Discrimination at a Portland Papa Murphy’s

August 1, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore--A spirited, multi-racial crowd of some 40 people picketed outside of a Papa Murphy's take-and-bake pizza shop on July 22.

The picket was organized by former workers of the store who have experienced sexual harassment as well as racial discrimination and homophobia. At least one worker says she was fired when she threatened to complain to Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industry. Workers also allege that they were denied breaks and were underpaid.

The ex-workers say there was a hostile work environment where sexist and racist language was used against the mainly young workers. Several of them have filed a civil rights grievance to the state's Bureau of Labor and Industry. One worker was even made to clean out the toilet with a toothbrush for being five minutes late.

The picket was to let the community know what kind of lousy employer Papa Murphy's is and to expose their discriminatory and unfair practices. Picketers gave out flyers to passing cars and people walking by. They listed 16 demands, including: Papa Murphy's publicly condemn discrimination based on race and sex in their Portland branches; all Papa Murphy's employees immediately enforce breaks that are mandatory in the state of Oregon for every four hours of work; Papa Murphy's fire District Manager Matt Malony, who is at the center of many of the accusation of discrimination; and that workers that were fired and treated unjustly should get compensated for their unemployment as well as their losses.

As the crowd chanted "Tricks and lies will not divide, workers standing side by side and "Don't take, don't bake, Papa Murphy's discriminates," many passersby stopped to find out what was going on and cars honked their horns in support.

But the young workers have gone further than just picketing. Cherise and Dennise Mofidi, two of the fired workers, have started to organize the Youth Empowerment Revolution Coalition, which aims to get young people involved in issues of youth unemployment, youth employment rights and civil rights. The back of the coalition's T-shirts announce: "It's more than a Movement. It's a Revolution."

Cherise said she wanted the coalition to go beyond Portland and hoped to hook up with other people around the country.

The workers state on their Facebook page: "We are also doing this picketing to show Portland's youth that it is up to us to be the change in the world that we would like to see. It is imperative that we stand up against injustice in the workplace to create a better labor force for ourselves and future generations of the youth in America."
The owners of the Papa Murphy's franchise own two other stores in the area. The ex-workers are planning on picketing all three stores.

As the picketers chanted, "What you see is what you get--and you ain't seen nothing yet!

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