Dear Mr Kim:
In March, the RWDSU Local 338 asked NYCC and its community supporters to suspend the boycott at Golden Farm. The argument given was that you refused to negotiate on core issues of the contract while the boycott was ongoing. If we, Occupy Kensington, agreed to support the suspension of the boycott, we were told that you would move forward in negotiations. At the time, we were deeply sceptical of this, but the union pressed NYCC, which, in turn, pressured us, the community supporters, to agree to support the suspension of the boycott in the hope that this was a genuine offer on your part. Ending the picket was easy to do. Getting that section of our community who had been actively boycotting your store for seven months (and in many cases longer) to return and shop there was much harder.
Many of your longstanding customers have been deeply shocked by your behavior over the last year. First, we learned of the miserable pay and working conditions to which you subjected your workers. Then, when community members tried to speak to you or Steve, they were treated extremely rudely. Steve has told many of us that it is “none of our business.” To which the obvious response is, “Then you shall have none of our business”.
NYCC may have initiated the boycott idea and the picket may have been the most visible part of it, but we can assure you that a large portion of your lost business in the last year did not result from picketing. Many people in the community simply don’t want to shop at Golden Farm anymore.
When the boycott was suspended, despite our reservations, we acted in good faith to try and encourage the community to return to the store.
It wasn’t easy, many people told us that they were committed not to return to shop in the store until your workers had a fair contract. Others said that, since they became aware of your behavior as an employer, they just didn’t feel comfortable going into your store anymore.
We, Occupy Kensington, encouraged people to return, telling them both that it would help the negotiations and that, if business picked up, you would restore the hours you had cut from the workers’ shifts. It appears we were wrong on both counts.
Last week, Occupy Kensington and NYCC inquired about the status of the contract negotiations between Local 338 and Golden Farm. Based upon the information we received regarding the negotiations, Occupy Kensington has reached the conclusion that it was a mistake to have supported suspending the boycott. NYCC will be re-launching the picket line, and we shall join them on it. Furthermore, Occupy Kensington shall tell all of our community supporters to return to boycotting.
Occupy Kensington will not call off this boycott until the workers have a fair contract, regardless of the actions of Local 338 or NYCC.
We believe it is your hope that you can drag out the negotiating process and ultimately decertify the Union. You may think that you will have won a victory if you do so, but, in fact, you will have permanently lost a substantial portion of what used to be your customer base.
(posted by Eleanor)