More Top New York Restaurants Stop Serving Wild Edibles Seafood Over Workers' Rights Concerns
Contact: press (at) brandworkers.org
September 5, 2008
New York, NY- Three highly-regarded restaurants here have demonstrated that ethical and sustainable business practices include consideration for the well-being of workers employed by suppliers. Noho Star, Paloma, and Madison Bistro have chosen to stop serving seafood from Wild Edibles or its front-companies until workers there are treated with respect and fairness. Twenty-four current and former Wild Edibles workers have been campaigning for over a year to make positive change on the job and reclaim unlawfully withheld overtime pay.
"Despite all the firings and threats from Wild Edibles, we have continued fighting because we hope for a better life for our families," said Cesar Barturen, a Wild Edibles worker terminated for participating in a class action overtime lawsuit against the company. "We are very grateful that these restaurants heard our call for justice."
Wild Edibles recently filed for Chapter 11 protection and started operating under various aliases like "Blue Harvest" and "Lobster Palace" in a continuing bid to avoid accountability to its workers. Over the Labor Day weekend, workers were joined by New York City Council Member Eric Gioia in front of Terrance Brennan's Artisanal Bistro to reveal that the restaurant continued serving Wild Edibles seafood through a front after Artisanal stated in writing that it had stopped serving products from the company.
When Wild Edibles workers demanded the overtime pay which had been illegally withheld from them and respect for the right to join a union, owner Richard Martin embarked on a relentless campaign of retaliation including firing or forcing out twelve of the workers. A federal judge hit Wild Edibles with an injunction against further retaliation which the company quickly proceeded to violate. The workers' lawyers have filed a motion asking the judge to find the company in contempt of court for not respecting the injunction. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board has issued two complaints against the company for interfering with the workers' efforts to form a union with the Industrial Workers of the World.
Noho Star, Paloma, and Madison Bistro join a growing list of top restaurants who have dropped Wild Edibles over concern for workers' rights. Those restaurants include Pastis, Union Square Cafe, La Goulue, Mermaid Inn, Giorgione, Sushi Samba, One if by Land, Two if by Sea, China Grill, Kittichai, The Kitchen Club, and Tavern on the Green.
Brandworkers International is a non-profit organization that empowers retail and food employees with legal, advocacy, and organizing tools. The Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative promotes the principle that a wholesome and sustainable food system must incorporate respect for workers' human rights.