Fired cupcake baker protests labor abuse

Nearly 30 protestors exercised their 1st Amendment right to raise awareness about labor rights on Labor Day.

We TMre here to help others to stand up, to speak loud about their conditions at work and to continue the struggle for fair jobs for everyone, protestor Joseph Martin said.

La Fuerza de Valle has been an outspoken group advocating for workers rights in the Rio Grande Valley.

They tell Action 4 News many workers don TMt speak up about unfair labor practices because of fear of retaliation.

Laura Sanchez said she did, and it cost her a job.

I was my dream job, she said.

Sanchez said she helped contribute to the success of the RGV Cupcake Factory creating award-winning cupcakes and working overtime.

But she barely made minimum wage and noticed other seasoned bakers only made pennies more.

I was never going to get more than $7.50 an hour, it was kind of a slap in the face considering I have experience, Sanchez said.

She decided to talk to management about the issue.

They started basically retaliating against me, she said. I got a phone call the next day saying I was bringing up labor and not to do that anymore.

Sanchez said she was fired days later.

She felt it was her fault at first, but changed her mind after meeting advocates at Fuerza de Valle.

They got me in contact with the National Labor Relations Board, she said.

A year later the Cupcake Factory settled with Sanchez giving her back pay and the company had to post a notice stating rights of employees.

"If you don TMt have a union, workers have the right to speak together to act in concert and to confront their boss or to speak publicly about the conditions of their employment," Martin said.

Unfortunately the court battle dulled Sanchez TMs sweet tooth for baking professionally.

"I still bake here and there just for like friends and family on a whole though I just do it for fun," she said.

Sanchez hopes by sharing her story she will encourage other workers to stand up for their rights.

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