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Time to Keep Working

By Bill Reed, December 15, 2010

Perhaps you have heard about the Flaum Appetizing company cheating their employees out of large amounts of overtime pay and firing the workers for joining the IWW. Perhaps you were leafleting or picketing at supermarkets last summer or last spring to support the workers and get customers to boycott Sonny and Joe’s hummus. Perhaps you were in court or read about the National Labor Relations Board ruling against the owner.

The owner has simply refused to obey the federal laws including the NLRB ruling.

The Flaum company has been treating their staff badly and breaking the federal labor laws for a long time. This is business as usual in New York - and many parts of the U.S.

These workers have been standing up for their human rights. This shows that they are stronger and smarter than a lot of people who get cheated and unjustly fired. Lots of people just take it and move on with their lives. Look for a new employer. Hope that they are not repeating the situation.

When the labor union movement grew in the U.S., or anywhere, it was because labor united. People have to band together and try some ways to demand and get better treatment. It is just that simple. Sure, it is complicated in many ways, but the solid rock bottom basic truth of the matter is that people need to unite together and do something with as many of the other regular working people/taxed consumers as possible. We need to stick together to somehow force the wealthy powerful owners of the businesses and the government to stop their wicked ways.

The government is not normally enforcing laws when the wealthy break them. The law tricks us and deceives us. The rich - they have no legal obligations. We will always have some problems in our lives. If your problem is with an employer who does something wrong or even illegal – I’ve heard owners and managers tell my coworkers, “What are you gonna do? Call a cop?” We’ve got to help each other.

Lower wages down the block and cuts in benefits throughout the region will spread to where you work. We have these serious guys doing the right thing banding together and fighting back in a city where that does not happen nearly enough. Some people are watching what’s happening. Do you want the bosses to see that the workers keep losing or try for awhile and then give up?

When the wobs are leafleting at a supermarket some of the people walking by stop and talk. Some of them are small business owners or large business owners. They are very interested to see what is going on. Will they see a small group of concerned people or a large group? Will they see people who come back regularly or just once? Only on mild summer days or all year round? It is rare to see picket lines or labor leafleting in NYC. What does this show the average New Yorker? For too many Americans the labor movement happened in the 1930s. Too many people read about labor history, listen to Bill Brag sing an old Woody Guthrie labor song and maybe subscribe to a magazine like Mother Jones, but have never been in a union, have never seen people out on the streets trying to build one, or have never seen workers asking a store’s customers to help do the right thing.

We NEED to support these IWW guys who were fired from Flaum. We need to show the employing class who shop at the stores where we leaflet that we are going to keep trying to accomplish an important task. We need the rest of the regular working people to see that we can do it, keep doing it and do it again. We are teaching by example. It needs to be the best possible example.

Focus on the Food Chain, a joint alliance between the IWW and Brandworkers, has been coordinating leafleting actions at KRM Kollel Supermarket at 1325 39th Street, between 13th and 14th Avenues in Brooklyn. In addition, the IWW has been holding weekly demonstrations outside the house of the owner of Flaum. The winter is going to get colder.

Flaum products are sold throughout New York and parts of New Jersey. Please join the wobblies at the leafleting and let’s expand the struggle. Ask your friends, family, and the corner bodega to boycott Flaum, its company brand Sonny & Joe's, and the brands Tnuva and Bodek, which are both exclusively distributed by Flaum in the NYC area. No leafleting near you? You can start leafleting in your town. For more information go to which is helping these wobbly workers with the struggle. You can also call 917-577-1110 for info how to plug into weekly actions.

As Daniel Gross from Brandworkers says, “Brothers and Sisters: Let's start the final round against Flaum until victory.”