Easiest Golden Farm employee to spot. Always outside (summer, winter, rain or shine, night or day, or HURRICANE!). He is on the quieter end of the spectrum, but if you want to get him going ask him about his favorite soccer team (Pumas); or if you are into music perhaps one of his favorite artists (Lisandro Mesa); or just simply ask him about his hometown in Mexico (Chalco) and his wife and three children for whom he works for ever since he arrived to his first and and only job in the United States in 2007.
Why did Martin join his coworkers and sue Golden Farm owner Sonny Kim for his back-pay as well as organize to demand a fair contract?
“[Martin] Gonzalez said he often comes to work sick, because he cannot afford to lose pay, and he worries that missing work could cost him his job.”
“Every worker deserves paid sick days,” said Martin Gonzalez, a Golden Farm worker who has worked without paid sick days for five years. “We are organizing here at Golden Farm so we don’t have to choose between our health and our pay checks every time we get sick. Getting sick shouldn’t mean risking your job. We’re proud to have the support of the community.”
Before the union election on May 2, 2012, when the majority of the workers voted to unionize, Martin noted that:
“[T}he clash is no longer just between the workers and the owner, said Golden Farm employee Martin Gonzalez. Many of the store’s cashiers—who Gonzalez said were in fact making minimum wage prior to the lawsuit—are angry with the other employees for stirring the pot, and have told customers that the other workers are lying about receiving unjust wages.
“I hadn’t realized that cashiers were being treated differently from all of us. On the average, they’ve been paid at or above minimum wage, whereas we’ve been paid way below the minimum wage,” Gonzalez said. “It’s really exhausting not only to fight with the owner, but also to be fighting with our own compañeros inside the store.”
Gonzalez said he feels confident that the election will be a success, despite lack of enthusiasm from some of the store’s 24 employees, as well as threats from Kim to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I think that we can win the election at this moment, because we are even more committed,” he said. “Before we were afraid of speaking up, and now we are not afraid. If immigration comes, let it come.”
Though he claims to be shy, the camera seems to always follow him!
And why does Martin believe that this 2 year fight has been worth each and every moment of stress, anxiety, and fear and even though he along with his coworkers has been continually harassed by management?
“Since we started our fight to be paid at least minimum wage, the workers at Golden Farm have been victims of different types of attacks from management, and the owner, Sonny Kim, has done nothing to stop them,” said Martin Gonzalez, a Golden Farm employee. “We believe that the state of New York should be free from discrimination and the exploitation of workers, and we are fighting to ensure workers who stand up for their rights are not threatened with jail time and deportation by management.”
Better yet, you don’t have to read or listen to anything on this blog. Walk up to Martin and say “Hola Martin, como estas?”, he can be found outside of Golden Farm, by the grapes or the onions, where he has been working every single day since 2007 (except Thursdays when he rests).
He’s a good guy to have as a neighbor since he lives on E. 4th Street within very short walking distance from Golden Farm.