Friday, February 27, 2009

$1.5 million in unpaid overtime...

United Food and Commercial WorkersImage via Wikipedia

By: Kate Meckler, UFCW

In light of today's breaking news regarding the 1.5 million dollars that gourmet grocers Amish Market, Zeytinia, Zeytinz and Zeytuna were fined for not paying their workers properly, I am compelled to talk about the
Gourmet Grocery Industry in Manhattan.

As the DOL's Commissioner Smith reported on
the experiences of some of the workers, I had tears in my eyes
wondering how this could still be happening in America? It's 2009 and
we're still fighting for workers to be treated with dignity and
respect, to be treated fairly, and to know that when they go to work
each day they're getting paid an honest day's pay for an honest day's

This is why we are working on a broader Gourmet Grocery Campaign,
which is a part of our Building Blocks Project to bring Good Food,
Good Jobs, and Good Health to all NYC residents. We're talking about
improving Manhattan's Gourmet Grocery Industry by making sure there
is safe, fresh food for consumers, and a real voice on the job for the
workers in these stores, which we believe leads to good health for all
New Yorkers.

We'll keep you posted on our latest research and findings...Coming
soon: A report card on your local Gourmet Grocer!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

NY Department of Labor announces $1.5 Million Enforcement Action Against NYC Gourmet Grocery Stores


News from New York State Department of Labor

For more information contact: Leo Rosales, 518-457-5519

Labor Department Announces $1.5 Million Enforcement Action Against New York Gourmet Grocery Stores

Amish Market, Zeytinia, Zeytinz and Zeytuna Cheated Approximately 550 Workers out of Overtime Wages

ALBANY, NY (02/26/2009; 1319)(readMedia)-- At a press conference in New York City, State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith today detailed the findings of a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation of Amish Market and its related stores: Zeytinia, Zeytinz and Zeytuna. The stores, which specialize in gourmet "on-the-go" cuisine and cater to an upscale clientele, operate mostly out of Manhattan, but also have locations in Queens, Croton-on-Hudson and Hyde Park. As a result of this investigation, approximately 550 workers will receive nearly $1.5 million, primarily in unpaid overtime wages.

"These stores market themselves as 'the answer to busy people's dilemma,'" said Commissioner Smith. "But while busy patrons bought gourmet meals, busy workers were working up to 60 hours per week without being paid overtime."

Commissioner Smith continued, "It's unfathomable to think that in this day and age - in these frightening economic times - an employer would actually believe it could get away with cheating workers out such an exorbitant amount of their hard earned money. This case is a prime example of collaboration, good detective work and, as always, strong labor law enforcement."

The case involving Amish Market, Zeytinia, Zeytinz and Zeytuna was referred to the Department of Labor by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500, which has since become a member of New York State Wage Watchers, the Labor Department's pilot community policing program.

As part of their community outreach efforts, the union met with workers at one of the Amish Market stores. They realized that workers were not being paid overtime, and brought the issue to the Department of Labor's attention. Under state labor law, employers are required to pay overtime for weekly hours past 40 at 1½ times the employee's regular pay rate.

At the beginning of the case, UFCW Local 1500 served as a liaison between workers and the Department of Labor, bringing workers to the DOL's New York City offices to provide information.

DOL staff researched the stores and learned that in fact there were nine locations statewide with joint or overlapping ownership. In order to maximize the impact of the enforcement effort, a sweep was conducted by over 30 investigators from the Division of Labor Standards simultaneously at nine locations throughout the State. Investigators visited each location unannounced, at the same time on the same day, in order to prevent owners and managers from coaching employees or destroying records. Widespread overtime violations were found as a result of the sweep, with many workers clocking between 45 and 60 hours per week but being paid only "straight time" -- and not the overtime rate required by law.

In addition, the DOL found that at a few locations, the employer unlawfully paid new hires subminimum wages during a so-called "trial period." The minimum wage in New York State is $7.15 per hour and will increase to $7.25 per hour in July, 2009.

In the course of the investigation, one worker was fired for providing information to the DOL. The DOL subsequently obtained lost compensation and penalties based on the unlawful retaliation. Typically, however, DOL's statutory remedies in retaliation cases are limited to issuing a $2,000 penalty. Last year the Department proposed legislation to increase remedies in retaliation cases.

Thus far, Amish Market, Zeytinia, Zeytinz and Zeytuna have agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million dollars (approximately $300,000 for 26 employees is still in negotiations), primarily in overtime wages, due to current and former employees of the stores.

