Portland’s Prime Marketplace employees fired home for wearing Black Lives Matter pins – Blogtown

A photo of one of the banned BLM pins on an employee’s work shirt. Conrad Ronk

Employees at the Market of Choice grocery store in southeast Portland are speaking out after being repeatedly fired home for wearing “Black Lives Matter” pins.

In a letter sent Monday to the management of Market of Choice, employees at the SE Belmont store expressed frustration at not being able to express their support for Black Lives Matter while working.

“We have been told that the company wishes to maintain a ‘relaxing’ and comfortable environment, while black and brown members of our community are subjected to violence in all its forms every day,” the letter said.

Conrad Ronk, who works as a pizza chef at the store, is one of nine employees who signed the letter.

Ronk told the Mercury that on Thursday, June 25, six employees were fired home for wearing Black Lives Matter pins. “Since then, some managers have followed the policy, sending people home every day,” said Ronk, who was sent home on Monday for refusing to remove a BLM pin during his shift.

Ronk says the message employees are getting is management conflict with the public message Market of Choice CEO Rick Wright shared, expressing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Here is the text of that post, shared on the Market of Choice Facebook page:

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Wright’s message rings hollow for some store workers.

“We believe that it is not enough to simply make a performative PR statement without a basis for real action or solidarity,” the letter read. “It’s also far from enough to just wear buttons. We all need to have conversations and take action now, and a show of basic solidarity in the workplace is just the start.”

Employees were first made aware of this dress rule last week, when the staff of one of the company’s Eugene stores were asked to remove and replace the masks with “Black Lives Matter” printed on them. Since then, Market of Choice employees have staged protests outside their employer’s Eugene stores, urging shoppers to boycott high-end groceries until the company changes its policy.

A variety of pins that have been banned by Market of Choice.

A variety of pins that have been banned by Market of Choice. Conrad Ronk

A spokesperson for Market of Choice responded to the Mercuryrequest for comment with an email statement, which specifically related to masks and not pins.

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“Not allowing employees to wear a Black Lives Matter mask is simply a dress code issue, similar to most other retailers,” the statement said. “Employees who do not respect the dress code are encouraged to make the necessary changes. Specifically, if a teammate’s mask does not respect the dress code, they are offered an alternative mask in order to remain in the work environment. . “

This news coincides with a outcry from Portland Burgerville employees who have not been permitted to wear their own Black Lives Matter buttons at work. However, workers are permitted to wear Black Lives Matter pins produced by Burgerville. Members of the Burgerville Workers’ Union (BVWU) picketed outside the chain store in Montavilla to protest the company’s ban on Friday.

These corporate bans are not limited to Oregon. Employees at Whole foods, Taco Bell, Publish, and Starbucks were penalized, sent home or fired for refusing to remove Black Lives Matter masks or buttons, citing dress code violations. Starbucks canceled their ban one week after employees raised concerns.

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Sandy A. Greer

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