Why I am Boycotting Golden Farm
By: Neil S. Weintraub, Kensington resident
I admit it. When the boycott at Golden Farm started, I was skeptical. In fact, I was more than skeptical, I was cynical; I thought it was ridiculous. “Who are these people?” I thought, and I scoffed at the idea that standing in front of the store for a few hours a week would have any effect at all.
Don’t get me wrong. I support the workers all the way. It’s just that, well, Golden Farm is a pretty good place to shop. Not as big as a full fledged super-market, but the produce is usually fresh, there’s a good variety of dry goods, and-most of all- the prices are great! So good, in fact, that if an occasional strawberry rots before I get to it, there is no hard feelings. Yes, the prices are great.
Well, it turns out there is a good reason why the prices are so low. Mr. Kim, the owner, was not paying his workers very well. There were no benefits, no sick days, no health care. And you know what? If I had stopped to think about it for a minute I would have realized that. Well, it’s a tough economy.- it’s a small grocery store, what do you expect? The workers probably want me to shop there. After all, if no one shops there, why would Mr. Kim need to keep them on?
Then I found out that Mr. Kim was not even paying his workers minimum wage. That’s a bit of a problem. The minimum wage in New York State is $7.25 an hour. People who work a seven hour shift at this rate earn $58 per day, or $290 per week. People who work full time at the minimum wage and have a family of four are living below the poverty line.
AND MR. KIM WAS PAYING THEM LESS THAN THIS.
Still, a boycott seemed severe. Maybe a letter writing campaign, maybe if we shop there and ask to speak to him, and try to talk some sense into him-these are things I could more easily get behind. Then I heard that the courts were involved. This made me feel better-it would all get worked out. Then I heard that Mr. Kim had agreed to pay the workers minimum wage. Besides, the cashiers told me that some of these workers weren’t such nice guys; weren’t hard workers; partied too much.
The truth is, though, I enjoyed the convenience and the low prices. But I realized that I was guilty. Mr. Kim is paying these guys with my money. The prices are low because the workers are poor. It is really that simple. The very thing that I liked about the store is the very thing that is wrong with it. If Mr. Kim is guilty of cheating the workers, then I am his accomplice. I am in on the scam, and, just like Mr. Kim, I am profiting from their poverty.
I miss shopping at Golden Farm. Really. I particularly miss the cashews. But I miss the reasonably priced milk, yogurts, oh, and that delicious thick round bread that I can’t seem to find either at Foodtown or Fairway. I am eager to go back there. But I can’t shop in a place where I can’t look the workers in the eye because I am stealing from them.
I am boycotting Golden Farm because I need to make up for my participation in the unfair treatment that I was a part of. I am not angry. I don’t think Mr. Kim is evil or greedy. I think he was kind of like me- unaware of how important this is. I hope Mr. Kim can see my boycott as an opportunity for him to do the right thing here. When he does, I’ll be first on the check-out line.