On March 10, 2017 in the midst of a winter storm three dozen workers gathered outside Sid Wainer & Son, a local gourmet grocer. The worker’s message was simple; they wanted to continue working for the company rather than be replaced by workers from a temporary agency. Sid Wainer & Son responded by dismissing them a week in advance. Below is a timeline of the events as they unfold starting with photos from the demonstration on March 10th
During a March 10th rally, workers gathered outside of Sid Wainer & Son waiting to speak with their manager. The company responded by calling the police who was unable to do anything about the situation, because no laws were being violated. The workers were then asked to continue the demonstration inside and out of the view of customers. There the company communicated with the workers through the police officer – an attempt to intimidate the workers. Workers where then told that they could speak to their manager in 15 minutes, which turned into a full hour wait.
[April 18th Update:]
On April 12th workers once again took to Sid Wainer’s Gourmet Outlet with the hopes that their voices would be heard both by the Sid Wainer administration as well as their customers. Workers were joined by several supporters and allies. Among the supporters was the Coalition for Social Justice, the UMASS Labor Education Center and many individuals who heard about the issues through the social media and the press.
Workers were also met by the company’s security personnel who acted as a visible barrier between the protesters and the company. After about 40 minutes of discourses from workers and their supporters a woman came out of Sid Wainer and Son’s offices an offered job applications to all the workers. Sopporters cheered and were quick to declare the small victory, however, workers were unsatisfied with the response. “She’s not even an employee of Sid Wainer, she works for Monroe Staffing,” said a worker named Carlos, “we don’t want temporary work, we want to be employed by the company.” The workers do not believe that this woman represents the company nor do they believe she is in a position to guarantee that the company will consider the workers for employment.
[May 1st Update:]
More than two weeks after alleging that workers are welcome to return to Sid Wainer & Son, the company has not yet given any date of possible reinstatement. “Is this [wait] really part of the process? Or are they just delaying our rejection to keep us from rallying?” said Benito, one of the dismissed workers.
On April 30th, workers once again gathered at CCT, ready to organize yet another rally to demand a concrete response from Sid Wainer & Son. “CCT will give you its full support” said Adrian Ventura, CCT’s executive director. “But there are other tactics we can use” Ventura continued “tomorrow is May 1st and in honor of May day, Worker’s day, we can ask for support from our allies.” Ventura went on to explain how workers could move beyond the rally style protest and ask our allies to flood the company with phone calls and faxes in support of the dismissed workers. Many of CCT’s allies are long-time customers of Sid Wainer and are more than willing to pressure the company to do what’s right. After all this is a company that profits from customers who want to believe that they are purchasing from a company that is socially and environmentally conscious.
Indeed, CCT remains watchful of Sid Wainer & Son, and supportive of the dismissed workers. We trust that the company will do as they say and rehire the workers, but we understand the concern of our members when they question the time it has taken for the company to rehire them. After all, many of these workers were at the company for almost two decades before being disposed of and replaced. The company should know whether these workers are capable of the jobs they are applying for.
[May 8th Update:]
After yet another series of promises, Sid Wainer & Son continues make excuses not to hire the 40 workers who were dismissed on March 10th. This time the company is saying that they need to wait to get an E-Verify Statement on the workers who applied for re-hiring. Workers say that this is an unnecessary step. “This is about justice not favors” said Camilo, one of the former Sid Wainer workers. Camilo continued “the company is acting like they’re doing us a favor by hiring us. The way I see it, they owe us an apology for treating us like replaceable commodities. If they’re really trying to to undo the wrong, they need simply to retract their decision, not put us through an extended hiring process.”
In a spontaneous meeting at CCT, the workers expressed their concerns after many were informed that their already extended hiring period will be even further delayed by the company’s decision to use E-verify, an online platform that allows employers to check the legal statuses and background information of incoming workers. The workers were not happy with the way that Sid Wainer & Son is treating them like new applicants rather than workers who have been there for up to 17 years. Many continue to question whether these measures are even a part of the hiring process or they’re just excuses to keep the workers at bay, both from working at the company and from organizing direct actions. Whatever their choices, CCT will continue to support this group of workers.