On March 30th, Tom Cat bakery in Long Island City received an I-9 Audit, requiring the factory to “identify employment eligibility of their employees.” When 31 employees were found to be undocumented, they were told they would be fired on April 21st. As such, labor advocacy group Brandworkers called for a “Day Without Bread,” asking bakeries, cafes, and restaurants around New York City to stop selling pastries for the day to protest the firing of these workers. Protestors demonstrated outside of the Tom Cat factory on Friday, April 21st.
Several restaurants in the city, many owned by immigrants, pledged not to sell baked goods, hanging the protest’s poster proudly in their shop windows. Some advocates even chained themselves to the bakery’s delivery trucks to keep them from leaving, but were arrested shortly after. There was also an online petition for those who could not participate directly but wanted to show their support.
Some of the workers had been with the bakery for over a decade. Oscar Ramirez, one of workers leading the protest, was fired after 12 years of service as soon as the protest was called. By the end of day on April 21st, all 31 immigrants were fired. In a time when immigrant employees are in danger of being separated from their families and the Department of Homeland Security is committing brazen abuses, it is important that employers and customers alike protect and stand with our new American neighbors.