Cornfeld Tenants Association (CTA) works to improve housing conditions for residents in properties owned by Arthur Cornfeld and Alan Fisher in New York City (aka ABC Properties, ABC Realty, and many other LLCs). Our concerns are both in terms of tenants’ rights and our right for security and equity. Goal? To ensure our voices are heard and to stop our landlord from further endangering our safety and our lives.
Tsu Yue Wang Tax Evasion: Has Visa from China + Cheats U.S. Taxes!!
Ollies, formerly at 67th Street before it burnt down
December 10, 2007, 3:52am
After months of employee protests against Ollie’s restaurant, labor notices detailing wage procedures have appeared on the wall of the 116th Street branch of the eatery. But activists say management is still violating the policies it touts.
Employees brought a lawsuit against the city-wide Chinese food chain and its owner, Tsu Yue Wang, last March, alleging that they are paid under two dollars an hour and forced to work for more than 12 hours per day. The suit is still pending.
The labor notices at the 116th Street location detail procedures for clocking in and out, break times, schedules, and wages. One sheet reads, “This is to confirm that wages paid to all employees shall be considered increased because of meals provided by the Company as follows: $2.10 per meal for all servers and busboys, $2.45 per meal for all other employees. Since 2 meals are available to all employees who work in excess of 5 hours in a day, a credit for 2 meals will be taken for each day.”
Below this, another sign reads that tipped employees’ wages can legally have their pay reduced by $2.55 per hour. The New York State minimum wage is $7.15 per hour. For servers making minimum wage, after tip reductions are calculated, the minimum they may legally be paid comes out to $4.60 per hour, minus the daily meal deductions.
Yet workers claim that Ollie’s labor policies are far from legal. Jerry Weng, a former Ollie’s employee and one of the lead organizers in the workers’ campaign against Wang, claims that the company did not report the correct number of hours on time cards in order to evade taxes.
Josephine Lee, who is the coordinator for the Justice Will Be Served! Campaign to unite workers against labor violations in New York city, said that workers’ paychecks at Ollie’s would say that they worked 40 hours in a week, while they were actually putting in 60-70 hours per week. This means that the restaurant avoids paying taxes on nearly half their labor, and that employees lose government benefits. “They don’t even cheat on the workers, they cheat on the government,” Weng said.
Managers at the 116th Street Ollie’s declined to comment on this story. Representatives of the restaurant have previously denied the allegations in the lawsuits.
The abuses that Ollie’s has been accused of led workers at the 44th Street location to organize last March, leading Wang to close the restaurant. Workers like Chaicee Wan, who worked at the 44th Street location for four years, lost their jobs and remain unemployed. “The owner lied to us that the lease was ending—but he was closing,” Weng said, who also worked at the 44th Street location.
Former Ollie’s workers find it difficult to find new jobs since other restaurant owners know that they organized against Wang, and many feel that their rights have been violated. “If there is no basic rights, where is the justice?” Weng asked.
Since more than 40 Ollie’s workers from all locations brought the lawsuit, Wang has allegedly continued to pay workers under two dollars per hour. “For him, he’d rather continue to exploit workers than to make amends,” said Lee. “The owner continues to retaliate against the workers,” she added.
Many former Ollie’s workers have called for a boycott of Ollie’s and other restaurants that have had similar labor problems, such as Saigon Grill and Flor de Mayo. Workers rallied in front of the 116th Street location and Columbia’s gates Sunday, calling for patrons to boycott. Their demands include stopping the discrimination against workers, as well as paying back “stolen wages.”
“We are calling on the community. We are really hoping that Columbia students will support us,” Weng said.
Juan and Isabel Martinez, residents of the neighborhood, took a flyer, but were skeptical about the boycott. When asked if they would eat at Ollie’s again, they said, “We don’t know yet. Probably not.”
Susi Schropp was more sympathetic. “The IRS should get involved,” she said. “It is not right to treat people like that.”
PLEASE HELP US KEEP THIS CRIMINAL FROM RENTING THE SPACE FORMERLY KNOWN AS TANI @2020 BROADWAY!!