Not Paying Wages is Fishy Business


Brandworkers International Members. Workers for Wild Edibles get to work at 2:00 AM to count, cut and package fish and get it out in trucks by morning. Photo: Brian Palmer, North Star Fund.

Immigrant Workers Win Campaign Against Seafood Company

Brandworkers International, a New York–based group that defends the rights of food and store workers, won its case against the seafood company Wild Edibles. The two dozen workers, who cut, package and deliver fish to restaurants and markets, said that they were not paid for the additional hours they worked.

The settlement of $340,000 will pay for unpaid overtime hours as well as money for workers who were fired for asserting their rights. Wild Edibles also committed to respect all workplace laws including health and safety for its workers.

In turn, Brandworkers promised to end its two-year boycott campaign that persuaded over 75 New York City restaurants to boycott (not buy) seafood from Wild Edibles, causing the seafood company to file for bankruptcy (legally declared out of money).

The workers, all but one of whom are immigrants, used community organizing in an effort to defend their legal rights at Wild Edibles.

“In this economic downturn, it’s more important than ever that workers’ rights are respected and wage theft is not tolerated,” said Cesar Barturen, a former driver at Wild Edibles and a member of Brandworkers.

“We’re on top of the world today because more than anything we showed that ordinary workers can get organized, take action together and win,” said Raymundo Lara Molina, a former Wild Edibles employee and member of Brandworkers.

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