Overworked, underpaid NO MORE

ImageBelated report-back. Saturday night February 2nd was very cold and windy. At 7:30p.m., on the corner of New York and Church Avenues in Flatbush, about 30 members from the New York Communities for Change’s (NYCC) Flatbush neighborhood chapter and the NYCC Workers Committee met and then marched down Church Ave. towards 18th Street. Why? To fight for justice for immigrant workers. To clean up Church Avenue! To make Flatbush an exploitation free zone. No more wage theft. No more 72+ hour work weeks for sub-poverty wages. Sick days for all. Living wages for all.

Why the late start time for the march? Because most march participants worked during the day and could not participate until later in the evening. March organizers wanted to go directly to the  very workers inside the restaurants, green groceries, nail salons, etc., that remained open at that hour. People working and on the street were informed about their rights and encouraged to organize. Employers were put on notice.

Juan, Junior and Lucas spoke about why they were going to march:

At 18th St. and Church Ave the marchers stopped and were ferried in a van to the most famous green grocery in all of Brooklyn. GOLDEN FARM!

Once there a few Occupy Kensington members joined the marchers and called upon Golden Farm owner Sonny Kim to sign the contract and guarantee his employees paid sick days, vacations, personal days, holidays, annual raises and job security.

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Comite de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores de NYCC

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Sandra Castro marched on Feb. 2!

Why was it a beautiful night? Because workers from other stores that have organized, fought and won were present to support their brothers and sisters at Golden Farm.

Cesar from Master Food supermarket (3008 Church Avenue, Brooklyn) spoke. His store won a union contract with Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and a 300K settlement in back pay. Junior from Key Food supermarket (9530 Church Avenue, Brooklyn) spoke also. His store won a union contract with Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.

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Justice chalk!

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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