The Portland Thorns are on strike.
A group of Thorns players joined workers who have been striking since Aug. 10 at the Mondelez International bakery in Northeast Portland. The workers are picketing over a contract dispute with their employer, which wants a contract including longer shifts, cuts to overtime pay and higher health insurance premiums.
Employees at Nabisco/Mondelez bakeries in Illinois, Georgia, Colorado and Virginia have also walked off the job.
The workers have since been joined on the picket line by a variety of other unions, including the NWSL Players Association.
The players assert their presence on the picket line was a gesture on behalf of the whole NWSLPA as well as the Thorns’ players. It’s the first time NWSL athletes have made such a gesture.
“I think it’s important that we and other people in the community come and show support, just because I hope that it is taken seriously by their employer,” said Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby. “I hope that ongoing support by a lot of different groups and a lot of different people helps them take it seriously.”
“I just think it’s important that we show up for other members of the community who are fighting the same fight that we’re currently fighting,” added Thorns player and treasurer of the NWSLPA Emily Menges. “We know right from wrong, and this is wrong.”
The NWSLPA is also currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the league, but in picketing in solidarity, the players association is “less focused on what we’re doing and more focused on what [the workers] are trying to accomplish.”
“The details and everything are different—we’re not fighting for pensions, we’re not fighting for that kind of stuff—but just the fair treatment of humans.”