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31 immigrant workers at Tom Cat Bakery to be fired Friday, protest begins

Tom Cat (Facebook)

April 19, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

A group of immigrant workers in Long Island City faced with termination on Friday are calling for a “Day Without Bread” throughout the City in protest of Trump’s immigration policies.

Tom Cat Bakery, located at 43-04 10th Street in Long Island City, threatened immigrant workers with mass firings last month if they could not produce new employment documents showing their right to work in the country. The threat came during an investigation in to the bakery by the Department of Homeland Security.

Friday will be the last day of employment for 31 workers at Tom Cat, and in an effort to bring awareness to the issue, the employees will protest outside the bakery and call on restaurants and consumers to refrain from selling and eating bread on Friday.

“We’re taking a stand not just for our families, but for millions of immigrants across New York and the country who are striving for a better life – the same one that we fought so hard to achieve,” said Henry Rivera, a worker at Tom Cat Bakery. “By speaking out, we are hoping to inspire people across the city to take a stand for a more fair and humane immigration policy.”

Several local restaurants have already signed on to the effort. Several Brooklyn-based restaurants will donate a portion of profits on Friday to the Tom Cat Workers relief fund, a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds to cover a month of basic living expenses for the workers after their termination. Colors Restaurant in Manhattan will refrain from serving any bread throughout the day.

“New York City is a world-famous food destination because of immigrant workers like the bakers at Tom Cat, and businesses like mine won’t stand for Trump’s threats to tear apart the fabric of our community,” said Sara Elise, owner of Brooklyn-based catering company Harvest & Revel, which will donate a portion of sandwich sales to the fundraiser. “We are proud to support the Day Without Bread because this city’s food industry needs fair immigration policy, and all New Yorkers deserve respect no matter their country of origin.”

Earlier Tom Cat protest

The fundraising page was started on March 24 after the workers were initially threatened with termination, and has so far raised $28,921 towards the $77,500 goal, which would give each fired worker $2,500 to help cover rent and living expenses for the first month that they are unemployed.

Non-profit group Brandworkers, which has been representing Tom Cat workers since 2011, will also circulate a petition on Friday to encourage consumers to stand up for a less harsh immigration policy in the name of Tom Cat workers.

The protest on Friday comes as the latest effort to stand up to the Tom Cat firings, following several protests and rallies since the announcement in March. The various protests are leading up to a nationwide general strike on May 1, which will encourage immigrant workers throughout the country to stand against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“Our fight will not stop when we walk out of Tom Cat for the last time on April 21,” said Elias Rojas, a worker at Tom Cat Bakery. “We are joining thousands of other immigrant workers across the country in a General Strike on May 1 to intensify our fight against America’s cruel immigration system. We’re not backing down.”

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27 Comments

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lionel q deveraux

anyone actually know what tom cat was paying these people?

what finally did happen on the 21st?

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Anonymous

this is why our young people cannoy easily get jobs, if you have a social security number no one wants you if they can get an illegal to work for half the price, that is why we have americans on welfare and homeless, I know this first hand . I know this first hand, why did the bake company not ask for their credentials in the first place. they did not because they wanted them to work cheap. even an american who is willing to work for less is not hired because companies do not want to pay workmans comp.every construction site in our city is filled with illegals. there are no entry level construction jobs for our young people who do not have the ability to go to college, all this is causing our young to be unemplloyed, enough is enough, the mayor is making this a protective city because he has to cater to the business people who gave him campaihn money and want to employ illegals insted of natural born Americans,

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Jim Rice

Well if ” Homeland Security” if investigating these people then there is more to this story..

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MRLIC

Fine Tom Cat and Deport the Illegal workers. These people had many years to become citizens.

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Anonymous

The government should calculate the number of hours all the illegal employees put in. Then figure out how much Tom Cat underpaid them by not giving them at least the minimum wage for those total hours. Then Tom Cat should have to pay back the city, state and feds all the payroll taxes on those wages. Until I hear people being equally angry at Tom Cat and not just raging about the people who worked there, this story is BS.

