Updated 6:00 p.m.
Hundreds of residents in the Jackson Heights community have pledged not to shop at one local supermarket unless a change is made.
In December, 50 union workers all lost their jobs just weeks before Christmas when the Trade Fair Supermarket on 37th Avenue abruptly closed its doors.
Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Local 342 UFCW, two unions representing the workers, reached out to the store’s new owner, Mohammed Haque, and after discussions, Haque indicated he would be willing to rehire some of the workers, according to the unions.
However, the new store, now called “Global Supermarket,” opened its doors on Thursday, January 30 — without any of the terminated Trade Fair workers.
Hearing about the opening, members of the two unions gathered with local elected officials and residents on Wednesday, January 29 in front of the store to call on the new owner to do “what is right.”
“We are extremely disappointed that over 50 families are still out in the cold, “said John R. Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “After discussions with Mr. Haque in December, he had indicated to us that he was willing to rehire many of the terminated workers. This is something we have yet to see happen. His blatant disregard of both the workers and the community that he serves is unacceptable.”
The group also delivered a petition, started by resident Danny Katch, that currently holds 500 signatures from Jackson Heights residents pledging to not shop at the supermarket unless the new owner rehires the workers. Volunteers plan on gathering more signatures.
“What has transpired at the Global Supermarket in Jackson Heights is a disgrace,” said Assemblymember Francisco Moya. “When our fellow hardworking New Yorkers are left out in the cold, we must demand action.”
“It’s disgraceful that the new owner of the old Trade Fair, now called Global Supermarket, has refused to rehire the locked out workers,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “Basic concern for the community would require that the owner help these workers that lost their jobs abruptly before Christmas.”
Haque told The Courier that “sadly, right now” he cannot do anything for the workers because it took a lot of money to repair the supermarket and he still has to see how business does once it opens up.
He has hired workers previously employed by him at his other stores, and he is trying to manage Global Supermarket with fewer employees.
However, Haque said he would love to sit down with the elected and union officials to discuss the issue and explain his case.
He also said he hopes the community will give him the chance and if business succeeds then eventually he could hire some of the terminated Trade Fair workers.
“Without the community support, without my customers, I cannot do business,” said Haque. “I want to say to the community that I expect them to give me an opportunity to serve them.”