BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
The 50 workers who were left unemployed days before Christmas after the owner of the Trade Fair Supermarket in Jackson Heights abruptly sold the store are still without jobs.
The shuttered Trade Fair Supermarket re-opened as Global Supermarket, located at 37th Avenue and 75th Street, on Jan. 29.
That same day, Local 338 Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union/United Food and Commercial Workers and Local 342 United Food and Commercial Workers members stood with the terminated workers and local elected officials to condemn the new owner of Global Supermarket, Mohammed Haque, for not rehiring the old workers.
They delivered a petition signed by more than 500 local residents, who want to see Haque live up to his promise of rehiring many of the workers, or else face a community-organized boycott of the store.
John Durso, president of Local 388 RWDSU/UFCW, said they are extremely disappointed to see more than 50 families left out in the cold, since Haque indicated last December that he was willing to rehire many of the terminated workers, some of whom worked at the Trade Fair Supermarket for more than 14 years.
“His blatant disregard of both the workers and the community that he serves is unacceptable,” Durso said.
Rafael Polanco, 62, a terminated worker, called on Haque to rehire the former employees because he has a son and a family to care for, in addition to his monthly bills.
“Does the owner of this new store have no heart?” he asked.
Polanco said he is collecting $187 a week from the labor department, but his rent alone is $500 a month.
“You think this is enough?” he said. “This is the United States and everything is very expensive. I don’t care who the owner is and I don’t care how much you want to pay me, but I need a job.”
Danny Katch, 39, who lives on top of the supermarket, said he would not shop there until the owner fixes his mess.
“This is our neighborhood and I know my family relies on union benefits and knowing we are going to have a future, so to see these families lose all of that is a huge gaping hole in the neighborhood,” he said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who was one of the elected officials at the rally, said the community stands with the workers in unison.
“Eventually, if he [Haque] doesn’t sit down with the union in good faith, then unfortunately there will be repercussions from the community,” Peralta said. “They won’t shop here and he has to take that into consideration. These hardworking men and women have been out of jobs since last Christmas, so something has to be done.”
Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson) spoke to Sam, the manager of Global Market on duty, asking him to deliver their message to Haque.
“We want you to prosper, but at the same time we want to make sure that the community feels comfortable with the business,” Peralta said.
Moya said the owner has to step up to the plate.
“He has to come to table and talk about the 500 signatures that are on this petition,” Moya said. “We want to mediate this and come to a solution so that the workers and the community are satisfied. If he wants to prosper, then come to the table and talk to us.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.