RECIPE FOR CHANGE

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Tired of long work days, low pay, and no compensation for overtime, workers at Handyfat and EZ Supply, Inc., providers of Chinese restaurant equipment and food items, are pushing toward unionization. The companies’ drivers, warehouse workers and loaders transport supplies such as cookware and kitchen food amenities throughout the city. “In both shops, there are 60-hour work weeks, six days a week,” said Bill Randel, an organizer with Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the union hoping to represent the workers. If they choose to join, he said, “these will be the first shops to go union in this industry.” In 2005, a complaint by the IWW to the Department of Labor alleged minimum wage violations at Handyfat, a charge disputed by the company’s owner, Dennis Ho. Its 14 workers are now receiving the legal minimum wage because of the union’s scrutiny, according to Randel. At EZ Supply, which has about 20 employees, Jorge Orea, a delivery driver, said workers are fed up with the lack of overtime pay and strict disciplinary measures. “If you arrive just a few minutes late, they dock your pay,” said Orea, though he’s noticed some improvement since the organizing campaign began. A representative of EZ Supply who identified himself as “Joe” said the company has received “no complaints from employees” and that it pays minimum wage. Handyfat employees are scheduled to hold a union election January 17. EZ Supply workers will hold a demonstration to demand union representation on January 16. (B. Baumer)