Spruce Confections workers make historic organizing campaign in Boulder

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As ongoing strikes by John Deere (NYSE: DE) and Kellogg Co. (NYSE: K) spotlight collective action by workers across the country, Boulder comes into the picture with an organizing campaign at Spruce Confections LLC .

In a fight for better wages, benefits and working conditions, the majority of the roughly 70 non-managerial employees at the local Boulder bakery chain have signed union cards in hopes of joining Local 26 of the bakery, confectionery, tobacco and grain union.

If successful, workers at Spruce Confections will be the first Boulder County food service workers to unionize, according to the BCTGM.

“There is a lot of excitement in the air and a feeling that we are on the verge of real change,” Spruce warehouse worker Roscoe Cichon told BizWest.

Spruce, who did not immediately comment on Friday, does not provide retirement benefits to workers, most employees do not accumulate paid time off beyond federal holidays and, until recently, non-managers did not have primary health care benefits, according to the union.

“We all want to work for a company that values ​​us, and I think collective action is the best way to make our voices heard,” said Noah Hill, barista at Spruce’s Pearl Street. “We want our voices to be heard.

Spruce workers are inspired by union action in places like Ottumwa, Iowa, where Deere and Co. factory workers strike in controversial labor contract negotiations.

“People across the country are fighting for themselves and their colleagues,” Hill said.

Since signing the union cards, Spruce workers have not had in-depth discussions with management about their efforts, but neither has there been a significant setback, employees said.

“It’s a ‘no news is good news’ kind of thing right now,” Cichon said.

The hope of the employees is that the management of Spruce will voluntarily acknowledge their union pressure.

“We are just waiting for management’s response to see if they will recognize us voluntarily,” Hill said. “I think it would be the right thing to do.”

Denver-based Local 26 represents manufacturing, production, maintenance and sanitation workers in bakeries and food production operations in Colorado.

“The workers themselves are the union,” said BCTGM organizer Nic Hochstedler. “We have people to support them and fight with them, but it’s the workers who are on the front lines of this organization. Our role is to guide them through this process, to help them negotiate their first contract and to protect workers from retaliation.

Spruce workers said if they are successful, they hope to be a role model for other groups of employees in Boulder.

“I would love to see this become the start of other workers also organizing their stores,” Hill said.

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