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.

Image

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

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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.)