Workers at Fat Salmon Sushi Go On Strike

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


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

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  • no

    Good news – three new job openings at Fat Salmon! If you need a job, head over there ASAP!

  • Eli and Elliot

    Is this place now run by the famous Farmer’s Cabinet family of bars and restaurants?

  • One who knows the truth

    Jeff had the most lucrative shifts as a waiter taken away from him for lateness followed by an unexplained absence that left his coworkers struggling to take care of customers on their own. Too bad he failed to mention this, or Jack’s generosity at not firing him for this behavior. Looks like this non-profit is trying to make lemonade out of Jeff’s lemons, and bring attention to themselves.

    Shame on them.

    • Cause

      One who knows the truth You are saying that because Jeff allegedly was late and allegedly missed a day ,his wages should be stolen?

      Looks like you have not an clue how lemons nor the law works.


        Should Jeff be receiving pooled tips for tables served when he is not there… no

        • jamaicanmecrazy

          what about the tips that were allegedly taken from every server every shift they worked? i’m assuming this policy wasn’t a punishment, but the norm. but maybe you know these people? anyways.. i’ve waited tables for a while and if my boss was taking my tips on the reg, i hope my coworkers and i would do something about it. i think what these folks are doing is awesome and hopefully deters other employers from trying to pull shit like this.

      • Thats not what they are saying

        They are saying this is why his shifts were taken away.

    • Been There

      If that is true “one who knows the truth” It needs to come to light. I have been on both sides of this issue and it seems as though the side in this industry that tends to extend themselves usually gets screwed.

      • JA

        Really? “struggling to take care of customers on their own.”? I realize and appreciate that employees should be treated fairly and with respect…but if you have an issue like this and you stay with the company for two years….well….if you look on craigslist you could have your pick of server jobs at places that are probably a lot more lucrative.

        • Exactly. My interview at Fat Salmon would go like this:

          “You only receive all of your tips if you pass multiple monthly tests.”

          “Thanks for playing, I think I’ll go find another job elsewhere at company that doesn’t find my earn dollars to be something they can change at their judgement.”

    • disappointed

      Shame on YOU. I’m sure you have your pick of whatever “lucrative shifts” you like now that three long time workers are gone. Maybe you’re even receiving all of your tips as a result of good behavior! Ten points for you!

  • C

    I must admit, wage theft is common among restaurants that pay their employees tips in a paycheck. I would sue.

  • Dan

    The shame of it is that servers are a dime a dozen. If the sushi chefs all left, that would be a different story. Unless and until the government enforces minimun labor standards, employers will continuously exploit service workers. In turn, service workers will continue to be unreliable and untrustworthy.

    • patrick callahan

      Dan, we can all do our part to stop employers from exploiting workers by holding them accountable and not supporting their businesses. We should care as much, or more, about how employees are treated than how our food is treated.

  • Edilberto Durano

    EdiI hope things will work out fine for all.
    Ed of

  • fred

    aren’t there laws against this?

  • fred

    If their TIPS were being skimmed then call the Dept of labor to investigate. If Jeff’s shifts were cut due to poor performance that’s one thing but skimming TIPS is illegal I believe.