Supermarket baggers fight for hourly wages
Organizers representing the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union are scouting supermarkets throughout New Yorks five boroughs to unionize unpaid baggers. These workers are forced to subsist on tips that range from $4 to $30 an hour.
On Feb. 10, workers at Food Bazaar on Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg held a picket line to publicize their legal suit demanding hourly wages. And the Bushwick community group Make the Road by Walking is demanding more than $1 million in back wages for baggers at the Associated on Knickerbocker Avenue. (New York Times, Feb. 11)
Though two large chains, Gristedes and Food Emporium, each agreed several years ago to $3 million settlements after they were accused of paying delivery workers $75 for a 60-hour week, progress for these sub-minimum-wage workers is painfully slow. Legal suits are often fought store by store through the attorney generals labor bureau.
With $7.15 as the states new minimum wage as of Jan. 1 and with union organizers on the case, theres a ray of hope for these below-poverty-level workers.