New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech appeared before the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) on Tuesday to report harsh, anti-union tactics – including unjust firings – by Deep Foods, a large Union County-based Indian foods maker that EDA previously granted up to $27 million in taxpayer-funded, job-creation subsidies.
“Why would New Jersey spend millions of dollars in public taxpayers’ money to help a company that does not respect its employees,” President Wowkanech asked the EDA, after learning of the tax incentive program approved for Deep Foods. “Since being approved for up to $26.9 million from the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, Deep Foods has betrayed the community’s trust by engaging in textbook anti-union, anti-worker tactics. New Jersey taxpayers should not subsidize such irresponsible behavior.”
Deep Foods began an anti-union campaign as soon as workers began the effort to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 262. Management promised promotions to discourage workers to support the union; workers were interrogated, threatened with reprisals and retaliated against through work assignments; and the leading union organizers were fired.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision last week that Deep Foods illegally terminated the workers for leading a drive to join RWDSU. The NLRB is ordering the company to restore the workers to their previous positions and community leaders are urging them to accept the decision.
While most of Deep Foods’ 239 employees, including 49 warehouse workers, expressed an interest in forming a union, the family owned company has resolved to fight the organizing drive every step of the way. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO stands with these workers, who have the right to a voice on the job. We also believe that New Jersey tax dollars should not be spent to incentivize a company that has refused to play by the rules and treat its employees with the dignity and respect they deserve.