En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New York Post
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Queens Center Mall Employees Rally for Better Wages

More than 25 workers in varying jobs at Elmhurst’s Queens Center
Mall joined advocacy group
Make the Road New York and several borough elected
officials Sunday to protest their low wages and lack of benefits.

 


The workers, many of whom are members of Make the Road New York, demanded that
the mall, on Queens Boulevard
near Woodhaven Boulevard
in Elmhurst,
provide decent jobs in exchange for the $48 million the shopping center
received this year in tax subsidies.

 


“We want a living
wage,”
said Lili Salmeron, an organizer for Make the Road. “We feel the mall should give back to the community.”

  

Make the Road New York is a worker advocacy group that
focuses on economic, workplace and environmental justice as well as empowering
youth.

 


The protesters, who held up signs reading “Union
Jobs” and “Jobs with Good Benefits,” called on the mall to provide retail jobs
that pay $10 per hour and include benefits.

 


The workers, who hold retail jobs in the mall, are
mostly all paid the city’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage and do not receive
benefits, said
Michael Yellin, of Make the Road. The mall’s individual retailers hire
their own workers.

  

Yellin said Macy’s was one of the few
stores at the mall that provided union wages and benefits.

 


The group said they wanted the mall to create a
community space where local youths could have a safe place to gather as well as
provide English as a Second Language classes and allow them to unionize.

 


Queens Center Mall is owned by Macerich, one of the
country’s largest owners of malls. The Queens
shopping center opened in 1973 and was purchased by Macerich in 1995.

 


The mall’s workers were joined by state Assemblyman
Jose Peralta (D-Jackson
Heights
), City
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilman-elect Danny
Dromm.

 

“I believe
that any recipient of tax subsidies must be held to the highest standard,”
Dromm said of the mall. “They must pay livable wages and they must be
responsive to the needs of the surrounding community. The Queens Center Mall
needs to be stop being Scrooge at this time of year. Its jobs are poverty-level
jobs. Elmhurst
is a very needy community.”