Labor leaders, residents and elected officials are planning to rally on the Upper West Side on Saturday for a sweatshop-free community. The event is timed to the 100-year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 garment workers lost their lives.
At the rally, organizers will announce a Sweatshop Free Upper West Side Campaign, in which local businesses are encouraged to pledge to uphold savory labor conditions and fair practices. Each business that makes a pledge will receive a sticker. Already, retailers including Apple Tree Supermarket, Flor De Mayo, Mama Mexico and Sol y Sombra have pledged their support of the campaign.
“We're going to be calling on the community to get more pledges, this is just the start,” said Wendy Cheung, a representative from the Justice Will Be Served Campaign, one of the sponsors of the rally. “We're hoping more and more businesses in the area will join in.”
A few hundred people are expected to attend the event, which will be held in front of the Saigon Grill Restaurant at Amsterdam Avenue and West 90th Street. In recent years, former workers of Saigon have alleged that the restaurant engaged in unfair labor practices, such as age discrimination and retaliation against organizing workers. Saigon came under new management last year, but Ms. Cheung said the company has continued its unsavory treatment.
“A few years ago, our community supported a boycott of the Saigon Grill,” State Rep. Linda Rosenthal said, in a statement. “Now, we're back, defending workers being mistreated by their new owners.” She will attend the rally, accompanied by City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, New York state Senators Tom Duane and Adriano Espaillat, and local student and faith-based organizations.
Saigon Grill claims the allegations are false and remains unfazed by the location of the rally.
“This is a restaurant, not a sweatshop,” said Riu Wang, assistant manager of the eatery. He noted that the workers making such allegations were never employed by the company. “There's nothing illegal,” he said.
Rally against sweatshops set for Saturday - Crain's New York Business