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RealTalk 729

The story is not B.S. It’s real, it happened And it’s been happening all over the U.S. by thousands of other companies like Tom Cat. FINE THEM!! DEPORT THEM!!!

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Zul

I agree! They had ample time to apply. Some have been there for years. Not even a TIN #? I’m not sure but hey come on.

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Jake

The audacity to demand treatment as if they have done nothing wrong. They are here illegally, who the hell are they to demand that they be allowed to stay here. When you go to someone’s home you ask if you can stay, you don’t demand. If the host says no, you leave. Ridiculous. I think I am going to buy lots of bread this Friday.

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Anonymous

But your example doesn’t account for the fact that the host also is at fault. They were breaking the law by inviting you to their home and having you stay there for their benefit. Again and again, people are constantly throwing all the blame at the workers and not the business owners.

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Pat

“We’re taking a stand not just for our families, but for millions of immigrants across New York and the country who are striving for a better life – the same one that we fought so hard to achieve,” said Henry Rivera, a worker at Tom Cat Bakery. “By speaking out, we are hoping to inspire people across the city to take a stand for a more fair and humane immigration policy.”

America does have a fair and humane immigration policy It is called come in the front door legally and apply for citizenship …You will be more than welcome ..

Reply
Jon

Meanwhile, 1800 Spectrum cable workers are on strike due to corporate greed, and are receiving no media attention. I’m sorry, but if these workers had authorization to work they would have no issue whatsoever.

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John legal resident

They are lucky they aren’t being arrested since they are illegal aliens let American s or legal resident aliens have those jobs and fine.the owners of Tom cat for employing illegals

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RealTalk 729

The owners definitely need to be fined the maximum amount breaking the I-9 rules. If these workers are in fact illegal,then the owners violated the i-9 rule and broke the law from 1986 – None. Why shouldn’t the be fined?

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Karlin Chan

Immigrant workers fill vacanicies in job markets that others do not want, they are not “taking” away jobs from “America citizens” who require a $75K starting salary.

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Anonymous

This is the same baloney I hear when IT firms claim that they can’t find American programmers and other computer specialists to do work at their firms and then bring in Indians on H1 visas and pay them 25% of what a U.S. gets paid.

We’ve got historic levels of people sitting on the sidelines in this labor market: people who gave up looking for work, people claiming disability because their unemployment ran out, college kids or recent grads with zero work experience being supported by their parents, and even retirees who would like extra income from part-time work. If Tom Cat were paying fair wages, maybe some of these people — Legal American Workers — would be doing at least some of this work instead of undocumented employees.

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your neighbor

No story here. People came to this country knowing that they are not allowed to work. Same as if I went to their country and tried to get a job – though I probably would get caught in the first month.

These are decent jobs, not the share cropper and grape picking jobs in the hot sun that many Americans don’t want.

Hopefully these jobs can go to local legal residents – maybe some people from Queensbridge Houses.

Waiting to find out if Tom Cat gets fined.

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Chris

You were born in your comfortable little sleepers ! You don’t understand what it takes to move away from home and try to make a living in a different place!

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Anonymous

I was born into the slums of this wonderful country it’s wonderful for some not for all I live with what I’ve been dealt with which is a whole bunch of nothing so I signed a nap in my working papers at 16 which was the law and I would love a job

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Oldschool Sunnysider

Where are the illegal immigrant drug lords, rapists and other criminals?
THIS IS BULLSHIT.

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lionel q deveraux

exactly. let the dhs go after ms13 instead of hard working people trying to make a living in this wretched city!

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Anonymous

I am sure JVB will be there without question for his famous photo-op – but wait you have people working here for over 20 years now how come they never became american citizens –

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Sushiray

Cuz it’s not so easy to be illegal and then get to apply for citizenship. Proper protocols will prevent them to ever get it legally, cuz once you answer you either over extended your visa stay or you came illegally you’re black listed.

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