LI workers say unionization efforts countered with deportation threat

Some workers at Tate's Bake Shop say they want to unionize but are facing threats not to, while the company says that's simply not true.

Video Transcript

- Story this half hour, battle taking place at a popular cookie company on Long Island.

- Some workers at Tate's Bake Shop say they want to unionize, but they say they're facing threats not to do it. The company says that's not true.

- Eyewitness News Reporter Stacey Sager has reaction from both sides.


STACEY SAGER: It was a workers protest this company was glad to allow for cameras today. Dozens of factory workers shouting, we are with Tate's cookies, here in East Moriches, and telling us they're against unionizing.

- Everything is going good. No problem.

- I feel that the union is trying to bogard their way into our company at this point.

STACEY SAGER: All of this happening at a time when other workers at Tate's are getting set to vote on joining this division of the AFL-CIO, which has now set up a storefront in the community just for them. Workers, mostly undocumented immigrants, too afraid to put their faces or voices on camera but describing what they consider unsafe conditions.

- Right now it's really bad. We all work together in the lines. There is no social distancing and there is already two of them that are very sick at the hospital.

STACEY SAGER: But they say the worst part is that the company is using their immigration status against them.

COSMO LUBRANO: Then they began telling them that if you unionize, the union is going to ask for documents. And then, if you don't have the proper documents, they're going to deport you, they're going to report you, and send you back to your country.

STACEY SAGER: For its part, a spokesperson for Tate's, now owned by Mondelez International, a much larger corporation, telling us the claims are, quote, "inaccurate and have no basis in fact." That, "immigration status does not impact their ability to unionize."

Meanwhile, here in Southhampton, Tate's Bake Shop has retained its small town feel as a staple in this community for more than two decades, even though its founder has now sold the company for hundreds of millions of dollars. And while it's known for its sweet cookies, right now a union dispute turning very sour as union ballots go out at the end of the month.