Amy’s Bread factory workers call for an end to understaffing, unsafe conditions, and stagnant wages
Community members and elected officials rally in support of workers
Long Island City, NY — Workers at the Amy’s Bread factory delivered a letter today to the bakery’s owner, Amy Scherber, demanding that management return to the table to negotiate a workplace justice agreement. The mostly immigrant workforce is contending with understaffing, unsafe conditions, and stagnant wages, among other pressing issues at the company. The letter includes statements of support from community members and elected officials who support the workers’ effort.
New York City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said, “I stand with workers organizing for a safe work environment and dignified jobs at Amy’s Bread. I hope to see Amy continue open and positive dialogue with these workers and finish negotiations for a workplace justice agreement.”
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney also articulated her support for the campaign: “I am proud to stand with the workers at Amy’s Bread who are advocating for a safe work environment and fair livable wages. I look forward to hearing about open and positive progress made between Amy and these workers and to a completion of negotiations for a workplace justice agreement.”
In support of their demands, workers have earned the support of community members and workers across the food supply chain.
Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg of Malkhut said, “Before we eat bread, we Jews thank God for the labor and love that is required to ‘bring forth bread from the earth.’ As a rabbi, I stand with workers, whose labor nourishes us. Workers at Amy’s Bread deserve a safe workplace and dignified working conditions. I call on Amy to come back to the table to finish negotiations for a workplace justice agreement.”
Catherine Barnett of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) said, “The City’s restaurant workers stand with Amy’s Bread workers organizing for dignified jobs. We ask Amy Scherber to come back to the negotiating table.”
Amy’s Bread has worked for years to cultivate a community and worker friendly image. Yet, workers report that the lack of adequate equipment at the factory is causing increased health hazards and injuries. Many have to work two jobs just to meet basic household expenses. Input from workers on improving the company’s operations goes unheard.
“We are organizing because of mistreatment – the work that we do is not valued – and because of overwork,” says Máximo Carhuamaca who has worked at the factory for over 8 years. “Amy Scherber doesn’t take workers into consideration.”
Workers emphasize the broader implications of their efforts to make change at Amy’s Bread. As the largest manufacturing sector in New York City, local food manufacturing could be providing high-quality employment for communities with a scarcity of good jobs. Instead, many of these factories rely on exploiting workers of color, particularly immigrants.
Rocío Candelo, who has worked at the factory for 7 years, expresses this larger vision, “I’m fighting for my rights and for my ideals. I’m fighting because all workers should have a right to their views and their voices should count.”
Since 2013, workers at Amy’s Bread have been organizing with Brandworkers. Brandworkers is a non-profit organization that brings food manufacturing workers together to fight for good jobs and a sustainable food system.