On Friday evening, demonstrations erupted once again at the site of Bröd Kitchen, an eatery across from Tisch Hall on West Fourth Street, as dozens of union members, students and labor activists gathered to protest the restaurant owner’s perceived mistreatment
CAS junior Drew Weber says he has been following the conflict at Bröd Kitchen from
“The owners are threatening to fire all the workers and shut down the establishment,”
The establishment had shut its doors for good the night before the protest. Protesters found the restaurant dark, empty and
According to Mahoma López, president of the Hot and Crusty Workers Association, the previous owners of the franchise had shut down the 63rd Street branch of the restaurant (then called Hot and Crusty) for 55 days in an effort to prevent workers there from unionizing. López believes the owners of Bröd Kitchen on West Fourth Street may be using the
“They [the owners] are immigrants like us,” López said. “They came to this country to invest, but they do not respect the basic rights of the workers. It’s disgusting.”
The middle-aged former employee claims he was fired last month after attempting to unionize the workers at the NYU site.
Large banners that were taped to the windows of the restaurant on Friday accused López of forcing the establishment to shut down by spreading lies and inciting disorder. Dozens of flyers were also taped to the doors with a boldfaced message pleading to “stop this union from stealing our jobs.” The flyers bore the signatures of the restaurant’s employees and were ostensibly written in their voice.
Greg Guy, a 23-year-old employee from Washington Heights said he and many of his fellows coworkers were never interested in joining the union.
“They [union members] were blackmailing us that if the store on 63rd Street closes, then the union there would remove us and replace us with its members,” Greg said.
Owner Monette de Botton also insists the narrative espoused by López is categorically untrue.
“I’m a very good employer and I took pride in it. You can even go talk to my staff,” De Botton said. “I’m not anti-union. I have no
reason to be.”
Around 4:20 p.m., three unidentified activists wearing animal masks broke into the restaurant and tore down the banners, setting off an alarm. Protestors began trickling in shortly afterwards with the protests reaching full momentum around 6 p.m. Apart from union members and pro-labor activists, a significant portion of the turnout were NYU students, such as CAS junior
“I know I’m very privileged to go to one of the most expensive universities in the world,” Chang said. “I think it is really an injustice that all these people have much worse lives than us… that they just want to have something closer to what we have and are being completely suppressed for it.”
A version of this story appeared in the Feb. 22 print edition. Email Alexander Kario at [email protected]