March 22, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan
Immigrant workers at a Long Island City bakery rallied today after they were threatened with mass firings.
According to workers, Tom Cat Bakery, an industrial bakery at 43-05 10th Street in LIC, threatened about 30 immigrant workers with firings last week following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
The employees said that they were told they would be fired after 10 business days if they did not provide new employment documents indicating they were legally able to work in the US.
“We work hard, pay taxes and have given so much to make Tom Cat into a hugely successful company,” said Sabino Milian, a worker at the factory. “We refuse to be thrown away like the bakery’s garbage, and we will advance forward together.”
The workers are all members of Brandworkers, a non-profit that brings food manufacturing workers together to fight for good jobs and a sustainable food system. They decided that rather than give in to the demands of the factory, they would protest instead.
“Tom Cat has a golden opportunity to act responsibly and stand up to the President Trump’s harsh immigration policies,” said Haeyoung Yoon, director of strategic partnerships for the National Employment Law Project. “The company can and should be a leader by doing all it within the bounds of the law to protect its workers who have baked and delivered their bread and built their company.”
In addition to asking Tom Cat to stand up to the Department of Homeland Security and preserve their jobs, the employees called on other workers throughout the country to protest with them, and eventually to hold a nationwide general strike on May 1.
“We risked a lot to come to this country in order to make a better life for our kids,” said Tom Cat worker Librada Antigua. “The Trump administration may want us to disappear, but I’m not leaving my children for anything. Our unity is our strength, and our commitment is to victory.”
Tom Cat Bakery is an arm of one of the world’s largest multi-national baking companies, Yamazaki Baking. It provides bread to Citarella Gourmet Market, Darden Restaurants and the Grand Hyatt, among other companies.
The company was not immediately available for comment.