En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Bushwick’s ‘Street of Shame’ Being Swept by Labor Dept.

BUSHWICK –
Issuing numerous fines for wage and hour violations, the New York State
Department of Labor has begun conducting sweeps of several dozen food markets
and retail stores along Knickerbocker
Avenue.

Knickerbocker Avenue has long been known as the "Street
of Shame" by labor advocacy groups that want to put an end to the numerous
violations of employee rights to earn minimum wage and overtime pay.

The Labor
Department postponed a press conference Tuesday because it needs to further
investigate the violations and inspect additional employers. The press
conference, which is rescheduled for next Wednesday, Dec. 19 at the corner of
Knickerbocker Avenue and Himrod Street, is being held by the New York State
Department of Labor in conjunction with labor advocacy group Make the Road New York and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

In
accordance with state law, the minimum wage is $7.15, and all non-managerial
employees working over 40 hours per week must be paid at the rate of
time-and-a-half for those additional hours. Employees along Knickerbocker Avenue are not being paid
these wages, the Labor Department revealed.

Baggers at
the Associated Grocery Store were not being paid anything at all, said Jeffrey
Eichler, a project coordinator at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store
Union. They only got paid in tips, he said.

Associated
Grocery Store committed "major wage violations that we calculate to the tune of
over a million dollars," Eichler said. But Associated Grocery Store is just an
example of a citywide problem, he stressed.

The Retail,
Wholesale and Department Store Union is assisting the Labor Department’s
investigation by facilitating communication between the department and the
individual employees.

"It is an
ongoing investigation," said Labor Department spokesman Leo Rosales. "We should
be wrapping up [the sweeps] by early next week."

M. Patricia
Smith, Labor Department Commissioner, is expected to announce the results of
what their investigation uncovered. In addition to the Labor Department, the
Attorney General’s Office is also investigating the Knickerbocker Avenue violations.