St. Paul’s 30-year-old Saint Agnes Bakery Co. was forced to abruptly close back in January, just before it was supposed to deliver massive amounts of bread and buns for the Super Bowl. The sudden shutter came as the result of an ICE immigration audit, which found that multiple undocumented workers had been employed at the facility, in some cases for years. Now CEO Dan “Klecko” McGleno and operations manager Mike Mitchelson are finally ready to speak about what happened back in January, settling months of speculation.
The wholesale bakery, which supplied many area grocery stores as well as restaurants, was part of a late 2017 ICE audit that found half of its employees ineligible for work. Despite rumors, Mitchelson explained to MRP News that the closure was very quiet — just some letters — and that there was no raid on the facility.
According to the report, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has audited at least 34 companies from January 2017 until April 2018. St. Agnes Baking Co. was just one. ICE would not comment on the story, nor does it ever disclose statistics in relation to its investigations.
In December, the bakery received a letter requesting three years worth of I-9 employment eligibility forms. The bakery quickly turned over its employment records and waited for a second ICE letter, which notified the company that 23 of its employees still needed to show proper authorization for employment. When they could not, the employees — some of whom had worked at St. Agnes Baking Co. for years, and whom McGleno considered friends — had to be terminated.
When new potential hires, who would require the skill to operate the machinery, work the dough and show up for the demanding early morning hours of a commercial bakery, could not be found, St. Agnes Baking Co.’s options were slim. Within days the company alerted its commercial customers, including restaurants like Revival, Loon Cafe and more, that they would close. All of St. Agnes Baking Co.’s employees stayed on until the end, pulling down an 80 hour week to get their final orders out the door.
“The truth is that first world nations are using illegal work forces to bolster their economy,” said McGleno. “It’s going on all over the world and the sad thing about this is that the illegals bust their ass to bring your life value and luxury. Plain and simple. Most buildings in your neighborhood are filled with cleaners, cooks and general laborers. These people provide these benefits to you while living in abject fear.
“I don’t like standing on soap boxes because it seldom makes impact, but just for today I am announcing to my community and government. I stand by Mexicans and all people who work hard for a better life.”