May 27, 2009

Nothing At All 'Fine' About 'Fine Foods' Company

How would you like to make $8 an hour and have no health care benefits, but rub shoulders with the super-rich?

The Upper East Side in New York City, UES to Manhattanites, is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. $1,200 per square foot is about what it's going to cost someone to buy space in the neighborhood, and renting a one-bedroom apartment runs about $2,200 per month.

One zip code in the UES gives more money to political candidates than any other zip code in the nation. Average income in that area is about $176,000.

This is where Bravo's Real Housewives of New York City live.

You would think that an uber-gourmet grocery store that serves this neighborhood--the kind that charges an arm and a leg for special pepper spread from some place none of us have ever heard of--would be willing to pay their employees a decent wage.

Think again.

Agata and Valentina, the fine food grocery where foodie icon Rachael Ray got her start, fired Roberto De La Cruz in March because he had begun organizing to unionize the grocery. De La Cruz, who worked at Agata and Valentina for six years, knew that some employees only made $8 an hour and that many worked without health care benefits. So he contacted the UFCW, the grocery workers' union. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, to be exact.

De La Cruz said he believes he was let go for one reason: "I was called into the office and fired. They told me it was because I supported a union."

Hundreds of community supporters, concerned shoppers, and UFCW members are rallying this afternoon to call attention to the way Agata & Valentina unfairly treats their employees.

If you are in New York, please show up today at 3:30 on the corner of 1st Ave and E 79th St. for a rally to call on Agata and Valentina to rescind their immoral and unlawful termination of De La Cruz. The rally, 'Nothing 'Fine' About It," will help highlight the irresponsible behavior of this so-called "fine foods" company.

All workers should have the right to organize free from harassment and intimidation. But Agata and Valentina seems to think it's more important to have the best cheeses in the world than it is to treat their workers with dignity and respect. And there's nothing "fine" about that.

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