Statement after November 2017 Park Slope Food Coop General Meeting
We started this struggle together and we’ve faced a lot of obstacles, but we haven’t given up. From the beginning, we’ve been told not to fight, we’ve been told to run away, we’ve been told to hide, we’ve been told to just shut up and accept Tom Cat’s offer - just accept the offer and keep quiet, but we continue to fight, not just for us, but for everyone who’s been in such an unjust situation, for our co-workers still in the factory who are at-risk. We want to let all immigrant workers know that we shouldn’t hide and we shouldn’t remain quiet. Just like my compañeros and I have done - all of us can fight for our rights. - Hector Solis, Former Tom Cat Baker, 12 Years
On Tuesday, despite voting to drop Tom Cat Bakery products with a nearly 60% supermajority, the Park Slope Food Coop could not come to an agreement on whether to continue carrying the embattled bakery’s products. In the UN Security Council, passage of draft resolutions on anything from the condemnation of human rights violations to a request for the peaceful transition of power requires a 60% supermajority. At the Park Slope Food Coop, deciding whether to stand with immigrant workers requires 75%.
The community of immigrant worker leaders who make up Brandworkers collectively celebrates the supermajority of Park Slope Food Coop members who heard their call for justice. We celebrate the brave leadership of the Coop’s Labor Committee, who despite endless obstacles placed in front of them, refused to reward a company inexplicably rejecting the implementation of basic immigrant worker protections. We celebrate the nearly 60% of the Coop honoring the legacy of members unflinchingly standing against the racist South African Apartheid regime, members standing by immigrant workers throughout the UFW’s historic grape boycott. We are proud to be your allies.
The Coop’s decision came the same day we learned of 800 immigrant workers in Chicago displaced by yet another ICE audit, the heartache, the trauma of the last 8 months multiplied by 40. What, if any, policies did that bakery have in place to protect immigrant workers? Has that bakery tossed those workers aside like Tom Cat was willing to do, before workers organizing with Brandworkers came together and decided to fight back? In this moment of U.S. history, with a President and an administration reviving the country’s worst nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to further arm ICE’s monstrous attacks, we honor the 60% for being part of a proud tradition of resistance at the Coop.
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s vote makes the Coop a talking point, not just at Tom Cat Bakery, but at every other company in the country refusing to implement common sense policies to protect immigrant workers. “Treat your immigrant workforce however you want. You will not be held accountable.” Tuesday’s vote shows us that we have a lot of work ahead of us, obstacles facing us in the broader US Labor, immigrant, and racial justice movements, and in a movement to make sustainability more than a buzzword to sell more products, to make sustainability a real standard improving the lives of working people across the planet.
Sometimes, winning the popular vote is not enough. Tuesday’s vote also shows us that the majority of New Yorkers continue to reject ICE’s assaults and the motives behind them. We celebrate and are encouraged by that fact.
We are winning the struggle at Tom Cat because the majority of New Yorkers stand with immigrants and not ICE, including some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants. On Tuesday, we learned that The Spotted Pig, April Bloomfield’s acclaimed Manhattan restaurant, joined Le Bernardin by dropping Tom Cat Bakery products from their menu, including in one of the restaurant's world famous signature dishes.
With your support, we are winning. Come help us finish this fight. Join an already dynamic group of action teams around the city educating Tom Cat customers. Create your own group and adopt a restaurant still purchasing Tom Cat. Go to http://bit.ly/tomcatworkersrising and download the community solidarity kit or send us a message here to get involved. We remain determined, we remain committed with you all in struggle and to building worker power strong enough to change the world.