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Pizza Workers in Olympia Continue Strike

In February of 2005, all nine Pizza Time workers in Olympia WA and theirmanager Alex Wentz went on strike to take a stand against racism and tostand up for their rights as workers. Shane Bloking, a previous managerat Pizza Time, bought into the business and immediately fired twocompetent employees. Shane has a history of uttering racist comments andit came to no surprise when Abara, the store’s only African-Americanemployee, was the first to be fired Shane’s second day. Shane started toreplace the workers with his incompetent brother and his friends.

Instead of watching our co-workers get fired for no good reasonone-by-one, we held a meeting at Alex’s house that night. The remainingworkers didn’t want to work at Pizza Time under these conditions. Wechose to take a stand on Feb 11th. We drafted a list of basic demandsthat night that had to be unconditionally met or we would stop making anddelivering 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 orangepizza 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 waitingfor him, except for Jesus who was out on delivery. Once he walked throughthe 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 chuckledwith his brother and refused to consider the workers’ pleas for fairness. All the workers looked at each other and walked out the door. Immediatelyout side the shop Shane threatened to fire us, and pleaded with us toreturn to work. We stopped listening to Shane’s threats and picked uppicket signs expressing our outrage over his ownership practices.

All the workers had a fair amount of adrenaline in their veins at thispoint. Every worker stopped working at Pizza Time that day and the strikebegan.

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

In July, five months after the struggle began, new owners took over theOlympia Pizza Time franchise. The workers hoped the new owners would bereasonable and meet with them to resolve the situation. The new ownersrefused to meet with the workers and denied any responsibility. They wantto pretend the struggle never happened and they do not need to establishfair working conditions. We believe that we are justified and that thecommunity in Olympia supports us in our struggle. We will continue ourstand 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 uson the picket line at 4th and Jefferson in downtown Olympia.

With love for justice and solidarity,

The Pizza Time Workers