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Greenpoint's She Wolf Bakery Workers Latest to Unionize

The bakers filed paperwork with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Thursday.
She Wolf Bakery workers gather to announce their plans to unionize. Photo supplied by Mike Chrisemer.

Bakers in Greenpoint are cooking up a plan to unionize, one of the many employee groups in the city to do so in recent years. 

Employees of She Wolf Bakery told their owner on Thursday they filed to unionize with the National Labor Relations Board in representation with Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The 23 bakery workers signed RWDSU authorization cards and asked their bosses to recognize their union.

"They thanked us for coming and for sharing our grievances," said Abhay Brennan-Torell, who works in Marketing and Sales. "They said they will look into it."

She Wolf Bakery is the latest Brooklyn business to see its workers unionize. Barnes & Noble's Park Slope location voting to unionize last June and Caesar Bay's Starbucks unionizing in May 2022. 

Rachael Goldberg, a baker, said the pandemic showed that essential workers, like those in the food industry, are critical to the daily functions of society but there was still not enough support. Other issues include working with ovens in the summer heat and discrimination.

"There's no climate control and it can be as high as 107 degrees in there," said Goldberg, who uses the prounoun they. "It's always been hot in the summer and we're working in extreme weather conditions. We should get hazard pay."

The owners are sympathetic and there's been acknowledgment of the conditions, they added. 

Brennan-Torell, who also uses the pronoun they, said one reason to unionize was after workers witnessed race and gender discrimination when it came to promotions and equity. They said many of the workers have noticed patterns in which white people and men were more likely to get promotions and higher pay. 

The struggle to get by in an expensive borough is another factor. Both Goldberg and Brennan-Torell said it has been difficult to make rent, buy groceries, and have affordable healthcare. Although She Wolf Bakery provides insurance, both employees say the costs do not match their wages. 

Despite this, Goldberg and Brennan-Torell enjoy creating a product people bring home and share with family.

"We're not forming because we hate our jobs," Goldberg said. "Everyone loves working at She Wolf and we take care of one another. But it's not a sustainable world."

Brennan-Torell said it was the best job she ever had, but didn't feel protected.

The bakers have received support from GrowNYC, which saw its workers have their union recognized last May. They have not yet heard from any unionized Brooklyn and citywide workplaces including the other food businesses that are owned by The Marlow Collective, a hospitality brand that owns She Wolf Bakery.

The next step for the workers is to have a union election. Then comes a collective bargaining agreement, which would be presented as a contract to the owners.

"We are very proud of the work we do together and recognize and respect our employees' fundamental right to organize and bargain collectively," said a spokesman for the Marlow Collective via email. "We want to ensure that this is in fact their desire and anticipate negotiating in good faith with the Union if this is their decision."







Megan McGibney

About the Author: Megan McGibney

Megan McGibney is a multi-generational New Yorker who is originally from Staten Island.
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