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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Albor Ruiz: Queens supermarket owner leaves his 50 employees out in the cold during the holiday season

Supermarket owner Farid Jaber unceremoniously threw his employees out into the streets without warning after selling the store.

Dozens of New York families could have little to celebrate this Christmas thanks to the cold-hearted actions of a Queens employer.

Cold as the weather was on Tuesday, is was still warmer than the way Farid Jaber, owner of the 75-05 37th Ave. Trade Fair Supermarket in Jackson Heights, summarily threw its employees out to the streets. Jaber is the owner of nine supermarkets in Queens.

The hardworking men and women, a majority of them immigrants and all of them union members, reported to work — only to be told the store had been sold and they did not have a job any more. You have to immediately leave the premises, they were informed.

The store closed immediately, leaving the 50 workers jobless.

The name of the new owner has not been officially revealed , said Jack Caffey Jr., a field director for Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, one of the unions that represents the workers, though he expected it was another well-known city supermarket chain.

“It is despicable, especially at this time of the year,” Caffey said. “The workers weren’t given any notice, written or otherwise and neither was the union. These people have families and they live from check to check. Right now they are out there picketing for their lives in 20 degrees weather.”

One of those picketing was Rafael Polanco, 62, a Dominican immigrant.

“Imagine innocently coming to work only to be told you don’t have a job any more,” said Polanco, who made $11.25 an hour without any benefits after 14 years at Trade Fair. “Go home, go home, the manager kept telling me, but at home I have a 17-year-old daughter who is about to start college and a 10-year-old son who reminded me of his good grades and is expecting his Christmas gifts. I don’t know how to tell them I don’t have any money.”

Without warning and without concern for ruining their Christmas, their years of service or the economic hardships the workers and their families would be facing, they were coldly thrown out of the place to which they had dedicated many long hours of hard work.

“For them it is as if we are not people,” said Polanco, who spent Thursday on the picket line. “They should have met with us to let us know what was going on, but they never bothered. They see us freezing out here but won’t tell us anything. That’s not the way to treat an employee.”

“Trade Fair’s actions are a clear violation of their collective bargaining agreements with our union or with Local 342 UFCW and possibly violate the law,” said Caffey who affirms the company has a long history of disrespect to its workers. “It is not a good employer.”

A telephone call to Jaber was not answered.

Members of the two unions, elected officials and the community (including Make the Road New York) planned to hold a press conference Friday morning outside the store, and Caffey said they hoped to make two points.

“One, to condemn the despicable business practices of Trade Fair Supermarkets,” he said. “And two, to call on its new owner to rehire the terminated workers.”

Polanco put it more plainly.

“What I want is my job back,” he said. “No one deserves to be treated like this.”

To view the original article, click here.