St. Patrick Boycotts!

If you hang around the picket line at Golden Farm long enough you’ll see and hear most anything…St. Patrick and his snakes showed up in Kensington today! Too bad he can’t drive Sonny, Sharon and Steve away from Golden Farm. You’re lucky St. Pat can’t go within five feet of your store Sonny! What? You don’t believe St. Patty was here today? Here’s proof!

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Golden Charm!

For more pictures from today’s picket line check out Gerald Levy’s pics.

Ruben was also there and took the time to explain why he supports the boycott:

 

The boycott of the store started on August 18. Today marks the 7th month monthiversary of the Golden Farm boycott. When will the boycott end? When Golden Farm owner Sonny Kim signs a contract that guarantees the workers the most basic benefits that all workers deserve: paid sick days, paid vacation, personal days, raises,and job security. Is that too much to ask?

So long as the workers who organized to file a lawsuit to recover stolen wages and unionize for respect and dignity remain in the store and ask the community for their support in their struggle we will remain firm outside of Golden Farm. Besides, if we made it through the last three months, picketing in the spring will be a piece of cake!

Why should we continue to boycott?

1. The workers want our support.

2. It is the right thing to do.

3. Everyone deserves paid sick days, vacation days, personal days, raises and job security.

4. To kinda quote George W. Bush, you are either with the workers who are fighting for justice, dignity and respect OR you are with the boss that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his employees and watched while one of his employees passed away because he did not have paid sick days. Which side are you on?

5. The wages and conditions of immigrant workers are the floor of our economy. Either our wages and conditions are going to go down to their level, or we are going to figure out ways to help low wage immigrant workers raise their wages and conditions up to our levels. [from “No one is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S – Mexico Border” pg. 119]

6. The boycott is effective, otherwise Sonny wouldn’t have sued for $3 million in losses and sat down to negotiate four times; and because neighbors are boycotting!

7. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

8. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

9. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

10. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

11. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

12. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

13. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

14. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

15. We refuse to lose and give Sonny the satisfaction of breaking the workers and our will.

WE REFUSE TO LOSE!!!!!

Contract now for the workers! Justice for Felix Trinidad!

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Boycott supporters SPEAK!

Video

Yesterday we heard from the workers. Today, check out this video to hear from some of the Kensington neighbors that choose to support the Golden Farm workers and boycott!

Why I am Boycotting Golden Farm

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.

Boycotters arrested

An eyewitness account from Kensington resident Gibb Surette:

Sonny Kim has been trying for months to get picketers in front of Golden Farm arrested, on every pretext from “interference” with his business to his claim at one point that he actually owned the sidewalk.  At mid-day on Sunday, December 9, he saw his chance.  An NYCC staffer named Andres, and a community volunteer named Marty got out of the the cold rain for a bit by stepping temporarily under the awning and within five feet of the building.  Sonny got them on video and immediately called the NYPD to enforce a protective order.  There had been a legal agreement that included NYCC keeping picketing five feet from the store, but converting this into a criminally enforceable protective order should have required, among other things, notice to NYCC.  Apparently, no one at NYCC had received such notice, but Sonny is notorious for providing false statements to public authorities (e.g. the NYS Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board), so he may have told the court that the legally required notice had been given.  In any case, Andres and Marty, by then back out in the rain near the curb, were relieved of all objects on their persons, placed in handcuffs, and hauled off to the 66th Precinct.   The two brothers had been alone on the line.  Pretty clearly, Sonny hoped that he would eliminate the picket for the afternoon, perhaps leaving signs and literature unguarded.  However, just before the arrests took place, I arrived for my usual Sunday shift as a neighborhood boycott volunteer.  NYCC staff were alerted, the organization’s criminal lawyer was quickly brought into play, and word went out to community supporters, who began showing up in front of the store to keep the picket going.
Meanwhile, between talking to potential customers as usual, recounting Sonny’s history of theft and fraud, I amused myself with  a text very similar to the following, which I bellowed into the store at the top of my lungs: “Sonny Kim!  You can cut hours and wages in retaliation!  It’s illegal, but you’ve done it!  You can try to avoid a union by committing fraud!  You’ve done that, too!  You can stall recognition and negotiation for months!  You’ve done that!  Sonny, you can threaten workers with everything imaginable, up to and including the loss of their homes, and you have done that!  Obviously, you can get picketers taken away in cuffs for stepping out of the rain!  You’ve just done that!  But, Sonny, intimidation has not made the issues–or us–go away!  And it’s not going to!  Sonny, if you want the pickets and the boycott to go away, it’s very simple!  GIVE THE WORKERS SOME JUSTICE!”
Some of the people I spoke to characterized Sonny’s actions in getting Andres and Marty arrested as “disgusting”, or said “I understand now, and I’m not coming back”, or simply observed, “You’re winning”.

Why is the boycott working?

Because the Kensington community believes in paid sick days and a living wage. Or at least a VERY NOTICEABLE percentage of the people. How much exactly? Hard to quantify. Sonny did sue NYCC for $3 million dollars and alleged in his suit that since October 2011, 20% of the business had disappeared. We would argue that since the boycott started on August 18, 2012 that the  percentage has been higher.

