While the question of getting a union contract for the Golden Farm workers remains in limbo till the NLRB judge rules on the charges of Mr Kim’s failure to negotiate. Occupy Kensington will continue to support remaining pro-union workers in the store in whatever way we can. At present the main action we can take is to continue to boycott, encourage our neighbors to do likewise and keep chalking the sidewalk in front of the store so that the public remains aware that there has been no resolution and the boycott is still active. To date the only part of the legal process that has really delivered for the workers has been the class action lawsuit on unpaid minimum wage – they are receiving setllement payments from Mr Kim and he does now pay minimum wage. In addition to that two different pieces of legislation are set to improve their situation somewhat, at state level the minimum wage increased from $7.25 to the still paltry $8/hr on January 1st and Mr Kim has been forced to accept that increase, in 2015 it will rise again to $9.10. At city level last year’s city council bill providing 5 paid sick days per year will come into effect in April and we expect Mr Kim to honor that also (at least as long as the union remains recognized and the workers who organized are in the store). Nationally the need to raise the minimum wage has been becoming a more prominent issue – sparked in large part by the heroic struggle of the Fast Food Workers led by SEIU. While Fast Food Forward called for $15/hr the Democrats in many areas are stepping forward to push for a raise, but less substantial, as with Obama’s raising of the Federal minimum to $10.10. Despite this there is a growing movement to push for $15.
In SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle a $15/hr ballot initative passed last November and In Seattle itself there is now a huge campaign to push for $15 which looks to have every chance of success. If this happens it will encourage similar moves in other large cities. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/24/the-murky-politics-of-the-15-minimum-wage/
While an increase in wages is not a susbsitute for union representation, particularly in a working environment as unpleasant as Golden Farm, it would be a massive practical assist to thousands of working people in NYC, the Golden Farm workers included, and it would be a boost to unionizing drives like the one at Golden Farm, many of which start with a challenge on illegal wages.
This Friday Feb 28, 15now (the campaign started in Seattle) is launching in Brooklyn. https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/288459724637778/ (flyer text attached at the bottom of this post) Occupy Kensington members will be attending.
Next Wednesday, March 5, 7:30pm 309 E5th St, Occupy Kensington will show a movie “Inequality For All” http://inequalityforall.com/ about the plight of low wage workers and the need to raise the minimum wage, we’ll follow that with a discussion about the fight for $15 and how we can best contribute to the struggle of low wage workers.
Please join us at either event.
Help us launch 15 Now in Brooklyn!
Have you heard about Kshama Sawant? Kshama is an outspoken
socialist who was just elected to the Seattle City Council shocking
the political establishment. Her main slogan was for a $15 an
hour minimum wage and now that she’s in office Kshama and her
organization Socialist Alternative has just launched a new grassroots
15 Now (15 Now.org) fighting to raise the minimum
wage in Seattle to $15 an hour. Seattle could be the first major city to
win $15 and if they can win in Seattle we can win here too.
So come help us bring 15 Now to New York and join low-wage
workers across the country fighting for better pay.
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 7pm
St Paul’s Church, 157 St Paul’s Place (Q train Church Ave and B35 bus stop)