Products, increased his wealth by more than $2 billion. While the workers he employs barely make more than California’s minimum wage, Rich currently has a net worth of more than $7.5 billion. Yet, despite his billions in wealth, the “best and final offer” Rich has put on the table for his workers is a substantial increase in health care premiums and an insulting $1-an-hour wage increase that would not keep pace with inflation.

“Mr. Rich: Your employees have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, keeping production lines moving at breakneck speeds and fueling company profits,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to bargain in good faith with the union and agree to a fair contract as soon as possible.”

The bakery strike comes amidst a wave of worker protests across industries and states, including at least 185 strikes at 255 locations in 2021. Sanders recently rallied in support of striking Kellogg’s workers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Tennessee; led letters of support for striking steelworkers in West Virginia, Kellogg’s workers and more than 30,000 Kaiser health care workers; and stood in solidarity with workers at John Deere, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Frito-Lay, Teamsters Hunts Point Market workers, GSOCUAW graduate workers at NYU, Churchill Downs, and more.

Read the full letter here.