Tag Archives: Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW

Jackson Heights calls on new owner to rehire terminated Trade Fair workers

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

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.”



Workers left unemployed for Christmas after Trade Fair abruptly closes

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of RWDSU Communications

Rafael Polanco might have to tell his two children that this Christmas will come without presents.

The East Elmhurst resident, along with 49 other union workers, all lost their jobs on Dec. 10 when the Trade Fair Supermarket, on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, closed its doors abruptly without giving the workers any notice.

The workers claimed they turned up on Tuesday morning and management told them the store had been sold and they had to go home because they no longer had jobs.

“They didn’t give us an explanation. They didn’t give us a number to call. They didn’t say anything about the new owner. No one gave us an explanation,” said Polanco, who has been a deli worker at Trade Fair for 14 years. “They treat their workers like animals. We are human, they should give us explanations.

Members of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and Local 342 UFCW, unions representing the Trade Fair workers, gathered with local elected officials and community members in front of the supermarket on Dec. 13 to protest Trade Fair’s actions and to call on the new owner, Amana Key Food LLC, to hire the terminated workers.

According to the unions, Trade Fair’s closing and termination of the worker violates the collective bargaining agreements held with the owner, which demands the company give the union and workers two weeks notice of either sale or closure.

Amana Key Food LLC filed an application or a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority for the site on November 14, showing the sale has been in the works for more than a month, according to the unions.

In March, meat department workers in all nine Queens Trade Fair locations went on an Unfair Labor Practice strike fighting for a fair contract and against unfair labor practices. During the strike the owner was accused of treating workers with disrespect and putting their live in danger with exits being blocked most of the time.

“For far too long he [Farid Jaber] has been a bad neighbor,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “This is a clear violation of his contractual obligation and labor law. He has betrayed his employees and the community of Jackson Heights.”

Last week’s termination happened just weeks before Christmas, leaving workers like Polanco looking for jobs and wondering where they will get money to give gifts to their kids.

“Us older people we understand the situation but the children don’t understand,” Polanco said.

According to a union representative, days after the rally Amana Key Food LLC handed out job applications to the terminated workers, but none have been hired yet.

Amana Key Food LLC could not be reached for comment and Trade Fair did not respond.