May Day 2012 Immigrant Worker Justice Throwdown
Occupy Wall Street’s Immigrant Worker Justice Tour takes hundreds of protesters (and a brass band) through midtown Manhattan, calling out companies and bosses at several sites where immigrant workers’ rights are threatened. When some of the demonstrators take to the street, riot police arrive. But members of the OWS Immigrant Worker Justice Working Group marshall the crowd onto the sidewalks and into block-long picket lines to safely avoid police confrontation. **NOTE**Title at 5:04 should read “Industrial Workers of the World”
Picket #1: Shade Global, offices of Sheryl Shade, former employer of domestic worker Patricia Francois. In 2008 Francois, an immigrant from Trinidad, was physically assaulted while trying to protect the little girl she cared for from her father’s verbal abuse. When Francois tried to call the police, Matthew Mazar punched the domestic worker in the face and injured her hand while screaming racist, sexist insults at her. Ever since, Francois has been locked in litigation with Shade and Mazar. While they enjoy a swanky 1% lifestyle, Francois has gone without work while bravely battling breast cancer.
Picket #2: Praesidian Capital, 295 Madison Ave. Workers at Hot and Crusty bakery on the Upper East Side are facing a vicious anti-organizing campaign from Mark Samson, a managing partner at private equity firm Praesidian Capital. After enduring years of wage theft, discrimination, intimidation and sexual harassment on the job, workers joined together to form their own union. Samson refuses to recognize their right to organize, and has hired a union-busting firm to coerce workers to stay silent and not speak to supporters or the press. Samson has refused to reinstate a female worker who was sexually harassed on the job and forced to resign.
Picket #3: Wells Fargo, 99 Park Ave. The Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group are the two largest private prison companies in the US. Wells Fargo, Lazard, Blackrock, Fidelity, General Electric, Vanguard, Capital Group, and Wellington are some of the major investors in CCA and GEO. CCA, GEO and their investors have all made contributions to lawmakers who sponsor anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Georgia, and have cooperated in drafting anti-immigrant legislation through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Over 1 million immigrants have been detained in the past 3 years, as CCA and GEO’s combined ownership of 80% of private prison beds enabled their combined profits from the incarceration of human beings to reach $3.1 billion in 2009.
Picket #4: Capital Grille, 42nd St and 3rd Ave. Dignity at Darden is a nationwide workplace justice campaign launched by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United) involving Capital Grille workers in 5 cities. Darden Group, which owns Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Oliver Garden and more, is the largest full-service restaurant group in the world, and it claims to be a “leader” in the industry. However, workers have filed a class action lawsuit alleging wage theft and discrimination, and have sought to change other unfair working conditions, like lack of paid sick days, poverty wages, and an abusive working environment. There have also been claims of retaliation against the workers for organizing. Learn more about Dignity at Darden at http://www.dignityatdarden.org/
Picket #5: Chipotle, 9 W 42nd St. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program is an innovative, worker-led solution to the human rights crisis in the tomato fields of Florida, and includes a penny-per-pound premium for fairer wages and a strict code of conduct for better working conditions for farmworkers. Yet Chipotle, which has built its $2.27 billion revenue on the image of non-exploitative “Food with Integrity,” has refused to sign with the CIW for the past six year. Join the CIW and the Community/Farmworker Alliance in saying “ENOUGH CHIPOCRISY!” and demand that Chipotle finally sign the Fair Food Agreement! http://ciw-online.org/action.html