Monday, December 19, 2011



Press release from New York Communities for Change: 
Friday December 16, 2011
Contact: Lucas Sanchez – 646-600-2426
lsanchez @
For Immediate Release
Justice in the Aisles: Grocery Store Workers Rally Against Wage Theft
Workers, Activists Take On Church Avenue Store Owners Over Systematic Wage Theft and Harassment

Workers, activists and members of NY Communities for Change rallied Friday in Kensington, Brooklyn, in support of grocery store employees who are experiencing wage-theft and unfair treatment by their employers.
Current and former employees – from cashiers to stockroom workers – reported excessively long workweeks for less than minimum wage and harassment by store managers at the Golden Farm supermarket (329 Church Ave).

“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.”

Golden Farm employees are working with the NY State Department of Labor, NYCC, RWDSU/UFCW Local 338, the local community and the law firm Advocates for Justice to seek justice at their workplace. Prior to organizing to sue for their back wages and a contract, workers at Golden Farm were being paid $400 for a 70+ hour work week.  The store grants workers no vacation days, no sick days, and offers no job protections. Workers were scheduled for seven days a week during the holidays.

The workers delivered more than 400 postcards from community members pledging not to shop at Golden Farm until they respected their workers' right to a fair wage. Joining the workers were several members of the Kensington Community who were surprised and outraged to find out that their local store was stealing wages from its workers.

"Honest pay for honest work is a fundamental right for workers in this country.  Golden Farm should pay its workers the money they are rightfully owed,” said Council Member Brad Lander.  “Our community is strengthened when small businesses do right by their neighbors and staff."

The event was a continuation of an ongoing NYCC and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union / United Food and Commercial Workers (RWDSU/UFCW) Local 338 campaign to improve conditions for low-wage supermarket workers in the city. The campaign kicked off last December with a bus tour where workers and activists rallied at three grocery stores – including Golden Farm- demanding fair treatment in Brooklyn.

The campaign has already been successful at winning a union contract and back wages for workers at one of the three stores. Workers at Master Foods (3008 Church Ave.) signed a deal in October that provides back wages and a contract with paid time off and grievance and arbitration procedures. Since the campaign kicked off, workers from various stores in Brooklyn have sued their employers and won back wages and benefits.

A lawsuit was filed on June 20, 2011 on behalf of 10 workers at Golden Farm by the law firm Advocates for Justice, who is representing the workers.

“I decided to do this lawsuit because it was not fair that we were paid so little for so long,” said Joaquin Trinidad, a 23 years old Mexican immigrant and named plaintiff on lawsuit. “That is why I decided to put my name down on the lawsuit. With the support of NYCC we were able to start it and hopefully we will finish it and accomplish something big with this campaign.”
Friday’s action marks one of many to come. “We’ll be back,” said Lucas Sanchez, an organizer with New York Communities for Change, as he led the workers out of the store. “We’re going to keep fighting until these workers get justice.”