Not everyone is a supporter though. People loooove their Golden Farm. On the picket line we get to meet AND hear from Kensington’s finest! These scabs, sorry, fine neighbors, come in all shape and sizes:

The “Stuck in the Cold War” type:

“Go back to Cuba you communist!”

The “A–hole That Takes Flyer and Crumples It” type:

“Get the F— out of my way!”

The “Hipster Gentrifier” type:

“I feel for the workers but this store has the best Kombucha. And the microbrew selection is off the hook. Sorry man.”

The “Straight-up Racist” or “Brown People Who Speak Spanish are Not Human Beings” type:

“These illegals don’t deserve anything. These Mexicans shouldn’t be here in the first place!”

The “Still Stuck in the Matrix” or “The NYTimes is My Bible” type:

“This is just horrible. They should just file a lawsuit or call the Department of Labor and everything will be taken care of…You say they already did? Good, then why are you out here? I’m sorry, I really have to go inside and get some groceries quick. Good luck with everything.”

The “Smarty Pants I’ve Talked to ALL the Workers and They Don’t Want You Here” type:

“This isn’t going to work you know…if you boycott how is the owner going to have money to pay the workers? I’m really good friends with all the workers and they don’t want you out here….You’re asking me if I speak Spanish and if  I’ve talked to all the workers? No.  Just a couple cashiers.”

The “Don’t You Realize I’m a Walking Contradiction”  or “Convenience Justifies Crossing Picket Lines” type:

“Listen, I’m on your side. I’m pro-union. I’m  a supporter, I signed your petition a while ago. Why am I still shopping here?  Because this is such a convenient store, and Foodtown is really pricey, McDonald farm is not as good. This is just a really convenient store. I only shop here when I need to anyway.”

The “I’m From Another Planet” type:

“You guys are just trying to close down this store so you can open your own! Don’t think for a second you’re fooling me!”

Good times! We could go on and on. Fortunately however, there are the types that believe in basic human decency, labor rights and solidarity. Local residents Rabbi David Siff and Jennifer Fortune are just a couple examples:

Thank you Rabbi! Thank you Jennifer!

They (among many others) are the reason why this boycott is working and why at some point soon (knock on wood) Sonny Kim will do the math and realize that making peace is the sensible thing to do for his business (if we forget about justice for a second). The proverbial ball continues to be in his court. Sign the contract Sonny! We want our Kombucha!

(and also to shop in a union shop where the workers have paid sick days, raises, vacations, personal days and cannot get fired without just cause.)

Golden Farm friend

My name is Michael Klein; I’m a life-long New Yorker, longtime Brooklyniyte, and Kensington resident for the past 5 years. One of the things that attracted us to this neighborhood was the community feeling and the wealth of fine small businesses. Golden Farm seemed to be the cream of the crop–great prices, amazing efficiency, and a great selection. So I was very disturbed, one winter day last year, to find out that all was not as it seemed at the store; that in fact, the owner, Sonny Kim, had been exploiting his workers for years, had broken labor laws, abused them, trampled on their rights. And–I learned that the workers, defying the odds, were fighting back, and had reached out to the legal community to defend themselves, and to the Kensington community for support.
Like many other families, we had spent thousands of dollars at Golden Farm. But finding about Sonny Kim’s abuses, and, even more shockingly, that he was continuing his practices, and resisting all efforts to get him to change, put an end to that. So I joined with the many other Kensington residents who have gladly lent their support to the guys in Golden Farm. The community has responded in many ways–with petitions to Sonny Kim, by picketing, by joining the boycott, by involving our local officials, and many, simply by saying NO! to this disgraceful behavior and shopping elsewhere. I hope Kim is getting the message, because it will continue until he does; and my only regret is not having paid closer attention to what was happening in the lives of people right across the street from me who worked so hard for me when I was a customer. But now, we are not just customers–we are, proudly, friends.

-Michael Klein

Kensington resident

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Golden Farm worker Javier Rios and Kensington resident Michael Klein. Thumbs up!

Watch this video of Kensington resident Michael Klein and Susan Braverman on why they support the boycott!

No love for Golden Farm (til’ contract!)

Dear Mr. Kim,

I loved shopping at Golden Farms until I found out about how unfair your labor policy is. Your workers are some of the best in town and to have paid them below minimum wage for so many years is awful (not to mention illegal).
I used to spend thousands of dollars at your store each year and would recommend it to all of my friends and family who in turn would gladly spend thousands of their dollars there too. We all will continue to support the boycott and the workers until you fully honor their claims, give them back pay on the wages you stole from them, and negotiate fair contracts.
Seriously, Mr. Kim, saving a few cents on your produce is simply not acceptable now that I know about your policies—and  it’s certainly not ever worth hurting workers—especially in such tough economic times.
-Constantina
Kensington resident
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Who is Responsible for the Way Felix Trinidad Died?

Kensington resident Sharon Lerner on why ALL workers deserve paid sick days.

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Standing in middle is Anastacia (Felix’s widow), holding signs their two children, joined by Manuel (Golden Farm night shift worker) on far right at rally calling for sick days for all New Yorkers.