Meatcutters stand up

From the March-April 2013 issue of News & Letters:

Meatcutters stand up

Queens, N.Y.—Trade Fair, a supermarket in Astoria, Queens, with a unionized meat department, is engaged in a scurrilous effort to break the union. But the union members at Trade Fair supermarket are standing firm. Their pride is evident in the union buttons they wear on the job which say, in English and Spanish, “Standing Strong, Prepared to Strike.” Store management, in huge posters outside the store attacking the union, calls these displays of workers’ determination “disruptive.”

Signs outside the store announce that there are positions open in the meat department. One union member told me they are trying to fire union members and hire non-union replacements, part-timers, to take their place. He said the goal of management was to break the union.

When the union tried to defend the rights of their workers, management became verbally abusive and threatening towards the workers and their supporters, trying to physically intimidate the workers into breaking with the union. (See YouTube video, “Bully Trade Fair owner flips out on workers.”)

As a union spokesman says in the video, their treatment has been disgraceful, and they ask, “Is this the American dream?” In response, Local 342 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents many grocery store workers in New York City, has set up informational leafleting in front of the store, with volunteers from the union explaining the union’s side of the story to community residents.

—M.G.

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