BRANDWORKERS, INC

Good Jobs. Local Food

Brandworkers founded in 2007 in Queens, New York, is a membership organization of workers in the local food production industry joining together for dignified jobs and a just food system. Brandworkers members are joining together to:

  • Set new standards on pay, benefits and working conditions in the local food industry;

  • Give workers in this thriving sector a voice on the job;

  • Resist the politics of hate and divisiveness directed at immigrants and people of color; and

  • Forge a new model of organizing to transform the food manufacturing industry in New York.

Using organizing and direct action to negotiate with employers for job quality gains, Brandworkers members have found a durable, flexible model to win major victories throughout the New York area with implications for the labor movement as a whole. In the most recent campaign at Tom Cat Bakery, where workers have been organizing since 2011, Brandworkers members are fighting for the business to adopt simple, widely-accepted best practices to protect workers against any future immigration clampdowns and negotiate a fair severance with workers fired in an immigration audit in 2016. Until Tom Cat officials agree, workers are calling on restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other businesses across NYC to stop serving Tom Cat bread products. At Amy’s Bread, workers are actively organizing to complete negotiations on a groundbreaking workplace justice agreement that protects their rights to continue organizing.

Guiding Vision: One dignified, family supporting employment standard for workers in the local food industry, maintained and enhanced by the agency of rank and file workers.

Results:

  • Won over $340,000 in unpaid wages and a binding code of conduct protecting workplace rights at Wild Edibles, a seafood producer.

  • Co-led a campaign persuading over 120 grocery store locations in NYC to stop selling Flaum Appetizing product; a prominent producer of kosher food, until worker rights were respected. Flaum returned $577,000 in unpaid wages and agreed to a binding workplace code of conduct.

  • Won back $450,000 in restitution and jail time for the owner of Tortilleria Chinantla in Bushwick, Brooklyn after his neglect for safety led to a worker death. or charges stemming from the case.

  • Organized at Tom Cat Bakery to oust an abusive executive, end a system where they were paid less through a sham company, fight off cuts to benefits and win a settlement against organizing retaliation

  • Helped shed a light on the conditions in New York’s local food industry by partnering with the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center to publish Feeding New York, the first report on conditions in NYC food manufacturing from the perspective of workers.

  • Built a coalition including ALIGN, Good Jobs NY, RWDSU, NELP, and many others to successfully incorporate a mandatory code of conduct and increase transparency in a city financing program, the NYC Food Manufacturers Growth Fund, to prevent public dollars from benefitting the local food employers that exploit or mistreat their workers.