Community organizers rallied outside a grocery store in Kensington, Brooklyn on Saturday calling for a boycott, claiming that at least one of the store's employees who died last month of cancer did not get enough pay or benefits to get proper medical treatment. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Activists with New York Communities for Change called for a boycott of the Golden Farm International Grocery Store in Kensington, Brooklyn on Saturday. The organization claims the store's employees are being treated unfairly and not getting enough money for their work.
"For many years they were working below minimum wage, they were working without paid sick days, they were working without a contract," said NYCC organizer Lucas Sanchez.
The rally was held in honor of Felix Trinidad, the 34-year-old father of two who according to organizers ignored his stomach pains in order to work at the supermarket, where he was not provided paid sick days. Trinidad died of cancer last month.
"This Golden Farm fight is part of that broader fight so that all New Yorkers to have paid sick days," said Sanchez.
So far, about 2,000 people have signed a petition supporting the boycott but not everyone in the neighborhood agreed.
"This is half the price of Food Town," said an opponent of the boycott. "When I go in there and ask the cashiers in there who have a general conception of what goes on in the store, they say, 'We have no interest in union. None of us work full-time enough to need these benefits. We are all on public health insurance and the minute our wages go up, we’ll get kicked off our Health Plus, so we aren’t interested in it.'"
Still, a few local shoppers decided to get their groceries at a store across the street.
"I went to the other store because owners don’t pay enough money for the workers. It's no good," said a supporter of the boycott.
City Council members are on both sides of the sick days debate. Some are willing to push for a bill guaranteeing five paid sick days a year for most workers, while opponents believe that burden would be too much for small businesses.
Either way, organizers have a plan to stand outside the Golden Farm store every day during peak hours, in an ongoing effort to pressure the store owner to make a change and unionize.