Domino’s workers protest low wages, get locked out

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Renee Lewis / Al Jazeera America / Dec. 10, 2013

Two dozen employees at a New York City Domino’s chain have been locked out for refusing to work for what they say is less than minimum wage, and they said they will protest every day until they are re-hired.

Fast-food workers in at least 100 cities across the U.S. went on strike on Dec. 5 to demand higher wages.

Almost all the workers at the Washington Heights Domino’s store walked out for the Dec. 5 strike, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), a coalition of low wage workers, said.

On Saturday, 24 employees walked off the job, refusing to work until they were paid what they say is the legal minimum wage. Since then, Domino’s management has refused to let them return.

An emergency press release by NYCC said Domino’s delivery workers make $5.65 per hour, less than New York’s regular minimum wage, but 65 cents more than New York’s minimum wage for workers who also receive tips.

The workers, however, were reportedly asked to do non-tipped work, like clean the floors and run the cash register, for the same low wage. When they spoke out about it to management, they were let go.

“We are hard workers. We want to work. But, we can no longer accept making less than minimum wage — it hurts our families, and our neighborhood, when men and women can’t afford rent or the subway,” the NYCC press release said.

Locked-out employee Jose Sanchez said in a statement, “Wage theft like this happens all the time to fast-food workers in NYC — 84 percent of NYC fast-food workers had their wages illegally stolen over the last year.”

The workers said they will protest outside the store until Domino’s gives them their jobs back and respects the law and their rights.

A Domino’s representative told Al Jazeera in an email that the store is run by an independent business owner, and “can’t confirm any of the allegations made by the individuals involved, other than to say that’s all they are at this point: allegations.”

The store’s supervisor, Jesus Arriaga, would not confirm or deny the allegations, simply saying, “We didn’t do anything illegal.”

The 24 workers gained the support of New York lawmakers — New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez and New York State Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, who joined the protests Sunday.

“They were penalized and fired because they were part of the national protests on Thursday,” Rosa told Al Jazeera.

“We are asking the store to re-hire these workers.”

Rodriguez tweeted on Sunday, “After nationwide walk out on Thurs, dominoes on 181st fired those who stood up for themselves and their families.”

The workers had raised the issue of higher wages before, and had protested on multiple occasions this year with other fast-food workers.

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