Food Worker Justice is Food Justice!

Knowing as we do that any true vision of food justice must include justice for food workers, we’ve got two important links for you today on The Big Ceci.

1. We want to send our congratulations to the workers at the Upper East Side Hot and Crusty, who finally won their battle with the boss after being fired and locked out of their store for organizing their own independent union, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association. We’re filled with admiration for their courage in the face of tremendous threat, and we send them love and solidarity!

2. In other food worker news: the boycott of grocery store Golden Farm in Kensington, Brooklyn is entering its fourth week. The store spent more than ten years paying employees less than minimum wage and no overtime while they worked 70+ hour weeks (they were earning under $5/hour). Today, a year and a half after filing a lawsuit demanding the back pay they are owed, workers still haven’t seen a dime. They’ve called for a community boycott of the store to put pressure on owner Sonny Kim. We want to voice our solidarity with the workers of Golden Farm, and alert you, fabulous readers, to some ways you can support them.

WHAT YOU CAN DO [modified from the boycott’s campaign page on 99 Pickets]

  • Pledge your support for the boycott.
  • Call Sonny Kim, the owner of Golden Farm, at (718) 871-1009, and tell him you support the workers and the boycott.
  • Sign the petition demanding Sonny Kim pay workers their back wages and sign a fair contract.
  • Donate to support the family of Felix Trinidad (a Golden Farm worker who worked throughout his battle with stomach cancer – afraid to lose his job if he took time off to go to the doctor – and passed away in July 2012).
  • Follow the boycott on Twitter at @BoycottGF.
  • Finally, and perhaps most urgently: visit the picket line! This is a beautiful time of year to be outside, after all, and what better way to do it than showing your support for worker justice. Spend an hour or two gathering signatures and talking to local folks about the importance of basic benefits and fair wages for all workers. A little goes a long way – sign up for a shift here.

We’ll leave you with an awesome cartoon (yay for multimedia information sharing!) by badass cartoonist Ethan Heitner, sharing the story of the Golden Farm boycott:

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ROC National Diners’ Guide: The People’s Zagat’s!

I’ve talked before on The Big Ceci about my obsession with restaurants. I worked in the industry for most of college, and that experience left me with a deep, unshakeable love for restaurants. I love the celebration and specialness inherent to the ritual of going out to eat. I love the anticipation of walking into a new spot and taking in the scene for the first time. And when I used to work at a restaurant, I loved that, too–the pace; the way, on a good night, you built momentum until eventually you were flying around the floor like the Energizer Bunny; the camaraderie you built with the other people in the building who were crazy enough to be doing it with you.

But the restaurant industry is also deeply complicated, and there is nothing simple about loving it. Issues run the gamut from class and accessibility to questions about what it means that people in the U.S. are eating out more than ever. And close to the top of the list of those issues is worker exploitation. “Loving restaurants” starts to get real murky when the person on the other side of the kitchen door has worked 30 hours so far and is only two days into their week–and is getting paid less than minimum wage.

Which is why I’m excited to take this opportunity to spread the word on The Big Ceci about a free new publication to keep you informed about what’s going on behind the kitchen doors at the restaurants you visit – the ROC National Diners’ Guide 2012!

In ROC‘s own words:

“WE ALL ENJOY EATING OUT.

“Unfortunately, the workers who cook, prepare, and serve our food suffer from poverty wages, no benefits like paid sick days, and little or no chance to move up to better positions. When the people who serve us food can’t afford to pay the rent or take a day off when they’re sick, our dining experience suffers.

“The newly released ROC National Diners’ Guide 2012 provides information on the wage, benefits, and promotion practices of the 150 most popular restaurants in America. The Guide lists responsible restaurants where you can eat knowing that your server can afford to pay the rent and your cook isn’t working while sick.”

The guide is available for free download here.