Brooklyn Grocery Store Workers Push for Back Wages, Community Plans Boycott
As we reported in February, the workers at Golden Farm supermarket in Brooklyn are owed thousands in back pay thanks to years they spent working for less than minimum wage and without legally-mandated overtime benefits. The workers filed a lawsuit in June of 2011, and since then they've been paid proper wages, but are still waiting for the store's owner to hand over the back wages. And since they filed for a union election, the workers have been forced to sit through captive-audience meetings with an anti-union consultant (who no doubt makes much more than the minimum-wage employees).
This week, residents of the Kensington neighborhood are taking action in support of the workers, leading up to a 24-hour boycott of the store next weekend. “We’ve planned teach-ins, movie nights, sign making parties and more protests to keep the pressure on Sonny Kim and let the workers know that they have the support of the community. I live one block away from Golden Farm and I’ve been shopping there for years. I’m going to do everything in my power to stand up for the people who work there that are being exploited,” said Kensington Resident Peter Walsh.
Sunday, residents braved the rain along with City Council member Brad Lander and state senator Eric Adams to march in support of the mostly-immigrant workers. “Fair pay for a day’s work is a basic American value. Small businesses that treat their workers fairly and build relationships with the community help make Brooklyn a great place to live,”said Council Member Brad Lander.
If Golden Farm does win union representation (with RWDSU/UFCW Local 338) they'll join workers at two other neighborhood grocery stores, Master Food and just recently Farm Country in East New York, which voted for union representation this month after a similar lawsuit for back wages. New York Communities for Change and Local 338 have been waging a campaign to bring fair treatment to the low-wage immigrant workers in Brooklyn's small, independent grocery stores, drawing attention to the fact that small businesses don't always treat workers better.