HARRISBURG, Pa. — The lights and ovens are off at Knead Slice Shop in downtown Harrisburg.
It's seemingly for good.
"It’s really disappointing and it’s extremely disrespectful and it’s not what we expected at all," said Jessie Pierce, a former crew member at Knead.
Knead’s decision to close both its North Third Street and Broad Street Market locations was announced Tuesday through its Instagram.
“The fact that we were all essentially let go with no notice. We didn’t even find out from our employer that the shop was permanently closing," said Pierce. "We found out from Instagram.”
It comes just days after the shop’s 11 employees filed an official petition to unionize.
“We wanted a voice in our workplace," said Pierce. "We wanted basic worker protections. We wanted the things every worker ought to have.”
Consistent scheduling, livable wages, proper training and a safe work environment are just some of the things they were asking for, according to the group's post on Instagram.
“This isn’t what anyone wanted at all," said Maya Coover, another former Knead crew member. "I don’t think we saw it going down this way, at least not without having a conversation.”
A message on Knead Pizza’s door from the owners says their decision to close has nothing to do with their employees’ attempt to unionize.
Employees say, while they can’t speculate, they’re not so sure that’s true.
“It certainly seems as though should we had not presented the petition to unionize, the slice shop and Broad Street Market would still be open," said Pierce.
Workers are now taking legal action.
They have filed unfair labor practice charges against Knead, alleging the closure is retaliation for their union efforts.
FOX43 confirmed that action with the National Labor Relations Board.
The fight comes at a time when labor unions are gaining traction across large and small companies alike.
“We’re seeing it across the state and across the country," said Alex Halper, director of government affairs at the PA Chamber of Business and Industry.
Halper says for many small businesses like Knead, a union can be a scary thought.
“It can be very disruptive," said Halper. "It can change the culture of a workplace where employer and employees are used to working together and now you have this third party getting involved and intervening.”
As many continue to recover from the pandemic, he says it’s not something they can bear.
“Now they’re dealing with inflation and supply chain disruptions," said Halper. "It’s a very challenging time and I’m sympathetic to any employer who’s resisting this kind of campaign.”
FOX43 reached out to the owners of Knead Slice Shop, requesting an interview but did not hear back.
“We weren’t trying to shut the place down. I hope that’s obvious," said Pierce. "We want our jobs back. The customers didn’t want them to close. Nobody in the community wanted to see Knead go under.”