Jon Donaire bakery strike is over: Workers vote yes on a contract
Local 37 picket line. | Photo: Downey Mayor Blanca Pacheco / via Twitter

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Mills (BCTGM) Local 37 in Santa Fe Springs has been settled. Management offered a tentative agreement on Tuesday after a four-month strike. The Union reviewed the proposals in the new contract and recommended that the membership ratify it. Wednesday afternoon the vote was tallied, and the contract is approved.

BCTGM struck demanding dignity for workers at the Jon Donaire plant, where the principal product is ice cream cakes. And they struck for a fair contract. Striking against Rich Product appeared at first to go against the best interest of the workers and seemed like an insurmountable task. But organizing continued, the workers never gave up, and they enjoyed wide community support.

Now that the new agreement is ratified by the membership, BCTGM Local 37 can truly “imagine the possibilities,” a slogan used by Rich Corporation to promote its mission. Rich Corporation is a prominent participant in the food manufacturing industry, including Jon Donaire. The workers at Jon Donaire can sing “Solidarity Forever”—or “Solidaridad para siempre”—loud and clear after four months of walking the picket lines.

The working-class heroes at the Jon Donaire plant, mostly Latina, organized a bottom-up labor and community campaign to force the Rich Corporation to negotiate a fair and just contract. The company was under tremendous pressure to bargain in good faith. With workers still out on strike, the company agreed to a new contract.

The organizing path

Back in November 2021, Jon Donaire workers went on strike. Going out on strike was a frightening act for many of the workers who were striking for the first time. The Latina women and the other workers decided to take action even if striking meant serious consequences for their coworkers, family, and union. One worker said, “My family was nervous about me, but they are proud that I made the decision to strike.” The striking workers stood proud, committed, and continued to work closely with the union leadership to secure their contract demands.

On December 17, BCTGM Local 37 stood with the workers who overwhelmingly voted to reject the company’s best offer. The workers felt the terms of the company’s offer were disrespectful and insulting. The offer did not adequately address the issues of wages, work rules, benefits, and pensions.

The company clearly did not value its workers—while claiming that they treat their “associates,” customers, and community like a family. The workers, on the other hand, had deep pride in their professional expertise and experience, and knew their worth. The workers understood that the family analogy was very far from the truth. The company’s employment practices were simply unfair. The workers, especially the Latinas, would not be deterred and would not back down.

They didnt walk alone

In the beginning, and within days of calling for a strike, a 24-hour picket line was established. Workers sought to garner political and community support. A community labor support committee was established, and within a few weeks the strike was receiving national attention. People’s World covered it, and other national news outlets began to cover it as well. The most powerful tool in creating interest in the strike was the ongoing posting of the strike on YouTube by labor-community supporter Richard Castro.

Major labor leaders such as National AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Ron Herrera walked the picket lines with the workers. Jobs for Justice donated money and supported the strikers. Sen. Bernie Sanders and other members of Congress supported the strike. Communities throughout Southern California viewed the struggle as an attack on working-class people and another example of corporate greed. Support committees began to target local markets that still carried Donaire products, asking managers to withdraw them and distributing informational flyers to customers.

Make no mistake about it. The steadfast commitment of workers on strike made this struggle a local and national cause. These Latinas are the true labor heroes of the day. Everyone else helped move the struggle forward. It was indeed a labor-community collaboration showing true worker power. This labor struggle is a testament to the devoted, hardworking women and men at Jon Donaire seeking equality, fighting for better working conditions and a more secure future for their families and community.

Sí se puede!


David Trujillo
David Trujillo

David Trujillo is a member of the National Writers Union, a playwright, writer, and community activist. David Trujillo es miembro de la Unión Nacional de Escritores, dramaturgo, escritor y activista comunitario.