Bruce W. Both, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 said, "When workers do not receive the pay they are entitled to by law, both the workers and tax payers suffer. Unpaid wages also mean unpaid taxes. We can never tolerate that, especially in these difficult economic times. The New York State Department of Labor and the workers from Amish Markets, a gourmet grocery store serving high-end food products, deserve the gratitude of every taxpayer in this city because they had the courage to stand up and say: 'This is wrong!' Today, the only thing being served and delivered by these grocery workers is justice."

This investigation was handled by more than 30 investigators from the Division of Labor Standards, located in the New York City, White Plains, and Albany district offices. Commissioner Smith also commended the work of Investigator Jorge Alvarez of the Apparel Industry/Fair Wages Task Force, who successfully negotiated settlements on behalf of workers at several stores in New York City. The investigation was carried out under the supervision of Lorelei Boylan, Director of Strategic Enforcement in the Division of Labor Standards and Carmine Ruberto, Director of the Division of Labor Standards.

The State Labor Department encourages employers and workers to contact the department about wage and hour issues. Investigators will answer any questions regarding New York's labor laws. Information is also available on the department's web site -; or by phone at 1-888-52-LABOR.


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Wal-Mart NYC rumors, Food Stamps in NYC, Employee Free Choice

Midtown Manhattan, New York City, from Rockefe...Image via Wikipedia

Wal-Mart NYC Rumors

The Gothamist

The Villager

Other Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart still exploring "food deserts".

Wal-Mart weekly: Employee Free Choice and what it means to the Wal-Mart stock.
From Wal-Mart Watch Daily News Clips:

Fight against "card check" escalates [Kansas City Star (Mo.)]
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today launched a pre-emptive strike against the most controversial labor-related bill expected in Congress this year.

Wal-Mart East Patchogue Fight.


A coalition of retailers and other businesses known as New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes is planning a demonstration here today to object to a proposed “sin tax” on juice drinks and soda.
Read more of this story

NY Times Editorial: Food Stamps in hard times.

Brooklyn's Red Hook Ikea: Number 1 in the continent.


Poll: Only 19% of New Yorkers would vote for Gov. David Paterson to full term

The National Peanut Board will turn New York City into Peanutopolis on March 4 and March 5 as it introduces its newest advertising campaign for America’s favorite legume, as well as a new slogan: "Peanuts: Energy for the Good Life."

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Top Economists agree, Employee Free Choice right for the country

From Wal-Mart Watch Daily News Clips:

Fight against "card check" escalates [Kansas City Star (Mo.)]
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today launched a pre-emptive strike against the most controversial labor-related bill expected in Congress this year.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Morning One Liners...

Chuck SchumerImage via Wikipedia

Several Southern California grocers are planning store closings and layoffs due to the impact of today's tough economy, according to a published account.

Chuck Schumer to head the Senate immigration subcommittee.

Obama raises hopes for unions...

Bloomberg's popularity falls to a 4 year low.

STUDY: 14,000 people are losing health insurance every day

According to a report released by Health Care for America Now and the Center for American Progress, 14,000 Americans are losing health insurance every day during this economic crisis.

Wal-Mart has agreed to change its recruitment and hiring methods for over-the-road truck drivers, and pay $17.5 million to thousands who say they were denied the jobs because of their race, resolving a nationwide class-action lawsuit that was set for trial next month.

Wegman's plans on more 'southern expansion'.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Citarella to Long Island East End, Gourmet Garage recalls peanuts, Wal-Mart pays $49,000,000 in back wages....

Rock Hill, South CarolinaImage via Wikipedia

A former IGA in eastern Long Island will become a Citarella.

More from the South Hampton Press on Citarella.

The Gourmet Garage has recalled peanuts.

Smithfield Foods has announced plans to close six plants and shed 1,800 staff.

Another poll concluded that New Yorkers want an income tax hike for the rich.

Gristedes buys Jefferson Market.

Changing of the guard at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart outpaces a weak economy.

Wal-Mart in South Carolina pays $49,000,000 in back wages.

Albertsons to close 9 stores.

Comparable-store sales fell 4% at Whole Foods Market here in the first quarter, the company said yesterday. Net income declined 17.4%, to $32.3 million, on flat sales overall of about $2.47 billion.
Read more of this story

Stop & Shop here will partner with Willard Bishop, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Modiv Media for a series of in-store marketing tests to measure the effectiveness of Modiv’s promotional delivery systems.
Read more of this story

Economist: Wages don't reflect increased productivity.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lots of News: Wal-Mart, Employee Free Choice,

United Food and Commercial WorkersImage via Wikipedia

Albor Ruiz has an excellent editorial on the Employee Free Choice Act.

Long Island Business News writes on Employee Free Choice, has a few quotes from UFCW and SEIU.

