NEW YORK - Domino's Pizza has told its workers what they can expect when they exercise their right to demand a living wage. The pizza chain has locked them out in the cold.
Locked out by management for the fourth consecutive day 25 Domino's Pizza employees are walking a picket line with diverse community support at their side. Dozens of neighbors including members of the labor and faith communities, stood with councilman Ydanis Rodigrez and assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa in the freezing cold, demanding the chain store reinstate the workers.
Bairon Solorzano, one of the Domino's 25, married the mother of his adorable 3 1/2 year old daughter this past Monday, the second day of the lock out. He has been working on and off at that Domino's location for the past three years.
Looking back Solorzano explained, "In 2010 when I started working for Domino's, pay was $5.65 an hour. It has not been raised a cent since then. If you don't believe me go apply for the deliveryman job." The surrounding community listened in astonishment. "When we speak up about wage theft and respect on the job, our supervisor tells us the door is there. If we have a problem or complaint, we can leave."
Tipped employees like Solorzano are legally allowed to receive as little as $5-per-hour, meaning Domino's was not technically breaking the law for the past three years as it paid $5.65 an hour to Solorzano and the other deliverymen. Nor did the company break the law in charging a delivery fee easily confused by customers as a tip but collected by management. It's clear that Domino's doesn't need to break the law to maintain its profit margins in the millions of dollars and its workforce in a state of poverty.
Fast food workers across the country are standing up to the billion dollar industry, demanding $15 and a union. The demand was born in New York City but somehow franchises in Washington Heights have largely avoided the movement.
The Domino's 25 were inspired by Fast-Food Forward and the national strikes it has led over the past year. They were inspired to take action by the McDonalds workers down the hill on the corner of Broadway.
That store made the news one hot day this past summer when the store's kitchen air conditioner was out and the workers request for management to resolve the situation went ignored. The McDonalds workers were fresh off a one-day strike and defiantly walked out. With support from labor, faith, community and local politicians on high, each and every worker was brought back to work with cool air blowing.
On Dec. 5 Domino's employees and the militant McDonalds workers both went on strike, joining the national action. Those who participated in the Dec. 5 national strikest have been facing retaliation from management ever since.
"We were not allowed to go out on deliveries but asked to mop the floors and do odd jobs around the office, where there was no chance of us receiving tips. We were asked to do this for our same wage ($5.65). We walked out in protest and have not been let back into work since then," said José Rudi Pérez Torres, another locked out employee.
Community board 12 chair, George Fernandez, called on community members to "not spend your money where our neighbors are mistreated. No Domino's until they put the 25 locked out employees back to work." the crowed cheered him on and quickly synthesized the statement to "No Justice No Pizza."
Photo: Estevan Bassett-Nembhard/PW