National, New York, Retail

UFCW Attacks Baltimore Seafood Chain for Indonesia Labor Abuses

August 11, 2017

By Tara Jessup

August 12, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Baltimore, MD – An international federation of food-industry unions has launched a campaign against the Phillips Seafood restaurant chain, charging that its Maryland-style crab cakes are made from crabs shelled by Indonesian women working for subpoverty wages. Unlike other seafood processors in the Indonesian city of Lampung, Phillips has refused to recognize a union at its plant or even accept its workers as full-time employees, says Hidayat Greenfield, Asia-Pacific regional secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers’ Associations, an alliance of unions from 129 countries whose U.S. affiliate is the United Food and Commercial Workers. Instead, Greenfield says, it insists that they are casual workers, which prevents them from being eligible to participate in Indonesia’s national health-care system. The company has also begun outsourcing crab-shelling to “mini-plants” in rural areas, where workers’ hours can be irregular enough so that almost all are casuals, he says. “Our goal is to close the mini-plants,” he told In These Times. UFCW representatives, meanwhile, last month handed out pamphlets about the situation outside the Phillips restaurant in the resort town of Ocean City, Md. Read more

August 11, 2017

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