[act-ma] 2/23 picket co-op board for labor rights (Sat)

Matthew Andrews peopleunite at verizon.net
Tue Feb 19 10:44:08 PST 2008


Deon Furtick was arbitrarily fired from the Harvest Co-op after he  
began talking to co-workers about organizing a union, and complained  
to management about racism.  We have spoken out at a meeting of the  
Harvest Board of Directors, we have made phone calls to management  
and now we are flyering outside the Harvest's two locations in  
Cambridge and Jamaica Plain.  So far our "community co-op" has given  
us the cold shoulder.  Join us this Saturday to picket the board of  
directors and management as they meet to plan their long term vision  
for the co-op.  Let's remind them that worker's rights and  
accountability to the membership are essential to our co-op!

When: Saturday, February 23rd, 8:00am to 4:00pm
(please let us know if you can come from 8am - noon, or noon - 4pm)

Where: Paulist Center, 5 Park Street, across from the Park Street T Stop


press release below:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2008

CONTACT:
Matthew Andrews
IWW Organizer
cell: 617-633-1857
email: peopleunite at verizon.net
web: www.harvestmembers.info

This Saturday, February 23rd, fired worker Deon Furtick will be  
protesting to get his job back along with concerned Harvest Co-op  
members, and supporters from the Industrial Workers of the World.   
The picket will be outside a meeting of the Harvest Co-op's board of  
directors, at the Paulist Center, 5 Park Street, from 8:00am to  
4:00pm.  Harvest board members are having a day long "retreat" to  
develop "long term objectives and hopes for the board's work and  
Harvest" (http://www.harvest.coop/board/agenda01_08.pdf).

Three weeks ago, eight community members went to the Harvest's board  
of directors to express concern over the termination of Deon  
Furtick.  Two supporters of Deon, a co-worker and long time co-op  
member, spoke on his behalf during a five minute public comment  
period.  The group asked the board of directors for Deon to be  
reinstated with back pay, that management use progressive discipline  
before firing employees, and that the right to organize be  
respected.  Since then community members have passed out hundreds of  
flyers outside the co-op's two locations in Cambridge and Jamaica  
Plain, and dozens of phone calls have been made to management on  
Deon's behalf.  Yet so far the Harvest has refused to discuss the issue.

Deon Furtick, 31, of Roxbury, and a father of three, had worked in  
the deli at the Jamaica Plain store, 57 South St., for four years.   
He was fired for not punching out on the store time-clock for his  
meal break on Tuesday, January 8th.  Deon had never punched out for  
his meal breaks, and did not realize not doing so was putting his  
employment in jeopardy.  In fact, Marc Cutler, Manager of Operations,  
used to be the store manager in Jamaica Plain and personally signed  
off on Deon’s hours every week.  The policy of not paying for meal  
breaks was not consistently enforced, and depended largely on which  
department the employee worked.  Other employees in this situation  
are simply spoken to by a supervisor, or given a written warning.   
Deon was terminated without warning.

Deon Furtick had been talking with co-workers about organizing a  
union with the Industrial Workers of the World, IU 460.  In late  
October, Deon, and three other employees approached Marc Cutler about  
Deon not being given an interview for promotion to deli supervisor.   
Marc Cutler refused to discuss the situation, and did not return  
subsequent phone calls by Deon to set up a meeting.  In December,  
Deon complained about racism in the workplace, and requested a  
meeting with Sandra Andrew of Human Resources.  Deon was told he  
would have to visit the Cambridge offices on his own time.  As a  
father working two jobs, Deon could not promptly make the time to  
pursue his complaint.  Then Sandra Andrew went on vacation.  A month  
after Deon had complained about racism, and two months after engaging  
in legally protected collective activity,  Deon, an employee of over  
four years, was fired on the shaky pretext of misrepresenting hours  
worked.

The picket this Saturday will ask that Deon be returned to his job,  
that fair and legal disciplinary policies are followed, and that the  
board be accountable to the concerns of co-op members.  The IWW is  
continuing to ask community members and friends of labor to call Marc  
Cutler, Manager of Operations, at his office number 617-661-1580 to  
demand that Deon be reinstated with back pay for loss of wages.

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