February, 2009

>Grocery Workers Serving Up Justice in Fight Against Wage Theft

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Five hundred and fifty gourmet grocery workers will receive nearly $1.5 million in unpaid wages, thanks to the efforts of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500.

Watch the video here.

In 2008, several workers at Amish Markets and related stores Zeytinia, Zeytinz, and Zeytuna approached UFCW Local 1500 because they wanted to form a union at their stores.


The UFCW soon discovered that many workers were not being paid proper overtime and brought the violations to the attention of the New York State Department of Labor. The DOL conducted a sweep of nine locations and confirmed widespread wage and hour and labor violations.

Bruce W. Both, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 said, “The New York State Department of Labor and the workers from Amish Markets, a gourmet grocery store serving high-end food products, deserve the gratitude of every taxpayer in the city because they had the courage to stand up and say: ‘This is wrong!’”

State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said of Amish Markets, “This employer was caught red-handed with his hand in the gourmet cooking jar.”

Local 1500 and the Building Blocks Project play a leading role in bringing good food, good jobs, and good health to New York’s neighborhoods by promoting and establishing policies that preserve existing supermarkets, develop new supermarkets and ensure the ability of grocery workers to form unions.

>"Health Care Reform Cannot Wait"

>President Obama in his remarks this morning on the 2010 Fiscal Budget announced a radical departure from the old trends in spending and outlined his support for sweeping reforms that will reach all of America.

Among the reforms, Obama reemphasized health care as a priority in getting our economy back on track:

Because of crushing health care costs and the fact that they drag down our economy, bankrupt our families, and represent the fastest-growing part of our budget, we must make it a priority to give every single American quality, affordable health care….With this budget, we are making a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. It’s a step that will not only make families healthier and companies more competitive, but over the long term it will also help us bring down our deficit.

Obama’s budget reflects the urgent need for action he spoke of in his State of the Union address earlier this week:

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also now that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

We have fought tirelessly for this moment and the time is finally here: we are going to get health care reform in 2009. The question now is what will that reform look like?

As the fat cats who have been profiting off of the status quo for so long start to throw up roadblocks on the path to change, it is crucial that we all make sure those who are working for the right kind of reform know they have our support.

Can you help by sending a quick note to the Senate Finance Committee and President Obama thanking them for their swift action so far and commitment to change?

It only takes a minute and we know it makes a difference.

Gourmet Grocery workers fight back against wage theft

(New York)—Five hundred and fifty gourmet grocery workers will receive nearly $1.5 million in unpaid wages, thanks to the efforts of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500.

In 2008, several workers at Amish Markets and related stores Zeytinia, Zeytinz, and Zeytuna approached UFCW Local 1500 because they wanted to form a union at their stores. UFCW soon discovered that many workers were not being paid proper overtime and brought the violations to the attention of the New York State Department of Labor.  The DOL conducted a sweep of nine locations and confirmed widespread wage and hour and labor violations including:

–employees who had worked up to 60 hours per week who were not paid time-and-a-half for their overtime as required by law;

–workers paid less than the minimum wage as part of a “trial period”;

–at least one whistleblower who was terminated in retaliation for providing information to the New York State Department of Labor.

Bruce W. Both, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 said, “When workers do not receive the pay they’re entitled to by law, both workers and taxpayers suffer. Unpaid wages also mean unpaid taxes. We can never tolerate that, especially in these difficult economic times. The New York State Department of Labor and the workers from Amish Markets, a gourmet grocery store serving high-end food products, deserve the gratitude of every taxpayer in the city because they had the courage to stand up and say: ‘This is wrong!’ Today, the only thing being served and delivered by these grocery workers is justice.”

Local 1500’s Gourmet Grocery Campaign is an effort to bring a union voice on the job to workers in New York’s gourmet grocery industry so they may secure middle class wages, decent benefits, and improved working conditions.

Local 1500 and the Building Blocks Project play a leading role in bringing good food, good jobs, and good health to New York’s neighborhoods by promoting and establishing policies that preserve existing supermarkets, develop new supermarkets and ensure the ability of grocery workers to form unions.