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Tom Cat Bakery stands up for workers

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Food workers deserve economic and social justice. They deserve respect, good compensation and great benefits. They also deserve to have their story told fairly and accurately.

I regret that this newspaper has done an injustice to local bakery workers by spreading misinformation about Tom Cat Bakery’s handling of a random I-9 audit carried out by the Department of Homeland Security. Those who truly want to advocate for food workers deserve to have the facts.

We are disappointed that eight former employees chose not to accept our severance offer and continue to advocate for the boycott, (not 20, as stated repeatedly by the TimesLedger), but we are gratified that 13 of the 21 affected workers accepted the severance offer we negotiated with their union. One of those 13 has already returned to work at Tom Cat Bakery after providing the legally required documents. These are verifiable facts.

Tom Cat Bakery has baked artisan bread in Long Island City for the past 30 years. While other businesses have moved away to less expensive locations, we’ve chosen to remain here, employing members of the community where we got our start.

While we could not legally resist the DHS audit, we did all we could to help our employees. After our attorneys secured an extension from DHS to allow more time to provide documentation, we sat down with BCTGM Local 53, the union that has represented our employees for more than a decade. Local 53 leaders arranged to have immigration attorneys and other resources available to help. We came up with a severance offer that included one week’s pay for each year of service and 90 days of continued health care benefits or their cash equivalent. We also guaranteed that we would rehire workers who demonstrated the appropriate legal status.

We take pride in providing our employees competitive salaries, paid time off, and being one of the only artisan bakeries in New York City to provide full medical and dental coverage. For a contribution of less than $10 per month, our employees receive full coverage for themselves, their spouses and dependents. These are the actions to protect food workers that we think should set the standard for our industry.

Peter Sonenstein

Vice President

Tom Cat Bakery

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Helton from Flushing says:
I want to know why you didn't "provide competitive salaries, paid time off, and being one of the only artisan bakeries in New York City to provide full medical and dental coverage." to American citizens instead of illegal aliens from the very beginning?
Dec. 7, 2017, 2:12 pm

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