Yellow Rat Bastard workers fight back and join a union

WooHoo, a little over 7 months after I reported on the unsavory employment conditions in my article "NYC: Yellow Rat Bastard's owner turns out to be a scumbag" about how Yellow Rat Bastard had been paying its employees below minimum wage, without overtime, without taxes and had retaliated against employees who complained, the workers have fought back and decided to become members of a union.

For a few months after I wrote that story I was the number 2 hit on Google for the term "Yellow Rat Bastard", time has dropped me down the list, along with possibly some help by employees of the firm spreading the name around and creating a few separate entries for the site, but all's fair in the internet, at least for now. (I do this for free, they should have just hired me, hey look I'm #7 for The Employee Free Choice Act on Google today)

I know as matter-of-fact, that my story has been read thousands of times by people just looking through Google for info about the store, possibly all of the employees who decided to become union.

From the RWDSU site:
Yellow Rat Bastard Workers Join RWDSU in New York (10/7/08)

Workers at urban youth fashion retail chain Yellow Rat Bastard have joined the RWDSU, continuing on a path to a union contract that they have sought for three years. The 160 workers joined the RWDSU via a card check recognition on October 3.

Workers at Yellow Rat Bastard, which has seven stores throughout New York CIty, have continually suffered abuses including criminally low pay and overtime violations. Earlier this year, the clothing chain agreed to pay a $1.4 million settlement to over 1,000 workers who had been cheated out of fair pay. The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, came as a result of the efforts of the Retail Action Project, a partnership between the RWDSU and the community group Good Old Lower East Side.

"This another step toward justice, dignity, and respect for the workers at Yellow Rat Bastard, whose owners have too often lived up to their store's name," said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbuam. "We can only hope that management agrees to respect the decision of its workers and negotiates a contract in good faith."
A handshake and an 'atta boy" at the next CLC meeting from Mr.Applebaum would be nice, as I would be honored to meet the man whose writting's I wholeheartedly admire.

Finally being able to shop at Yellow Rat Bastard with a good conscience is even better, now if they will sign a 'no sweatshop, fair trade" pledge, I'd be thrilled. We'll take what we can as we can get it I guess.

Joe's atta boy goes out to the 160 workers who now are union, after the abuse they took, I'm really happy for them, my only advice, is give your employer a good days work and speak to your friends and family on the diferance between justice you finally have and what you went through to get there. Together we are strong, divided we beg.

You can read some of Stuart Applebaum's writings at various sites around the internet and the homepage of the Jewish Labor Committee, which he serves as President.

The JLC is a fantastic site, which the heritage of the American Jew is woven into today's world, they do not forget where they came from, the employee abuse, like so many of our heritages suffered. It is important that we all learn from the past.

Most importantly, the Jewish Labor Comittees policy statement on the worker abuses at AgriProcessors, which in part states:

In reviewing the complaints of Agriprocessors’ employees, the JLC learned that there is a clear pattern of employer negligence and even lawlessness. Among the most troubling practices by Agriprocessors are:

• abuse of child labor laws;
• failure to pay workers the full amount of wages they have earned;
• unnecessary exposure of workers to dangerous -- even life-threatening -- working conditions;
• sexual harassment.

The JLC has also learned that Agriprocessors is actively waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment against workers who have expressed an interest in exercising their legal right to union representation.

In this atmosphere, it is clear that the recent ICE raid at Agriprocessors, though apparently legal, only buttresses the conviction shared by many undocumented workers that our government is not only indifferent to worker abuse, but works in collusion with management to penalize workers who challenge it.

While there are many differing perspectives regarding immigration reform, the American Jewish community shares a common conviction that all workers -- regardless of their immigration status -- must be free to exercise their rights and challenge employer abuses. Our belief is grounded in the collective memory of American Jewry of the gross exploitation of Jewish immigrants by employers who, like Agriprocessors, abused and robbed them of their right to dignity in the workplace.

I wish it could be "the American community shares a common conviction that all workers -- regardless of their immigration status -- must be free to exercise their rights and challenge employer abuses", because if that were true, there wouldn't be a slave class in this country.

Every part of my Heritage was abused when they entered the country. The difference today is that the government, lobbyists and the corporations have made all facets of immigration an open faucet, with no throttle. It seems that even if the people already here got human rights, were able to be in a union and have a pathway to citizenship that that faucet would still be jammed open, letting in the next wave.

It's a continuous flow of worker suppression, and we the tax payers are subsidizing the the employers responsibilities.

The conservatives scream 'socialism', the last 30 years, especially the last 7.5 have honed this into a science, keep allowing the undocumented workers in, let the citizen workers pay for the things that the employers of these workers are supposed to pay for, and make sure that the undocumented workers will live in a state of fear. This to me is a corporatist socialism that is not acceptable. The divisiveness of their methods is insidious, you actually have rabid "McCain" supporters who scream that their opposing view is socialism, while they are living in a semi-socialist society where only a few are benefiting.

Add in a whole lot of anti-union policies, absence of working rights for undocumented's , an abused Visa system and a new army of ICE storm troopers to get sent into service if the slaves get out of line, and we are heading into a really bad place.

Fear is their weapon and if we do not overcome their campaign against the people who work in this country, bad days are coming.

An undocumented class of workers is unacceptable in our country. Having citizens and non-citizens competing for work is insanity. This is undermining all of our hard fought labor laws and rights, this is hurting all of us and you dare complain of socialism.

If big business and their conspirators had their way, we would all be making $2 an hour, fighting for a crumb of bread and terrified to raise any concern for our safety. Many idiots write that "unions are a thing of the past, we don't need them anymore, we now have federal labor laws that take care of us", that sounds good, until your boss tells you "I can get 15 illegals here to do your job" and even if he doesn't get the job done right, even if a portion of them get hurt or killed, he can still scoop up more to finish it the next day. So you work harder to make him more money, to keep him competitive, or you just get so disenfranchised that you refuse to care, you are beaten to straying away from the conversation, you take your lumps in solitude, you become fractured and the entire labor movement becomes a confused fragmented mess, with all sides fighting against the middle, and when the heart of a leader dies and he/she steps in line or even worse becomes on the take, the conspirators are lined up to spread the word of their infractions, to belittle and dishonor the movement. Like vultures they swarm, to get the masses to avoid unionization. They get workers to chew off their leg against their own interest.

It's your world, let's really think and talk about this more. The closure of the faucet and the liberation of the workers in America should be our first concern in the next Presidency.

The pro-worker movement should be there also

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