Relief for Workers Resisting ICE
SUPPORT IMMIGRANT WORKERS BEING TARGETED BY ICE!
On Wednesday, March 15, workers at Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, NY, were told by management that they must provide proof of work authorization within 10 business days or face termination. Management claimed that this was the result of an audit being performed by the Department of Homeland Security.
All of the workers affected have chosen to fight. The workers and their allies held a march and press conference the following week on Wednesday, March 22 (see press coverage below) and continue to organize for justice – both for themselves and as a model of resistence against the Trump administration's anti-immigrant agenda.
Should termination come to bear, up to 31 workers may be fired. To help them meet essential expenses, like rent and food, we are raising a month's salary for each – $77,500 total, at an average of $2,500 per worker. This will offer them the small comfort of having one month of basic costs covered.
Please give whatever you can afford and share this appeal as widely as possible. Let's show the Trump administration that we will not stand idly by as our friends and neighbors are persecuted.
WHO WE ARE
This GoFundMe campaign was established by Tom Cat worker Osias Davila and Brandworkers, a non-profit organization that brings food manufacturing workers together to fight for good jobs and a sustainable food system. Every single cent raised by this campaign will go directly to the affected workers.
Here's an update for you from New York Daily New's coverage of Friday's powerful #DayWithoutBread actions led by Brandworkers members at Tom Cat Bakery:
After years of raising dough for their company, they were tossed out the door like crusty old bread.
Two workers forced to leave a Queens bakery because of their immigration status are now fighting for severance pay — outraged that they were let go as part of President Trump’s harsh new policies.
“It’s so unfair what happened,” Alejandro Teutle, 28, told the Daily News through a translator Saturday. “Me and my co-workers gave many years of hard work ... a lot of work ... to lift up the company and to make it what it is today.
“We deserve better because we have worked very hard,” he said.
Four cuffed in protest for immigrants workers to stay at bakery
Teutle, a native of Puebla, Mexico, was one of about 15 Tom Cat Bakery workers looking for new employment after the Department of Homeland Security initiated a 1-9 audit and identified 26 immigrant workers at the Long Island City business who had to show proof they can legally work in the U.S.
Teutle had been working at Tom Cat since coming to the U.S. in 2006. The father of a 2-year-old son was a bakery “proofer” and spent his days inspecting the dough to make sure it’s ready for baking.
Teutle officially became unemployed Friday after he could not provide proper paperwork about his immigration status.
He and about a dozen others are working with the advocacy group Brandworkers, fighting for a better severance package.
Currently, Tom Cat is offering one week’s pay for every year of service, plus cashed-out sick, holiday and vacation days, and health care for 90 days, according to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which has represented the endangered Tom Cat employees since the crisis arose.
“What they offered was crumbs, and we deserve more,” said Teutle, who relied on his salary to provide for his boy, as well as his parents, two sisters and a brother back in Mexico.
Worker Manuel Lema is also looking for a new job after a decade of employment with Tom Cat.
The 51-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, who has been in the U.S. for two decades, was the main breadwinner for his wife and three children.
“When the audit happened it really bothered us a lot,” Lema said. “I feel that it came as part of the persecution on immigrants from Trump.
“I work very hard producing bread day by day to feed New Yorkers and other people in other states that receive bread from Tom Cat,” he added. “I work hard so that they can put bread on their table. When this happened I felt saddened and disappointed.”
“They don’t want to acknowledge that we have dignity,” Lema said about Tom Cat.
Word of the mass termination has sparked several protests at both the bakery and Trump Tower.
On Friday, five supporters working with Brandworkers were arrested after they handcuffed themselves to a delivery truck in the hopes of halting company production for the day.
As you know, at Tom Cat Bakery we have been fighting back against a cruel attack that threatens to separate our families and upend our lives. In calling for a #DayWithoutBread, we are asking allies and supporters to refrain from eating or selling bread and to join us at 6am in front of Tom Cat Bakery to send a strong message.
The raid at Tom Cat Bakery is just a snapshot of the clampdown against immigrants hitting communities across the country. By speaking out and standing together, we are hoping to inspire people of conscience around the country to take a stand for a more fair and humane immigration policy. Our fight will not stop when we walk out of Tom Cat for the last time on April 21. Me and my co-workers 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 calling on fellow workers around the country, particularly, immigrants, indigenous peoples, African Americans and members of other marginalized communities to rise with us. Will you join us?
Our protest at Trump Tower last Saturday drew wall-to-wall press coverage in New York City, and even the nation, and prompted an outpouring of support from elected leaders, including NYC Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Brad Lander.
The New York Daily News spoke with fellow Tom Cat Bakery worker Ana Campos Saturday about why immigrant workers at the factory are speaking out: “We work hard, pay taxes and have built Tom Cat into a hugely successful company that helps make New York City’s economy strong. We refuse to be discarded like stale bread,” Campos said.
On Sunday, fellow Tom Cat Bakery worker Hector Solis was a guest on Jose Diaz-Balart’s show on Telemundo. Solis, who has worked at Tom Cat for 12 years, told Diaz-Balart that he relies on his job to support his family, and after suffering a heart attack several years ago, he fears losing his job along with his health insurance.
Please continue to help share our relief fund with your friends and family. While our initial protest helped the company start a productive discussion with us, the company has since stopped working with us to help protect our rights and honor our years of hard work that made the company what it is today. Its actions set a bad precedent for how companies should respond to anti-immigrant actions across the country. Please join us to protest this Friday, the day that we are being threatened with being fired, to show the business community that we expect them to support the immigrant workers who feed us all. RSVP here: bit.ly/BrandworkersResist and we’ll keep you posted with further details in the coming days.
Read more about today's protest here: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/04/08/us/ap-us-bakers-defy-trump.html?_r=0