Looks like it’s a bad day for the owners of Walnut Street’s Fat Salmon Sushi. Workers there have chosen May Day as a good day to announce a strike, alleging “wage theft.”
Apparently not all of the employees are taking part in the strike, since Fat Salmon is open right now. The young woman who answered the phone said that Fat Salmon is open for business as usual and that there wasn’t anyone in management available to speak about the strike. I asked her if she was going to be striking. “Of course not,” she said, laughing.
“This strike is not in the traditional mold you would imagine,” explains Fabricio Rodriguez of the Restaurant Opportunities Center. “Not enough people walked off to shut the business down. But we had three workers go on strike due to unjust business practices. You have the protective right to inquire about your wages and working conditions. If there are any consequences for doing that, you can go on strike. They noticed that they weren’t getting their full tips, and one employee, Jeff, inquired about how much he made in tips. The owner scolded the staff and cut Jeff’s shifts. They’re not trying to disrupt business. They just want to fix the situation.”
The full announcement that Rodriguez just sent out:
MEDIA EVENT: Workers to read and deliver the public statement to Fat Salmon.
WHERE: N.W. Corner of Washington Square
WHEN: May 1, 2013, 2:15 (SHARP!)-2:40
WORKERS AT “PHILADELPHIA’S BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT” WENT ON STRIKE & DEMANDED JUSTICE IN THEIR WORKPLACE
On May Day, International Workers’ Day, restaurant workers at Fat Salmon Sushi announced their campaign for justice at work, demanding an end to all violations of their legal rights and implementation of fair workplace policies.
PHILADELPHIA— Today three restaurant workers at Fat Salmon Sushi, rated best sushi in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine, publicly announced their campaign for justice and dignity at work. Fat Salmon Owner, Jack Woo, was notified by some of his workers in a written statement documenting the legal violations at their workplace and their demands.
On April 15, three Fat Salmon servers informed their employer that they would be going on strike, effective immediately, due to ongoing wage theft at the restaurant and other legal violations.
Since then, four of their co-workers have joined them in demanding fair workplace conditions. Their demands include ending all illegal practices, such as discriminatory hiring & firing policies and wage theft.
The worker committee statement also includes proactive policies such as promoting from with-in the workforce, compensation for travel to and from work during weather emergencies, and paid sick days.
One of the primary issues the workers are fighting to resolve is an end to wage theft through the withholding of earned tips pursuant to the passage of a series of tests.
“I have been working as a server at Fat Salmon for two years and I have never received the entire amount of my tips.” said Jeff Spencer, a Fat Salmon.
“All servers are subject to tests on a monthly basis and in order to receive 100% of our tips, we must pass four tests. I passed them all and still didn’t receive my full wage. I was then subject to verbal quizzes at my boss’ whim” said Jeff S.
The workers chose not to simply quit because they wanted to make Fat Salmon a better place to work. “We don’t want to ruin the business. We just want it to be a fair business.” Stated Claire T., Fat Salmon server for one year.
“We work hard and deserve to be paid what we are owed and treated with respect. I’m confident we can reach a resolution that is recognizes the dignity of workers and is good for business” further stated Diana A., Fat Salmon server of one year.
Some of the workers will finish up the day by attending the May Day picnic at Elmwood Park in South West Philadelphia.
Fabricio Rodriguez, Lead Coordinator
Restaurant Opportunities Center- Philadelphia