Gov't Hits Wild Edibles With Labor Complaint

Wed, 12/05/2007 - 5:33pm

More Legal Trouble for Top-Rated Seafood Supplier

November 30, 2007

New York, NY- The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint yesterday alleging that seafood company Wild Edibles committed multiple violations of federal law in its attempt to undermine the union organizing efforts of its employees. The Labor Board says the company fired two employees for joining the Industrial Workers of the World; threatened other workers with discharge; and engaged in surveillance and interrogation regarding workers’ organizing activity. Brandworkers International, a new non-profit organization for retail and food workers, is providing comprehensive legal and advocacy support to the mostly immigrant workforce as part of its Focus on the Food Chain initiative.

“We learned our rights and we’re using them,” said Cesar Barturen, one of the Wild Edibles employees whose rights the Labor Board says were violated. “We’re happy the government saw what we see every day at work.”

Wild Edibles is already subject to a restraining order from a federal judge in a class action lawsuit the workers filed last month regarding unpaid overtime and retaliation from the company and its owner Richard Martin. Wild Edibles operates a large wholesale warehouse in Queens as well as three retail locations and a seafood restaurant. Some of New York City’s most prominent restaurants purchase seafood from the company.

“We’re fighting hard for justice,” said Pedro Hernandez, a Wild Edibles warehouse employee. “And we won’t stop fighting until we win the respect we deserve”.

Wild Edibles employees are campaigning for a workplace where the right to join a union and receive overtime is respected. The company has retaliated by firing seven workers and applying intense pressure on the job against the rest.

The Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative empowers immigrant food warehouse workers in Brooklyn and Queens to rise above sweatshop conditions. Focus on the Food Chain asks New Yorkers to consider the plight of workers who process and deliver the food that ends up at the city’s finest gourmet markets and restaurants.

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