Stop & Shop at Hampton Bays is nearly complete.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will cut 700 to 800 jobs at its northwestern Arkansas headquarters as it builds fewer new stores this year and makes other operational changes, the world's largest retailer announced last week.

Rumors of a BJ's Wholesale Club in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

25 Chinese garment workers sued manufacturer Liberty for labor violations and back wages last week and won.

WSJ: Pricing Wars in the Grocery Store Aisles.

Half of Wal-Mart employees still without Health Insurance.

Wal-Mart executives are moving.

They're also bringing their new logo to Canada.

A coalition of concerned New Yorkers last week announced the formation of New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes, the primary aim of which will be to defeat Albany's proposed 18 percent tax hike on juice drinks and soda.

Supermarket News picked up the story.

Ceasar Trunzo will step down as Islip GOP Chairman.

Just six weeks into his second term, state Assemblyman Greg Ball, R-Patterson is considering challenging John Hall.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Whole Foods fined for out dated items, BJ's Gaining Ground, Tuesday news...

CostcoImage via Wikipedia

Whole Foods in White Plains, was fined $12,250 for 156 outdated items.

Jim Donald, the former chief executive officer of Starbucks and a veteran executive of supermarket companies Safeway and Pathmark, has joined the faculty at University of Washington-Bothell here as an executive-in-residence, the university said.
Read more of this story

Rachel Ray is releasing a Supermarket Guide.

A new report announced low income shoppers will generate highest retail food sales.

Wal-Mart continues to survive the recession.

Wal-Mart plans to double grocery in Massachusetts and stress more grocery.

BJ's gaining ground on Costco and Wal-Mart.

Wine Merchants in Brooklyn worried over supermarkets selling wine.

Brian Foley plans hearing on states foreclosure notice law.

Plans to raise taxes on rich gains momentum. [NYT]

Peter King, making a push for the newly appointed Senate seat, blasts Kristin Gilibrand.
Mark Green announced he's running for Public Advocate.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Wal-Mart uses rescession as ally to open new stores in Chicago, Fresh Market and family, Monday Morning News...

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 26:  Wal-Mart employee Mic...Image by

What's the haps with Wal-Mart

Citing the need for new investment to boost the sagging local economy, Wal-Mart is preparing to launch a new push for approval of as many as five new stores in Chicago, sources said Thursday.

Wal-Mart eyes 12 'Food Deserts' in Chicago.

Wal-Mart to cash a check for up to 6 times to state fee in Connecticut.

Grand Jury is calling witnesses for the Wal-Mart stampede this past Thanksgiving.

Springsteen fans: "disappointed" [Wal-Mart deal]


Fresh Market goes corporate: The 26-year family run 'The Fresh Market' came to an end last week when the Berry family stepped down from CEO position.

A Federal agency declares Bashas' discriminates against Hispanic employees.

Smith's & Food 4 Less ratify UFCW contracts in Las Vegas.

BJ's Wholesale Club goes back to basics.


New York Times:
Patterson's Supermarket Winery's.

More on the debate on selling wine in Supermarkets.

NY GOP to Guiliani: "Help"

Working Families Party pushes forward in Suffolk County.

SEIU, UCFW and other worker rights advocates are escalating their campaign against Republican efforts to obstruct the appointment of Congressmember Hilda Solis as the new Labor Secretary. Solis

Companies and Unions set to square off on Employee Free Choice.

Gillibrand the flip flopper.

Andrew Cuomo, not running for Governor, speaks to conservatives.
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Friday, February 6, 2009

It's time to pass Employee Free Choice, Bashas' to close stores, Friday Morning News

WASHINGTON - JUNE 19:  U.S. Senate Majority Le...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Employee Free Choice, on Tuesday over one million signatures were handed to congress on a petition urging congress to sign EFCA.

Workers to Congress: "It's time to pass Employee Free Choice"

Union leaders brought hundreds of their rank-and-file members and petitions that they said held 1.5 million signatures to Capitol Hill for a rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, escalating an already intense fight over the controversial bill. [Associated Press]

CNN: Struggle between workers and business


Local businesses "Supermarket wine sales will sink us."

The first sales tax check for 2009 came in Thursday and it showed Nassau County was starting the year the same way it closed out last year -- on a downward spiral.

Jobs for immigrants in Long Island are scarce.

Western Union has signed a five-year renewal agreement with The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Inc. to extend money transfer, money order and bill payment services throughout the majority of the grocer's stores.

Bashas' in Arizona is planning to close five locations, including its prototype Ike's Farmers Market near Tuscon, the company's president told SN.
Read more of this story

Bruno's Supermarkets, LLC, owner and operator of the Bruno's and Food World supermarket banners, has filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S.

