Updated, May 18: The lockout is in its tenth week. For latest news see UFCW Local 342’s Facebook page.
Sunday, March 17th, Occupy Astoria Long Island City was out in force supporting the locked out workers of the Trade Fair supermarket on 30th Avenue in Astoria. Shoulder to shoulder, we stood with the workers and representatives of their union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 342. We handed out flyers and helped to alert the community of the lock out.
Employees of nine Trade Fair supermarket locations throughout Queens have been locked out of their jobs since Wednesday, March 13th. The chain’s 100 meat department workers have been working without any type of contract since the last one expired in October of 2012.
In a letter to his constituents, NY Councilman Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights succinctly explained the situation the workers are facing:
“Trade Fair has refused to bargain fairly. Instead they have insisted on wage freezes throughout the length of a new contract, cutting workers’ hours, taking away workers’ Sunday premium pay, and gutting their healthcare benefits.”
As the workers have been locked out, Trade Fair has hired replacement employees. Displayed outside the store, were oversized posters advertising help wanted for part-time meat workers. The qualifications of these new workers were brought into question this past brisk Sunday afternoon. Locked out workers informed OALIC that the meat being marked Halal by the replacement workers was not in fact Halal. This is a serious issue considering that many Astoria residents shop at Trade Fair specifically for their Halal meat. On the street, we encountered a Bengali Astoria resident who has shopped at Trade Fair for his Halal meat and who also had heard the startling news that the meat being put out on the shelves was not Halal. He seemed very dismayed by the news and supported the workers. He made a point of saying that local Muslims developed a relationship and trust with their butchers and that the situation with the Halal meat should be made aware to the larger Muslim community. We also met other residents who also were supported the workers and therefore were boycotting until the unfair labor practices were resolved.
As for now, the workers are locked out in the cold. Their union is continuing to work toward better working conditions and a fair contract. Until then, OALIC supports the Trade Fair workers both in spirit and in the streets.
What you can do:
• Boycott Trade Fair supermarkets until the workers are brought back!
Your dollar is your vote. Put your money where it matters. Money talks.
• Sign this petition in support of the workers
• Spread the word about the Trade Fair lockout to your neighbors
• Educate yourself with some of these resources:
* For up-to-date news on the lock out, visit UFCW Local 342’s Facebook page
* Local Astoria blog interviewing Locked Out employee by local Astoria resident
* Watch NY 1 piece on the lock out
Trade Fair management wants to cut workers’ hours to 24 hours a week! Many workers are left to question how they can live on that. The owner wants to cut back the workers’ hours from full time to part time. The rise of part-time work notes an alarming trend chronicled by NY Times writer Catherine Rampell:
“We are nowhere near recovering the jobs lost in the recession, and the track record looks even worse when you consider that so many of the jobs lost were full time, whereas so many of those gained have been part time…. These trends are part of the reason that many people believe the standard unemployment rate of 7.7 percent understates the extent of underemployment. If you include both part-time workers who want full-time work and people who have stopped looking for jobs but still want to work, the unemployment rate is actually 14.3 percent.”
The Declaration of the Occupation of NYC declares that “all of our grievances are connected.”
OALIC knows that the fight being now fought by Trade Fair workers is not an isolated incident. We stand in support of Trade Fair meat workers and workers everywhere!
Workers’ Rights: Fight Back
For the Workers: Fight Back!
For their Families: Fight Back!
Together We Stand! Together we win!