The Associated Supermarket in Park Slope has joined a growing number of food retailers that have discontinued the sale of Sonny & Joe's hummus, over workers' rights concerns at Flaum's East Williamsburg food production and distribution facility. Flaum and its owner Moshe Grunhut illegally fired seventeen of their Latino workers en masse after the employees stood up against over a decade of unlawfully withheld overtime pay, denial of benefits, and abusive treatment from management. Though Flaum's retaliatory conduct was judged illegal in February 2009 after a full trial, the company is resisting compliance with the judge's order including the payment of over $260,000 in lost wages. Flaum has profited for years from the hard work of its immigrant employees but only raised the question of immigration status in a discriminatory bid to avoid the lawful court order.
"I'm glad that Associated Supermarket showed concern for the rights of workers along its supply chain," said Felipe Romero, a Flaum worker whose firing was held to be illegal. "I dedicated nine years of my life working very hard at Flaum but that didn't count for anything when my co-workers and I stood up against wage theft. Even though Mr. Grunhut lost the court trial, he still won't pay what he owes. The decision of Associated Spermarket to stop selling Flaum products demonstrates to the company that workers' rights must be taken seriously and takes us a step forward toward winning justice."
The Flaum workers are part of the Focus on the Food Chain campaign, a collaborative effort from non-profit organization Brandworkers and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World labor union. After the workers' struggle was brought to the attention of the Park Slope Greens, they decided to act. The supermarket was then approached by the neighborhood organization who encouraged the retailer to ensure that human rights are respected throughout their supply chain.
"The Green Party has always strongly supported workers' rights" said Joseph Sanchez, member of Park Slope Greens and an active volunteer with the Focus on the Food Chain campaign. "When we found out that sweatshop products are being sold right in our neighborhood we knew that we had to approach the community for support."
The Focus on the Food Chain campaign promotes a sustainable food system that incorporates respect for workers' human rights. Through worker-led organizing, direct action, and litigation, the campaign challenges and overcomes sweatshop conditions in New York's food processing and distribution warehouses. They are online at: http://tinyurl.com/focusonthefoodchain
The Park Slope Greens are a neighborhood organization that promotes the Green Party platform, issues and candidates, including living wages for all workers. Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, they are currently organizing for a ban of hydro-fracking in New York State and a Green New Deal. They are encouraging community members to contact them if they find Sonny & Joe's, Flaum, Tnuva or Bodek products in the area by e-mailing: [email protected] They are online at: http://www.parkslopegreens.org