From the March-April 2016 issue of News & Letters
New York—Bakery workers established the Hot and Crusty Workers Association a little over three years ago in their historic struggle for the rights of workers and immigrants. But in January, after the union contract with Brod expired, management launched an all-out campaign to destroy the rights the workers had won with so much sacrifice. Bakery owner Hugo Uys threatened to close the unionized store on 63rd Street, claiming financial motives. Yet Brod recently opened a non-union store on West 4th Street, and plans another non-union outlet in Hoboken, N.J.
On Jan. 28, 200 members of more than 15 New York City unions, immigrant and community groups, and students from New York University and City University of New York rallied on West 4th chanting, “Brod workers, we are with you!” The Central Labor Council backed the protest.
The company put up huge posters signed by the restaurant manager openly displaying its hatred for labor, denouncing the union and calling for people to cross the picket line. The next day, Uys fired union president Mahoma Lopez and union member Marcelino Cano. When unionists continued leafleting in defense of the workers, Brod fired another union activist, Leyla Mejía, an Afro-Latina mother of four.
Brod management has now moved to decertify the union. But the union and its supporters are not taking this lying down. On Feb. 19, they held another rally at the bakery on West 4th near NYU. As a consequence, Brod management has now announced plans to shut down both bakeries in Manhattan, rather than dealing with a union driven by the rank and file. The workers have vowed to continue the struggle.
—Worker and union supporter