The most recent issue came to light on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 10, when a dozen supermarket employees arrived to work and were told to go home because the store had been sold.
Workers were surprised by the news because former owner Farid “Frank” Jaber had not told them of the sale.
On Nov. 14, a liquor license application was filed for the same address, meaning the sale has been in progress for at least a month. The new owner of the location is Mohammed Haque of Amana Key Food.
A rally was held on Friday, Dec. 13, in front of the supermarket, located on 37th Ave. between 76th and 75th streets, where union officials demanded that the over 50 employees be rehired by the new owner who will open a Key Food at the location.
“Trade Fair’s actions are disgusting and inexcusable,” said John Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “Mr. Jaber, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that these workers receive everything you owe them, and Mr. Haque we are here to demand that you rehire these workers to operate your store.”
Information released by the union stated that the actions taken by Jaber are in violation of the collective bargaining agreement with two local unions. In addition, the organized workers are determining if selling the store without giving employees any notice is a violation of law.
“This Frank Jaber has violated our community standards, workers rights and building codes in every way possible,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm. “He is a community menace.”
Selling the store is just the latest in a long list of complaints and problems that local leaders have been publicly criticizing.
In the past, Dromm was attempting to take a photo of a truck parked illegally while making deliveries to the supermarket, when the driver punched him in the chest and face.
In addition, the unionized meat workers were locked out of their jobs in March when the employees and Jaber failed to come to an agreement during contract negotiations.
“What happened on Tuesday at the Trade Fair in Jackson Heights was an egregious break from the contract of the union workers in the store,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya. “These hardworking employees deserve better than the disrespect demonstrated by the owner of Trade Fair, especially during the holiday season.”
“Those of us who have families, how are we supposed to tell our children there is no Christmas?” asked a crying Rafael Polanco, a Trade Fair worker for the past 14 years, through a translator.