More than 35 Key Food employees are being locked out after their union failed to reach a deal with the supermarket chain.
Meat department workers at seven New York Key Food supermarkets — four of them in Brooklyn, and three on Long Island — have worked for more than five years without a contract. The lockout, which began April 8, comes after a failed organized strike on April 6 by members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342. Further negotiations were scheduled for Monday.
A representative for Pick Quick Foods, which owns and operates the seven Key Food locations, could not be reached for comment.
“It’s a crazy situation,” says Kelly Egan, executive director of UFCW Local 342. "We need to get these people back to work."
Many of the employees locked out of their jobs have worked at Key Food for decades, including Bushwick resident Bonnie Mingo who has been a union member for 30 years.
“We’re fed up,” Mingo said against the backdrop of chanting pickets passing out flyers at the McGuinness Avenue Key Food on Friday.
Mingo’s mother died this month, and instead of being on bereavement leave she stood outside the Key Food where she has wrapped meat for the past two decades, advocating for her and her colleagues’ rights. The past five years and seven months without a contract have been tough, she said, but she’s continued to report to work because she cares about her job and the neighborhood customers.
Since taking the job at Key Food, Mingo said her hours have been cut back and she has not received what she deems to be adequate pay raises. And now, threats to workers’ health care plans and retirement benefits compromise a future she’s worked hard for.
“We work hard to live and it’s not fair,” Mingo says. "I just want everyone to come to an agreement. I just want to get back to work because I love what I do and I’m good at it. I back my union and I need my job.”
A rally is scheduled for Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. outside the Park Slope Key Food on Fifth Avenue.