A Former Tom Cat Baker Now Organizes for Food Industry Worker Rights

Facing difficult days, an immigrant baker stands up for the value of his labor.

This story is part of 1 Minute Meal, a documentary series that uses food to reveal the communities, legacies, dreams, realities and unseen forces that shape life in New York City.

Alejandro made bread at New York’s Tom Cat Bakery for 10 years. In April of 2017—when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement performed an I-9 audit of the company—he was given 12 days to leave his job, without severance or support.

Since that day, Alejandro has joined other food industry workers in the city to organize for more humane treatment. For him and for others who have quietly built productive lives in the United States, the dream is simple: a future where their hard work is recognized as a contribution.

This story does not have any footage of Alejandro baking, because taking such footage would place undue stress and risk on him. Please appreciate this more direct glimpse into his perspective, and support his efforts by following @brandworkers. You can read more about Tom Cat recent news on Edible Queens.

This is the 30th of 30 video stories on food and life in New York City created by @oneminutemeal and published in collaboration with Edible Manhattan, Edible Queens, Edible Bronx, and the Staten Island AdvanceSubscribe to 1 Minute Meal to see a food films from all five boroughs.

Special thanks to Alejandro, Diana, Gabriel, other Alejandro, Angel, Ricardo and Neil.

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James Boo is a multimedia journalist based in Brooklyn. As Editor-in-Chief of Real Cheap Eats, an independent filmmaker, and a freelance food writer, James has devoted his storytelling career to the intersection of food and culture. You can see more episodes of this web series at oneminutemealfilms.com.