Amy’s Bread Workers Achieve Recognition at the Museum of the City of New York

Amy’s Bread CEO breaks her silence by adding classic anti-worker messaging to round out the exhibit.

The voice of Amy’s Bread workers has been heard! Visitors to the Museum of the City of New York spotted quite a mismatch: an Amy’s Bread cafe right next to the “City of Workers, City of Struggle” labor exhibition. Brandworkers members at the Amy’s Bread factory in Queens are part of the lineage of NYC workers in struggle against abusive employers the exhibit showcased. 

Refusing to be made invisible, Brandworkers members came together with noted labor scholars, museum professionals, community organizations, and allies of all stripes. Many signed a petition, others shared content online, and some generously utilized personal relationships with museum leaders. In response, the museum posted a notice about Brandworkers’ Amy’s Bread campaign. When the museum engaged the company, Amy’s Bread finally responds after walking away from the negotiations with workers just short of a final agreement.

Fit for a museum archive, the result was like performance art of classic anti-worker messaging. (pictured above)

While we look forward to the day when this kind of classic union-busting jargon is a relic of the past, today we know for sure: workers will fight on until they achieve a workplace justice agreement that ensures safety, fair raises, and a voice on the job. 

Let’s breakdown some highlights from Amy’s show:

  • In a typical boss self-congratulation for providing light and air, Amy boasts her “kitchens have excellent working conditions with all new lighting, lots of windows for natural light, good ventilation…” Meanwhile experienced bakers report inadequate equipment is causing health hazards and injuries. Workers know what they’re talking about!
  • Amy’s brags of worker retention and paying “fair wages to production employees, who earn from $15 and up,” while workers report widespread raise stagnation forces many to work two jobs just to meet basic needs. Why should workers with 10-26 years experience have to struggle to make ends meet? (PS. $15 is the minimum wage-not impressive Amy!)
  • Boasting “our HR Manager… speaks fluent Spanish and listens to all concerns brought forward,” sets a pretty low standard for the basic ability to communicate with workers. Furthermore, how does the company hear from those who don’t speak Spanish, particularly Black immigrant workers from non-Spanish speaking countries? Amy’s Bread profits enormously from the hard work of the largely immigrant workforce, but immigrant workers are not some undifferentiated mass!
  • The company claims to “actively encourage our staff to communicate directly with all managers, including Amy, who maintains an open door policy…”→Reality Check: Workers have brought their concerns to Amy directly and she’s repeatedly turned them away despite promising to resume negotiations. Since Amy continuously blocks that “open door” workers will collectively fight on  until a workplace justice agreement is achieved.
  • A classic attempted erasure of worker organizing: “After…meetings with this organization” Amy concluded “further discussion wouldn’t be beneficial.”

→Reality Check: “this organization” is Amy’s Bread workers! That’s who it is. Workers want to talk with Amy’s Bread directly, to be heard on an ongoing basis, and to negotiate for the good jobs they deserve.