Jun. 1, 2012 | Eunice Cho
Focus on the Food Chain—Immigrant Worker Campaign of the Month!
Focus on the Food Chain uses grassroots organizing, worker-led campaigns, and legal strategies to work towards a food processing and distribution sector in New York City that provides good jobs and contributes to a sustainable food system.
A joint effort by non-profit Brandworkers International and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union, Focus on the Food Chain organizes food processing and distribution workers in the Brooklyn/Queens area. Most of the workers are Latin American immigrants, who are frequently exploited through wage theft, discrimination, and non-compliance with health and safety laws.
Most recently, workers from Flaum Appetizing recovered $577,000 in stolen wages. These workers also secured a decision at the NLRB, described below, which set important safeguards for immigrant workers. In additon, Tortilleria Chinantla owner Erasmo Ponce, was arrested after Focus on the Food Chain kept attention on his disregard of safety laws that led to the death of one of his workers, Juan Baten. Focus on the Food Chain has also won $470,000 for former workers of Pur Pac and $340,000 for former workers at Wild Edibles.
In Flaum Appetizing, 357 NLRB No. 1662 (Dec. 30, 2011), the National Labor Relations Board held that before presenting an affirmative defense to backpay based on Hoffman Plastic, an employer must come forth with “some articulable reason to believe” that the discriminateEs were not authorized to work during the backpay period. Where an employer has hired and employed a worker and would have continued to employ them but for the unfair labor practice, the employer cannot question the worker about work authorization solely on the basis of “the filing of the unfair labor practice charge, the discriminatees’ participation in th[e] case, and the Board’s order of reinstatement and award of backpay.” Slip op. at 6.
Filed under: Past Worker Campaigns of the Month