Thursday, March 06, 2008

Saigon Grill strike continues

I got the following e-mail from Justice Will Be Served, a "campaign that
unites restaurant, hotel, deli, and other service workers in different communities across New York to fight against long hours, second-class wages, stolen tips and other sweatshop conditions."

On February 14, 2008 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision ordering Saigon Grill Restaurant to 1) restore its delivery service at its two locations in the UWS and in Union Square, 2) reinstate all 28 delivery workers, and 3) pay workers their lost earnings. The delivery workers were fired in early March 2007, and have been picketing the restaurant every week for the past year to demand reinstatement. In the past year, their example has inspired countless other workers to stand with them on the picket line and organize workers at other restaurants, including Ollies' Noodle Shop and Grille, Republic Restaurant, among others. At Flor de Mayo Restaurant on the UWS, Latino delivery workers are uniting with Chinese delivery workers in this united effort to end sweatshop conditions in NYC restaurants. Workers are now calling for a boycott of Flor de Mayo's two locations. But when workers started to take their fight to the courts, bosses resorted to retaliatory tactics, including firings and blacklisting. This decision is an important step in the restaurant workers' movement, and sends a message to all bosses that we will not allow them to use firing and business closing as tactics to stamp out worker organizing.

However, Saigon Grill owners Simon and Michelle Nget act as if they are above U.S. labor laws and tax laws. They continue to snub the workers, the community, and elected officials who have given many opportunities for the restaurant to resolve this labor dispute. The owners continue to cheat the workers of their wages and their tax withholding. They continue to cheat the workers and the public. Furthermore, they undermine law-abiding businesses.

This is an incredibly inspiring campaign that brings to mind some of the most beautiful moments in labor history: when people of different backgrounds have united for basic fairness---and have grown inside themselves, too, in the process.

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