New York City restaurants including Le Bernardin, The Spotted Pig, Jean-George Restaurant, El Quinto Pino and Txikito have been forced into the immigration debate after their bread supplier Tom Cat was inspected by Department of Homeland Security officials. The result of the inspection was that 21 employees lost their job making bread. The group Rise and Resist along with Brandworkers insists that the company should have done more to protect its worker and give them better benefits after they were forced to quit.
Rise and Resist along with the local group Brandworkers who they helped organized just for the impacted workers insists that Tom Cat has not treated the workers fairly. They believe that Tom Cat knew about the coming crackdown for two to three months, but they did not inform affected workers. They insist that Tom Cat and parent company Yamazaki have refused to meet with them in good faith. They insist that workers who agreed to the compensation plan offered by Tom Cat were coerced into doing so by their economic circumstances.
Tom Cat believes that it has been fair to the affected workers. They say that the affected workers were informed that they needed to update their paperwork as soon as the company received notification from the Obama administration. They also say that they negotiated with Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union to create a severance package. Each worker received one full week of pay for each year they were with the company. They also received health insurance for 90 days and all personal and vacation days were paid. They also gave workers six months to provide proof that they could legally work in the United States and get their job back without any loss of benefits or pay.
Affected restaurants have made different decisions. Some are continuing to use Tom Cat while others have moved to a different company.