Bakers, packers, sandwich makers, and cleaners at the Amy’s Bread factory in Queens, New York, are hitting the streets again to defend our dignity at work.
Today, we’re demanding that owner Amy Scherber return to negotiations with us and we’re calling on food retailers that carry the bakeries’ products to stand with us. Why now? In 2013, many of us were fed up with painfully low wages and a mismanaged workplace. We organized with Brandworkers and the Industrial Workers of the World to campaign for dignified jobs and make real the sustainable image of Amy’s Bread. The company pushed back, but after a year, it ultimately accepted negotiations. We made important strides improving our health care, the compensation system for truck drivers, earning some wage increases, winning a non-retaliation pledge, and more. For the most part, we’ve been able to negotiate with management and improve the company without further conflict.
But now on the final stretch of negotiating the workplace justice agreement with us, management has pulled away from the process and is ignoring our voices. They haven’t even given us a reason why. The company’s stubbornness is allowing workplace injuries to proliferate, wages to stagnate, and disrespectful treatment to return. We have been patient, but we are absolutely done waiting. We are food workers with families to feed of our own and the vital work we do deserves a safe, well-run factory environment. Today, our Amy’s Bread coworkers, backed by conscious eaters across New York City and beyond go back to an adversarial campaign, forced by the unwillingness of management to hear our voices. We delivered a letter to Amy Scherber today demanding a return to the table and pledging to earn the support of the company’s grocery store and restaurant customers. Past Brandworkers’ campaign victories have seen hundreds of New York City’s most prominent restaurants and grocery stores drop a manufacturers’ products until workers’ rights have been respected.
This fight is about our jobs and our families, but it’s about more than that. We’re among hundreds of workers of color organizing for family-supporting wages and a voice at work in local food food factories, now the City’s largest manufacturing sector. Local food manufacturing could be providing high-quality employment for communities with a scarcity of good jobs. But too many of these factories rely on exploiting workers of color, particularly immigrants, who face an increasing risk of family separation and job loss through attacks by ICE. These jobs hand-crafting high quality, local food products become good jobs when workers like us organize to change them. We won’t stop our campaign until Amy’s Bread ensures a safe work environment to eliminate preventable injuries, consistent raises to increase our economic security, and the ability to contribute our expertise into how work is conducted at the factory. Who makes Amy’s Bread? Workers do and we will win the jobs that we deserve. Brandworkers Members at Amy’s Bread