March 19, 2013
The Queens, New York supermarket chain that last week locked out striking meat department workers hoping to return to work, has made good on its promise to “replace” the embattled employees with scabs – but the decision could end up making its customers sick to their stomachs. (Read More)
United Food and Commercial Workers [UFCW] cameras last week recored emloyees at the Trade Fair supermarket at 75-07 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, carelessly offloading piles of unwrapped goat and lamb meat under cover of darkness.
In the video, the bisected carcasses are strewn all over a delivery truck’s loading platform before being unceremoniously tossed into a shopping cart and taking into the store.
The union, representing Trade Fair meat department workers in nine locations around Queens County, says that the incident is an example of the newly-hired scab workers in action.
“The company has brought in some scabs who don’t know what they’re doing,” UFCW Local 342 communications specialist Jerry Minetello said in an e-mail.
LaborPress was at the Jackson Heights store on March 13 when the store’s manager refused Local 342’s request to allow striking meat department employees to return.
In addition to the unsanitary goat and lamp meat delivery captured on video, the union says it also has reports of outraged Trade Fair customers returning spoiled or outdated meat, and at least one shopper who allegedly found a piece of plastic in an order of chop meat that she recently purchased.
Trade Fair and its CEO Farid Jaber, boasts of having "top quality meat" at fair and competitive prices.
Trade Fair meat department workers – about 100 in all – went on strike last week citing unfair labor practices. UFCW Local 342 has been in extended contract negotiations with Trade Fair for over a year. But prior to the strike and subsequent lockout, Trade Fair meat department employees had been working without a contract since the last one expired in October, 2012.
Rather than signing a new contract that is fair, union representatives say that Trade Fair has sought to freeze wages, cut hours, gut healthcare benefits and eliminate premium pay for work done on Sundays. Before officially going out on strike last Wednesday, meat department workers at first tried to elicit public support by leafletting passersby and collecting signatures on a petition.
In response, Local 342 and the locked-out workers say Trade Fair management began threatening and harassing its employees. Picketing in front of the 37th Avenue store began at 6 a.m. on March 13. It only took a matter of hours, however, before management declared that “replacements” had already been brought in to take over for the locked-out meat department workers.
New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who has branded Jaber a “menace” to the community, has also taken up the cause of striking meat department workers, saying that he is tired of Trade Fair’s intimidation tactics.
“I will not tolerate this kind of treatment of workers in our community,” the councilman said.
At the time of this writing, Trade Fair’s meat department workers were still locked out as the strike moved into its sixth day. Management has yet to sign a contract, and refuses to allow striking employees to return to work.