Petaluma's Alvarado Street Bakery plans layoffs

Alvarado Street Bakery, a Petaluma cooperative once touted by filmmaker Michael Moore as a successful alternative to traditional business structures, is laying off an undisclosed number of support workers as it seeks to reorganize and survive in what its executive called a “very competitive market.”

The affected employees work in retailer support services for the organic bakery, said Kevin Haslebacher, the cooperative’s general coordinator and CEO. He declined to say how many workers are being let go but did reveal that about half of the affected employees work in Sonoma County, while the rest were assigned to field offices in the South Bay and Central Valley.

Haslebacher acknowledged that some laid-off workers “were quite upset, understandably.” But he said the layoffs were done “within the guidelines and bylaws of the cooperative” and he suggested that competition was forcing the bakery “to make a very difficult decision.”

“A cooperative can only sustain if the business can sustain,” Haslebacher said.

Alvarado was featured in Moore’s 2009 documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” At the time the cooperative had 117 employees and 24 million in annual revenues. The company’s website places the worker headcount at 116.

The bakery, with roots dating back to 1979, distributes breads, bagels and buns across the country. Sales are concentrated on the West and East coasts, Haslebacher said.

Most of the baked goods are made from sprouted grains and without flour.

“We were kind of the niche player in that space for many, many years,” Haslebacher said of the baked goods. But larger brands are now offering similar products and “it’s been very challenging for a small company like Alvarado.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or On Twitter @rdigit

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