Dispute over back pay pits activists against bakery

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 6, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 6 at 9:39 AM

SEATTLE -- For 90 years on Rainier Avenue South, family-run Borracchini's Bakery has tried to treat employees like family.

Our news partner, KIRO FM, MyNorthwest.com, broke this story about a former employee who is demanding back pay. Now a group of protestors is targeting the bakery on her behalf. Is it activism or intimidation?

For years, people have been lining up at Borracchini's for their sugary sheet cakes. But on Thursday, people were lining up to support the long-time employee, who was fired for being rude to customers.

Now she is fighting back, claiming she never got work breaks during her years of service and now wants back pay.

Her cause has been picked up by Seattle Solidarity Network. In March, about 60 protesters with the group marched into the bakery, demanding the owner give Gladys $8,000 within two weeks or they'd be back.

"They didn't say a word and I didn't say a word - just looking at them. Just a mass of people in this small space. It was intimidating," said Remo Borracchini, owner.

The group posted their protest, with music, on YouTube. They stood in the store for 15 minutes, clapping and disrupting business.

"She worked there for nine years with no complaints and no breaks. We would like to see justice for that and she would like to see justice for that," said Tephra Brune, Seattle Solidarity Network.

The bakery gave KING 5 a video of Gladys, the employee who was fired. The video shows her on a 17-minute work break last July.

Seattle Solidarity had helped the fired employee before. In 2010, they helped her win a dispute with her landlord. She became a member of the group before she was fired at Borracchini's.

Both sides are rolling up their sleeves. With tempertures rising, a long fight over dough is cooking. The protestors have set the timer, but the baker said, "They are never going to get any money out of us."

The protest group is planning to picket outside of the bakery this Saturday. It's a holiday weekend, when the bakery plans to bake more than 300 cakes.

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