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McDonald’s Bun Supplier Loses 800 Workers in Immigration Raid

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A Chicago bakery is coping with a new workforce

A McDonald’s Big Mac
Courtesy of McDonald’s

A West Side Chicago bakery has been reeling after losing more than one-third of its workforce — 800 employees — in an immigration raid. The owners of Cloverhill Bakery, which opened in 1961 in Galewood and was purchased in 2014 by a Swiss Company, reported they’ve lost $21 million as a result. The bakery used an unnamed staffing agency to make the hires and says it didn’t verify the immigration statuses of its employees, a fairly frequent occurrence in the hospitality and agriculture industries.

Bloomberg, which first reported the story, described the action as one the biggest “headaches” a European company has reported in wake of the Trump administration’s focus on undocumented immigrants. There have been smaller raids targeting food businesses, such as in February in Mississippi, where ICE detained 55 immigrants from local Asian restaurants. However, many raids aren’t made public, as ICE won’t confirm their activities. That leads to rumors about the occurrences of raids all across the country, from North Dakota to Massachusetts to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Consumer prices could be affected, according to Aryzta AG, the bakery’s Swiss parent. The company reported a 7 percent dip in North American sales — “driven entirely by Cloverhill” — for the three-month period after the raid, from September through October. Excluding Cloverhill, the company’s North American revenues increased by 1.3 percent.

Aryzta AG, the bakery’s Swiss parent, also supplies buns for McDonald’s. As the company fills the vacancies, executives on an analyst call described the situation as similar to opening a new bakery with a brand new workforce. Aryzta runs 24 bakeries in America and Canada.

Chicago has already braced for the scrutiny. Back in February, more than 50 restaurants closed for Day Without Immigrants. It’s a Sanctuary City in which city officials vow they’ll protect immigrant workers. That’s great on the local level, but not likely to garner attention of federal lawmakers. However, when a large European conglomerate reports that the new immigration policy has negative effects on its bottom line, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate priorities.

CORRECTION: This story originally stated Cloverhill Bakery makes buns for McDonald’s. While its parent company does at other locations, Cloverhill does not bake buns for McDonald’s in Chicago.

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