Nearly 100 United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 342 meat department members were out in the snow, blowing horns and holding signs as they fought for fair working conditions at the Trade Fair Supermarket at 99-10 Astoria Blvd. in East Elmhurst Monday.
It has been six days since supermarket owner Farid Jaber announced his stores would no longer guarantee 40-hour work weeks and benefit packages to employees at all nine Trade Fair Supermarket locations in Queens.
Council members Daniel Dromm and Julissa Ferreras, along with local community board members, joined the ranks to support the union’s Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“The reality is that Trade Fair has been a bad neighbor and a bad business for a long time and that’s why these residents are here,” Ferreras said to the crowd. “This is just not about the workers, but the community is out here today.”
Ferreras also called on Jaber to address the “thousands of fines from the Department of Buildings” against the grocery store chain.
“We have to be aware and ensure that Trade Fair does not continue these practices, not only in my neighborhood, but in all nine of the neighborhoods that they have businesses in,” Ferreras said. “We need to ensure that you don’t have cheap prices on the backs of our workers.”
Dromm has been on the picket line with the union since March 12, before the lockout went into effect.
“It’s unfortunate that I have to be here today, but I will always be here to support the workers and our unions,” Dromm said.
The union’s charges include intimidation, threats of termination, harassment, assault and coercing of union workers and representatives from exercising their rights as union members.
“I can’t count the number of times that Mr. Jaber has violated the law and we had to take him on,” Dromm said. “Our message here today is that we are not afraid.”
“They have scabs inside taking their place, and I think this is very unfair to their workers,” said Pat Thorpe, a member of Community Board 3. “These are union workers who give you good quality service. They shouldn’t be locked out of their place of business.”
With the support of Dromm, Ferreras and Community Board 3, Monday was a pivotal day for the union members who have been looking for additional support from their elected officials.
Speaker Christine Quinn released a statement in support of the Local 342.
"Trade Fair Supermarket is jeopardizing the livelihood of nearly 100 workers by unfairly locking them out,” the statement read. “No one should be penalized for standing up for his or her own rights. We urge all parties to negotiate in good faith and respect the collective bargaining process."