A bakers tale: Its not just the dough, Americans need to rise up

The Employee Free Choice Act could make things sweeter

LARKFIELD, Calif. — Obviously, bakers tend to wake up earlier than everyone else. It’s 4 a.m. in Larkfield, and the vending racks are just being filled with newspapers. The first pot of coffee is brewing, and I’m mixing the muffins for our morning customers. I’m listening to the radio, while the danish slowly rotate in the oven.

The news is all too familiar: some executive is on trial for defrauding investors, gas prices are on the rise, the morgue in Baghdad is at capacity and an Iraqi is grieving over the loss of his brother. Only a few weeks ago the insurgency started targeting my own brothers, the bakers of Iraq that help keep their communities fed. My heart goes out to these people who I do not know, but share a common bond.

Bakeries — cornerstone of civilization

These men are targeted for attack for the very reason that I bought a bakery in the first place: bakers are the cornerstone of civilization. The Egyptians developed bread around the same time they began to construct their great monuments. In our own neighborhood, our community entrusts us with the ceremonial foods for the milestones in their lives: cakes for baby showers, birthdays, graduations, weddings, retirements, and to comfort grieving families upon death. Customers break our bread with those who are close to them. They visit us to celebrate their son’s first day at school, and after Little League games. Often, we are the first person they greet in the morning, when they buy a donut to start the day. We are blessed to have a good clientele, but it is rare to find anyone in a bakery who is in a bad mood.

My reverie is interrupted by the oven. It is 50 years old and shows its age by creaking and moaning as it turns. It was installed in a simpler time, when this bakery made all the bread in town. Now every supermarket is our competitor. Though our product is fresher and better, we just can’t compete with their prices, because we pay our employees more, and make things from scratch.

No protection from Labor Board: How I went from high-tech to baker

As I form bread loaves, the radio announcer says something about another company offshoring jobs. My last job was in high-tech where I helped coordinate the transfer of my neighbors’ jobs to Malaysia. I eventually resigned in disgust with management and myself. I had tried to rally employees to protest the job losses and to inititate discussions to consider the pros and cons of forming a union. Even this innocent discussion group was subject to harassment by management and everyone was fearful of reprisal. I had to file a charge with the Labor Board over my management’s questionable actions. It was over a year before the claim was settled in my favor, and then all the company had to do was put up a notice out of sight of a majority of the workers.

Most corporations simply disregard the labor laws that protect our right to associate, because they know the penalties are minor and enforcement is weak.

The croissants have proofed and are ready to put in the oven. They look great. I hired a young baker from the junior college, who makes them. Croissants are good sellers, and our customers love them. Legend says that the bakers of Vienna invented them after thwarting an invasion by the Turks. The enemy was secretly undermining the city’s defenses with tunnels. The bakers heard the noise in the early morning and alerted the city. Together the citizens successfully fought off the invaders before their city could be sacked and looted. The entrepreneurial bakers formed the croissant to resemble the crescent flag of the Turks, and sold them by the thousands to the grateful public.

I’m baking some pans of cookies now. Our cookies are starting to gain popularity, but we haven’t hit our target market yet. We want to sell them to schools and other nonprofit groups that need to raise money for books and charitable efforts. A lot of local groups that used to be supported by the United Way are now on their own for raising funds. We hope to give them a way to help themselves.

My brother-in-law has just arrived to open up. He is 50 years old now, with a degree in economics. The most important lesson he learned is that when you are laid off at age 45, no one wants to hire you. He was able to find occasional work as a substitute teacher and did odd jobs until we took over the bakery.

A few people are waiting when he opens the doors. It looks like it will be a nice day as the sky begins to brighten.

Wake up! The cookies are done!

The cookies are done, and the oven now sounds like a jackhammer. I can finally shut it off, but now I realize that the noise I hear is coming from directly underfoot! It’s the sound of the enemies of America and of our inalienable rights. They’re undermining our constitutional defenses at this very moment! Somehow I have to wake up everyone, before it is too late!

You can start by supporting the bipartisan Employee Free Choice Act that is blocked in Congress by a few extremists. Ask your congressman to demand a fair up and down vote on the EFCA, so we can know where our leaders stand.

If you can’t do this, please try a “liberty cookie” and stop by for a cup of coffee to help yourself awaken. Thank you and enjoy the day!

johnrose @ libertycookies.com