Why Continue to Boycott Golden Farm?

Because we are so close! Workers have shared that negotiations between Sonny Kim and RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 went well on Monday, January 28. A third and what everyone hopes will be the last negotiation date has been set for February 12. We are closer now than ever!

On the picket line we hear some people increasingly voicing frustration with the length of the boycott. That this has taken entirely too long. Labor struggles are never quick and easy. That the boycott is really just turning into an inconvenience. Personal convenience is not an excuse to support employer abuse. That the workers are nowhere to be seen. Check out the countless online material of worker images, words, interviews and video sharing their experiences, thoughts and goals. That the boycott is just not working. Owner Sonny Kim sued for $3 million dollars in losses and has met twice with the union to negotiate.

Of course, our frustration and exhaustion pales in comparison to what the workers are feeling. Yet they remain strong and want to continue to fight and we will stand by them. Victories have been hard to come by but the workers have been successful!

1. In 2008 workers successfully organized to contact the NY Department of Labor to protest their work conditions.

2. In March 2011, after many years of being underpaid, workers were successful in forcing owner Sonny Kim to comply with NY state minimum wage and overtime law.

3. After successfully organizing to fight for their back pay, the law firm Advocates for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of 13 workers in June of 2011.

4. In May 2012 the majority of the workers successfully voted to unionize and elected Local 338 (RWDSU/UFCW) as their collective bargaining agent.

5. On August 18, 2012 workers successfully mobilized the Kensington community to boycott Golden Farm.

6. After a year and half since the lawsuit for back pay was filed workers were successful in reaching a settlement.

And now, after just two negotiations between the union and Sonny Kim, workers believe that they are closer than ever to their final victory.

The boycott will not end until the workers call upon the community to do so. The workers will not do so until their demands have been met:

1. Contract (including paid sick days and a raise above the current minimum wage)

2. Reinstatement of hours

3. Reinstatement of workers

4. Compensation for hour cuts

Too much has happened to give up now. Too much stress, exhaustion, humiliation, and frustration. Too many losses. Too many tears. Too much of our selves has been poured into this little green grocery store.

We owe it to Felix and his widow and children. We owe it to the workers. We owe it to our selves.

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Golden Farm worker Martin on the picket line!

Viva la justa lucha de los trabajadores de Golden Farm…viva

Viva la solidaridad efectiva y en la práctica con los trabajadores de Golden Farm.

Vivan las justas luchas del pueblo…viva

Boycott Pandemic

Nearly 50 people with the boycott rally bug came out today to brave the sunny, mid-40 degrees, balmy January weather. More than 20 did so as well yesterday!

For those of you keeping store at home there have been rallies outside of Golden Farm in 2011, 2012 and now in 2013…

Yesterday the Green Party crashed the Golden Farm sidewalk in solidarity with the Golden Farm workers:

And today allies left and left came out in full support and sang to Sonny Kim!

Struggles bring allies together and broad coalitions bring about change. Meet some of the members of the Golden Farm Justice Coalition:

The Hot and Crusty workers:

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(on left with sign) Mahoma Lopez, Hot and Crusty worker and activist: “Unionize Low Wage Workers, We Did It!”

99 Pickets brought people together:

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Sundrop wearing the 99Pickets banner with pride

The Internationalist Group:

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Charlie from the Internationalist Group speaks

Socialist Alternative was there as well:

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Pete from Socialist Alternative takes the mike

OccuEvolve, always representing:

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Malu from OccuEvolve!

And of course, Occupy Kensington:

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Gibb from Occupy Kensington

New York Communities for Change was also there.

Occupy Staten Island, Occupy Sunset Park and if we forgot to mention anyone our apologies!

Most important of all, Kensington residents of all types were present supporting the workers. The message to Sonny was loud and clear:

Sonny Kim! No contract, no peace!

Kensington has got a fever and the only prescription is more boycott! (never gets old)

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.