Supermarket Workers Look For Higher Pay

Staff Writer

A union representing workers at a South Ozone Park supermarket said the company does not want to give its employees a fair wage.

Members of the Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW have been rallying outside the Key Food supermarket at 135-46 Lefferts Blvd. the past couple of weeks, urging the company to get back to the negotiating table and agree to pay the workers a higher salary.

Photo by Luis Gronda Members of the Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW union have been rallying outside the Key Food supermarket in South Ozone Park.

Photo by Luis Gronda
Members of the Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW union have been rallying outside the Key Food supermarket in South Ozone Park.

According to Jack Caffey Jr., the senior field director of the union group, Key Food has tried to get rid of the union on multiple occasions but have been overruled by the National Labor Relations Board each time. The NLRB is an independent federal agency that advocates improving wages and working conditions of private sector workers.

Now, Caffey Jr. said the company has been in talks with the union but it does not appear interested in raising the $8-per-hour wage most of the workers there currently make.

“They’re not seriously negotiating with us. They don’t care about their workers, they only care about their own pockets,” Caffey Jr. said during a recent rally outside the supermarket. “These workers come in here every day and they work hard. And they don’t want to pay them.”

One employee who currently works at Key Food said the store does not treat its workers well, often forcing them to work in multiple departments at the same time. If they complain about the working conditions, the response they usually get is they are told to go home if they do not like it, the worker said.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s way too much. It’s an abuse,” the employee said.

The worker said there are several employees who are unhappy about the conditions at this Key Food and some have already left in pursuit of work in other supermarkets.

The Key Food employee agreed to speak to the Queens Tribune for this story on condition of anonymity due to fear of being disciplined by the supermarket for speaking about the working conditions.

The union has also filed a lawsuit with the NLRB against Key Food for unfair labor practices, according to Caffey Jr. He declined to discuss the charges in further detail as it is in its early stages, he said. The NLRB did not confirm whether or not that is true when asked about it as of press time.

Multiple attempts to contact the owner of that Key Food location, Sam Hassan, and its corporate headquarters for comment about this situation went unanswered as of press time.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, or @luisgronda.