For Immediate Release:
Focus on the Food Chain
Contact: press (at) brandworkers.org
June 27, 2011
Chinese Restaurant Chain Drops Supplier Over Massive Wage Theft
Workplace Justice Campaign Wins Potentially Decisive Victory
New York, NY- The Cottage chain of Chinese restaurants has discontinued all restaurant supply purchases from Pur Pac, a Queens-based distribution warehouse that, through predecessor companies, engaged in massive wage theft and illegal retaliation against workers who stood up for their rights. Though Pur Pac, through its previous incarnations as E-Z Supply and Sunrise Plus, was found liable in both federal court and the National Labor Relations Board for pervasive workers' rights violations, the workers have yet to see any of the compensation they are owed. Cottage restaurants, by far one of Pur Pac's most significant customers, dropped the distribution company after a spirited worker-led advocacy effort calling on Cottage to avoid using suppliers that violate workers' human rights.
"This is heavy, difficult work and we worked hard every day doing it only to be cheated out of the wages we were owed," said Jorge Paez, a former delivery truck driver at the company and a member of Focus on the Food Chain, the workers' rights campaign organizing for justice at Pur Pac. "I'm pleased that Cottage has chosen to stop using the rice, soy sauce, cooking oil and many other supplies it was purchasing from Pur Pac until the rights of my co-workers and I are respected."
Focus on the Food Chain challenges sweatshop conditions in a major industrial corridor of processing and distribution warehouses in Brooklyn and Queens that provide food and supplies to NYC restaurants and grocery stores. Conditions at Pur Pac are typical of the sector where violations of basic workers' rights, exploitation of recent immigrants, and relentless retaliation against worker organizing are the norm. Earlier this year, a Brooklyn tortilla factory in the heart of the corridor claimed the life of 22 year-old Juan Baten, a Guatemalan immigrant who was crushed to death on the job. The Focus campaign is a joint effort of non-profit organization Brandworkers and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World labor union.
"Cottage was a large and long-time customer of Pur Pac and it's a testament to the workers' resolve that they were able to move these restaurants to stop using sweatshop-distributed products," said Daniel Gross, the director of Brandworkers. "This is a big step forward towards winning accountability and respect for the rule of law at Pur Pac."
The Focus on the Food Chain campaign promotes a sustainable food system that incorporates respect for workers' human rights. Brandworkers is a New York-based non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees. The Industrial Workers of the World is a dynamic and member-driven union committed to workplace democracy and global solidarity.