April 4, 2012
Pro-labor Coalition Calls Out Employers
A coalition of pro-labor groups threw its support behind employees at five city work places Tuesday, some which have been fighting public battles to unionize.
A bus tour, organized by UnitedNY, New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York, visited the work places to draw attention to workers’ rights and to deride employers who discourage unionizing.
“We all believe that the only real long-term victory is representation of workers, and that’s to have a union,” said Jonathan Westin, organizing director of NY Communities for Change.
The tour ended at JFK Airport’s Terminal 4, where an airport worker told the Daily News he wants his fellow workers to organize and join SEIU-32BJ, the union that represents many airport workers.
“I want to see changes, not only for my co-workers, but for everybody at the airport,” said Anthony Guzman, 26, of Brooklyn. He was accompanied by 32BJ spokesman, Michael Allen.
“We’re going to be with them until they win their fight for fair wages and justice,” said Allen.
The tour left from Sotheby’s in Manhattan, where Teamsters members said they have been locked out for months amid contract battles.
The four stops were at workplaces that have recently made headlines for alleged labor violations. Workers at two locations have waged a public battle to unionize.
Farm Country supermarket in Brooklyn recently filed for a union election to join RWDSU/UFCW Local 338, the local retail workers union. Forty-eight current and former workers are suing the Linden Blvd. market, charging they weren’t paid legally required overtime, The News reported last month.
Workers at the second stop on the tour, Cablevision, voted in January to join the Communications Workers of America.
Sutphin Blvd. Car Wash in Jamaica, the tour’s third stop, was called out for alleged mistreatment of workers in March in a report commissioned by WASH New York, a coalition of labor and community groups.
Sutphin is part of a chain of car washes operated by Fernando Magalhaes, who was subpoenaed earlier this month by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for wage and hour violations, and unsafe working conditions.
Organizers said they chose Tuesday for the tour because it was the 44th anniversary of Dr. martin Luther King Jr.’s “Mountaintop” speech.
“It’s a group of us coming together to fight for workers’ justice,” said UnitedNY spokeswoman Cara Noel.
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