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.”
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.”