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Dandelion Chocolate Workers Rallied After Announcing Unionization

SAN FRANCISCO—After formally announcing their intent to form a union on March 17, Dandelion Chocolate workers rallied at Dolores Park last Wednesday with the support of the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6 members, the San Francisco chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Tartine Bakery workers, Anchor Brewery workers, and the broader labor movement.

More than 100 attendees gathered to also celebrate the Tartine Bakery unionization, which was formally recognized by the National Labor Relations Board in DC. Dandelion Chocolate, Tartine Bakery, and Anchor Brewery are well-loved institutions by locals.

Christine Keating, a lead chocolate educator at Dandelion for almost seven years, said that she loves what she does and believes that unionizing will improve working conditions for herself and her colleagues.

“I’m so proud of seeing us grow for the last seven years and I’ve had amazing experiences at Dandelion, and I’ve also been in really, really hard situations,” she said. “And I truly believe that the group of my passionate, talented, and smart coworkers are the best people to listen to know how to make things better.”

Kenneth Cabrera, another Dandelion worker, also emphasized that he liked what he does and simply wants better treatment and pay.

“We’re not here to tear down any systems,” he said. “We’re here to make a better workplace…we just want to make a living at the same time.”

Workers, supporters, and many other unions weren’t the only ones that attended the rally. District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, who’s also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, asserted his support for the unionization efforts.

“San Francisco is a union town. It has always been and always will be. And we want to send a loud, clear message to Dandelion management. Let your workers organize, sit down with them, and embrace it. Just do the right thing.”

Prior to unionizing, workers at the Valencia location met with CEO Todd Masonis after sending a letter to human resources asking to hire more workers to help with production. Rather than listening to their request, Masonis proposed to pause the Valencia operation and transfer all production to their 16th Street factory. This also meant less pay, work at 16th Street with an unknown position, and a $1,000 severance. Workers also reported layoffs that also occurred, which led to an exacerbation of those working conditions.

Dandelion workers are also unionizing due to multiple incidents of systemic racism in the workplace, according to Mission Local back in June.

Workers of Tartine Bakery also came out in solidarity after their own ordeal of having to wait over a year for the NLRB to rule on contested ballots, a situation made worse by the pandemic. 

The Tartine Bakery unionization vote was formalized the day before the rally. The workers had a prior union vote, but management and the union challenged 24 of those votes back in March 2020, deeming them illegitimate, and moved forward with litigation to block the formation of the union.

On the same day as the rally, the National Labor Relations Board certified ILWU Local 6 to represent Tartine workers for collective bargaining.

As COVID restrictions ease more and more, Agustin Ramirez, the lead organizer for the ILWU, said it’s the best time to unionize. After the passage of the Right of Reemployment Ordinance back in June by the Board of Supervisors, which mandates certain employers to rehire eligible employees that were previously laid off due to COVID before hiring new ones.

As of now, ILWU Local 6 is prioritizing the effort to ensure Tartine will rehire their previous employees to comply with the Ordinance and form a bargaining committee with the employees.

Photo by Savannah Kuang

Savannah is a freelance writer and photographer, organizer, and San Francisco resident. She (or they) covers actions, police, and labor for SFIJ.

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