Calorie disclosures on menus are affecting New York City restaurant-goers' choices and which restaurants they choose to visit, a new study shows.
Read more of this story

Ending a three-month recount process, Jim Gennaro finally conceded to incumbent state senator Frank Padavan.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

A&P to close 5 stores, Wakefern cuts wages of pro union employee, Thursday Morning One Liners..

This is the PriceRite Grocery Depot in Azusa, CAImage via Wikipedia

A&P to close
5 SuperFresh stores.

Joe Sorrentino, a worker at a Wakefern PriceRite Supermarket in North Providence, Rhode Island, has been punished (pay cut) for standing up for a union at his workplace, according to charges filed by UFCW Local Union 328 with the National Labor Relations Board.

A spokeswoman for Wakefern Food Corp. told SN Wednesday that the retailer demoted a Rhode Island worker for violating company policy, and not for speaking at a pro-labor rally, as a local union alleged.

Read more of this story

Here's the story on UFCW filing the charge.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it would extend settlement talks 
with Whole Foods Markets Inc for a month in hopes of resolving an antitrust case
against the upscale grocery chain.
A piece of Gov. David Paterson's plan to plug a $13 billion budget deficit appeared to fall out Wednesday when union leaders rejected his ideas of scrapping a pay raise for state workers and having them work five days without pay.

Aldi selects a new Ad Agency.

Another death at Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart in the midst of a magazine battle.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported a better-than-expected 2.1 percent rise in January sales at U.S.

Costco Wholesale Corp. here yesterday said it expects it earnings for the second quarter, which ends Feb. 15, to be below analysts' consensus estimates of 70 cents per share, largely because of slow sales in nonfood items, heavy markdowns, weaker margins in fuel sales and soft international results against a strengthening U.S. dollar.
Read more of this story

Fresh & Easy’s produce sales have increased more than 11% since January, when the company introduced its new 98-cent produce packs, the company said yesterday in a release.
Read more of this story

The future of NYC (Slide Show, Crain's)

About one hundred protesters burst into a Midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom, and interrupted Mayor Bloomberg as he gave a speech about the city's economic outlook.

Andrew Cuomo accepted an invitation to speak to the Conservative Party, speculating more rumors.

Patterson to limit subway fare and toll increases.

Gillibrand to visit Brooklyn school who lost a student to gun violence.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

South Bronx rezoned, Layoffs at Bashas', Mike Duke, One Liners...

In supermarkets, sellers periodically change p...Image via Wikipedia

Banks will be taking over the shops at the Atlas Park in Glendale Queens.

The Department of City Planning announced Monday that it will begin public review of the rezoning of the lower Grand Concourse in the South Bronx, to go mixed use.

Contrary to some expectations, supermarket prepared foods departments are not seeing much benefit as the result of the economic downturn, a financial analyst said Monday.

Wal-Mart's India invasion.

Bashas' grocery chain is laying off 350 workers.

Macy's cuts 7,000 jobs.

Judge cancels Whole Foods hearings.

LA Times OP-ED "Labor's real fight"

Advertising Age looks at Springsteen's Wal-Mart regrets.

What will Mike Duke do?

Sign a letter of support for Wal-Mart workers.


Suozzi: "Things are as bad as they can be"

Suozzi also has an editorial in the NY Post.

Steve Israel raised nearly half a million dollars at the end of 2008.

Republicans are gearing up to challenge Patterson.

Citi is exploring options on breaking their stadium pact with the Mets.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Fairway to open in Connecticut, Springsteen calls Wal-Mart deal a 'mistake', Monday Morning One Liners...

SAN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 22:  Whole Foods empl...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Fairway gets the OK to build its first Connecticut store.

In an interview with the New York Times Bruce Springsteen calls his exclusive Wal-Mart deal a "mistake"
...“given its labor history, it was something that if we’d thought about it a little longer, we’d have done something different.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers union on Friday said it supported the White House Taskforce on Middle Class Working Families, which will be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
Read more of this story eyes Grocery in the UK.

Whole Foods Market last week offered to settle the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust investigation of its 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Markets.

Read more of this story

An appeals court in Amsterdam has sentenced three former Ahold executives to suspended sentences and fines over their roles in the retailer's 2003 accounting scandal, reports said.
Read more of this story

Perry Kramer, vice president of sales operations, corporate and distributed solutions at BJ’s Wholesale Club, Natick, Mass., has been elected co-chair of the board of directors of the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), the standards division of the National Retail Federation here.


Gillibrand to meet with Hispanics on Immigration.

SNL doesn't care if Patterson is offended.

Bloomberg: "No joke, I'll cut 23,000 jobs"

Lawmakers say Citi should remove its name from the new Mets' stadium.
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