Chicago bakery loses 800 workers after immigration raid

The raid cost the company $21.6 million.


An immigration raid at a Chicago bakery lost one-third of its workers earlier this year, with roughly 800 workers who didn’t have “sufficient documentation,” Bloomberg News reported Monday.

Aryzta AG Chief Executive Officer Kevin Toland said the company faces pressure to raise wages and has a long process ahead to replace the 35 percent of workers lost during the raids at Cloverhill Bakery, the publication reported. The company supplies hamburger buns for the McDonald’s Corporation and single-package products for vending machines.

“It’s proceeding very, very slowly because it’s like having a brand new factory and a brand new workforce,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Toland said on the call, according to Bloomberg News. “That’s presenting a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.”

Aryzta AG company — the Zurich-based food service company with various operations on five continents and in the United States– wrote in its 2017 annual report released in October that it faced a “significant labour-related business disruption” at the Cloverfield facilities in Chicago when the raids took place in June and July. The company insisted that the labor force came from a third-party staffing agency so they were unable to check the legal status of their paperwork.


The loss of 800 workers with “significant knowledge and experience of the baking process” has meant not only decreased production from the baking facilities, but a seven percent decline in sales over the summer, Aryzta AG said, noting that the disruption incurred a loss of about $21.6 million for the company.

Earlier this year, the president signed executive orders on immigration to ramp up the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Those orders expanded the type of crimes punishable by deportation and helped to embolden federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to pursue undocumented immigrants without criminal records.

Last month, ICE director Thomas Homan said his agency would crack down harder on worksite enforcement, or efforts to detain more immigrants at workplaces by prosecuting employers “who knowingly harbor the illegal aliens” and “detain[ing] and remov[ing]” the immigrants themselves. Enforcement operations will take place more frequently at national food service chains, according to an internal ICE document obtained by The Daily Beast last week.

Millions of undocumented immigrants work in the food preparation and service industry, with a higher population in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Various workplace raids have taken place in previous administrations, but they dropped off during the Obama administration when ICE shifted its priority from the workers to the employers.