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Olympia Pizza Time Strike Continues

Our struggle is not over. Olympia Pizza Time is set to reopen in mid-July under new ownership. The new owners refuse to meet with the striking workers. The striking workers are asking the new owners to recognize the Olympia Workers Association to begin union negotiations. On July 14th, the Olympia Pizza Time strike will enter the 5th month and community support is needed to send a clear message to the new owners.

Pizza Time workers may be forced to make another stand for workers' rights and decent work conditions. We will maintain a picket line in front of Pizza Time until our union is recognized. We urge the community of Olympia to stand in support of worker's rights and buy their pizza elsewhere until Pizza Time becomes a socially responsible business.
pizza crime
pizza crime
Pizza Workers in Olympia Continue Strike

In February of 2005, all nine Pizza Time workers in Olympia WA and their manager Alex Wentz went on strike to take a stand against racism and to stand up for their rights as workers. Shane Bloking, a previous manager at Pizza Time, bought into the business and immediately fired two competent employees. Shane has a history of uttering racist comments and it came to no surprise when Abara, the store's only African-American employee, was the first to be fired Shane's second day. Shane started to replace the workers with his incompetent brother and his friends.

Instead of watching our co-workers get fired for no good reason one-by-one, we held a meeting at Alex's house that night. The remaining workers didn't want to work at Pizza Time under these conditions. We chose to take a stand on Feb 11th. We drafted a list of basic demands that night that had to be unconditionally met or we would stop making and delivering pizza and go on strike. The demands were:

1) Abara and John get their jobs back Jeff Bloking (the owner's brother) has to go.
2) No workers are fired without Just Cause and without warning
3) No more racial slurs
4) A friendly, clean and safe work environment
5) Standardized breaks
6) Respect our right to unionize

The next day all the workers rode down to the shop in the bright orange pizza van. We gave each other high fives the whole way down to the shop. Shane arrived at work over 7 hours late and found his entire staff waiting for him, except for Jesus who was out on delivery. Once he walked through the door we confronted him with our list of demands.

Shane cut us off after demand #1 and said his brother was staying. Alex, who read the demands continued to the end of the list. Shane chuckled with his brother and refused to consider the workers' pleas for fairness. All the workers looked at each other and walked out the door. Immediately out side the shop Shane threatened to fire us, and pleaded with us to return to work. We stopped listening to Shane's threats and picked up picket signs expressing our outrage over his ownership practices.

All the workers had a fair amount of adrenaline in their veins at this point. Every worker stopped working at Pizza Time that day and the strike began.

After seven days of picketing, community support had brought Pizza Time's business to a trickle. The owners realized that they would not be able to operate the business successfully without meeting the workers' demands. Rather than establish fair working conditions, they chose to punish the workers and shut the place down. The striking workers vowed that they would continue their struggle until Pizza Time became socially responsible.

In July, five months after the struggle began, new owners took over the Olympia Pizza Time franchise. The workers hoped the new owners would be reasonable and meet with them to resolve the situation. The new owners refused to meet with the workers and denied any responsibility. They want to pretend the struggle never happened and they do not need to establish fair working conditions. We believe that we are justified and that the community in Olympia supports us in our struggle. We will continue our stand until fair working conditions are established.

For more information or to send us letters of support visit our website at  http://olympiaworkers.org. If you are in the Olympia area, please join us on the picket line at 4th and Jefferson in downtown Olympia.

With love for justice and solidarity,

The Pizza Time Workers

homepage: homepage: http://olympiaworkers.org


Locally owned 20.Jul.2005 13:38

Gota

I think this might not be appropriate to subject a very small locally owned neighborhood business to this. Small businesses like this have a 95% failure rate trying to compete with the national corporate chains.

No Sympathy For Capital Franchises 20.Jul.2005 19:00

Scab-Killer

"very small locally owned neighborhood business"? Pizza-Time is a franchise that has presence in multiple states, I don't know what you mean by local, small or neighborhood, but Pizza-Time doesn't come to my mind. Not that I agree with you on small local businesses, I feel that all businesses should be subject to the wishes of those who actually do the work, and if you can't handle that then you're probably a power-hungry, would-be robber-baron who deserves to loose every penny you invest. However Pizza-Time doesn't even fall under the local union-busting asshole business category, it's too large for ther to be any sympathy for it at all. This strike, and whatever action may be taken in the future, should be supported naturally because the reasons are sound, but even were the reasons nonsense, the business in question is an organ of a franchise that, by its capitalist nature, threatens all financially unprivledged people, and thus support for attacks against it should require no additional reason or explanation.

drawing the class line 20.Jul.2005 21:03

ian wallace

i don't understand the sentiment expressed above by gota. i'am always surprized at people who i think should know better mouthing that line. i don't know gota personaly, but must assume that they are motivated by well intentioned but misguided radical/liberal reformism and have not thuoght thruogh the impliations of defending a capitalist outfit against workers, or have, and are just flat out on the wrong side of the issue...

i really think this question gets to the basis of a revolutionary understanding of the economic system we live under, and simple radical reformism. personally, i don't believe that capitalism is capable of meeting the needs of humans and other citizens of the planet(animals), or protecting and restoring the natural world. i beleive we need a social revolution that replaces capitalism with a rational system that can meet the challeges that the earth faces. i don't know what that would look like, but i'am sure that the capitalist class does not have a place there.

while i'am talking macro here, it's directly related to the pizza time workers as a small business is still capitalist business. many small businesses must exploit workers at a higher rate then corporate business so they can compete with the economy of scale. some of the worst working conditions can be found at small local businesses. should workers not stand up to their employeer when wage and hour violations are occuring? should'nt we always demand respect? can any one blame a worker for seeking a higher wage? should we really put our needs aside for the sake of small boss against big boss?

criticaly, organizing is about more then wining improvements in our work lives, as this process builds confidience, and enhances our capacity to develop organizationaly. it does not matter who the boss is, because the qualitative result that matters is the transformative expeirence it develops in the worker. it builds a conscieness of power thruogh collective activity. it's the failure to realize that revolution is not "against" capitalism, but for the development of workers power that exposes a failure to break with capitalism.

in my opinion, radicals that ride to the defense of "locally owned business" and against workers fighting for their own intrests cannot claim to be revolutionaries. it does not really matter if it's a locally owned yuppie restraunt, bookstore, or a starbucks.

revolution is not pointing the finger and organizing against the "bad evil corporation" but in building our own power and confidience, and prefiguring a new society in the process. in the end, for me, that means drawing a class line, and standing up on our side of it, no matter what.

for social revolution and solidarity

Rather hold a peice of pizza but Iooks like its gonna be a sign 21.Jul.2005 22:17

Ben Waiting

I wont be eating there until I hear the new owners -Olympia Pizza Time- work out an agreement that is satisfactory. So in solidiarity as I said it once to em before, and I will say it again "I wont be eating there when I'm in town. I will, did, do support the strike"

Picket Line Suspended, Official Negotiations Begin Soon 25.Jul.2005 13:52

Olympia Workers Association olympiaworkers@riseup.net

In the past few days the owners of Pizza Time have agreed to meet with the Pizza Time workers to discuss reinstatement, and to negotiate a written agreement to protect basic worker's rights. The picket line has been suspended as a show of good faith and to show the owners that we can work together. We hope to begin negotiations this week, and we need help from everyone who supports our cause. We look forward to working with the new owners. More details will come soon.