Workers From All Corners of the World Tell Tnuva to Honor the Rights of its Distribution Workers
New York, NY– Workers around the world participated in actions today to call on Tnuva, the world’s largest kosher cheese company, to honor the human rights of its distribution workers. The mulitinational kosher cheese giant distributes its cheese in New York City though the Flaum Appetizing Corp., a business widely shunned for unlawful labor practices and abuse of immigrant workers from Latin America. While a consensus has largely emerged against Flaum’s labor practices, Tnuva continues to due business with Flaum.
“Flaum Appetizing exploited its immigrant workers for years,” said Ari Hart, a founder of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization. “Tnuva should use its influence to get Flaum to pay its workers or, if Flaum won’t, to choose a company that is yosher (ethical).”
In a Global Day of Action to pressure Tnuva management to bring justice to Flaum Appetizing., workers held nonviolent rallies, leafleted outside supermarkets, sent petitions to Tnuva and made phone calls to its president and CEO. As Flaum workers step up their actions to win accountability from Tnuva, workers and community supporters around the world peacefully demonstrated in solidarity. Because Tnuva’s cheese products are a significant source of revenue for Flaum, the actions called on Tnuva to either use its influence with Flaum to promote respect for workplace protections or to find a more ethical distribution company.
Flaum Appetizing is a highly profitable kosher food processor and distributor in Brooklyn that has engaged in systematic exploitation of immigrant workers from Latin America. The company pushed its Latino employees to work at unsafe speeds, with 60-80 hour work weeks, while denying them overtime pay. When workers stood up for their rights, Flaum illegally fired seventeen of them in retaliation. A National Labor Relations Board judge found that Flaum engaged in extensive and unlawful retaliation, but the company has refused for almost three years to comply with the court order to pay its worker $260,000 in back wages.
With Focus on the Food Chain, the Flaum workers are leading a powerful campaign that has resulted in more than 65 of New York’s most popular supermarket locations to stop selling Flaum products until Flaum is held accountable. Meanwhile, Tnuva continues refuses to use its substantial influence with Flaum to encourage a just settlement for the fired workers. The Global Day of Action was organized by Focus on the Food Chain and Uri L’Tzedek.
“As both a student activist and an Orthodox Jew, it is crucial for me to be involved in this action,” said Dasi Fruchter. “Myself and my peers will simply not stand up for the injustices taking place at Flaum.”
Focus on the Food Chain promotes a sustainable food system that incorporates respect for workers’ human rights. Through worker-led organizing, direct action, and litigation, the Focus campaign is challenging and overcoming sweatshop conditions in New York’s food processing and distribution warehouses. The Focus campaign is a joint effort of non-profit organization Brandworkers and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World labor union.
Uri L’Tzedek is an Orthodox social justice organization guided by Torah values and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression. Through community based education, leadership development and action, Uri L’Tzedek creates discourse, inspires leaders, and empowers the Jewish community toward creating a more just world.
Actions took place in: Canada, Germany, Kansas City, L.A., NJ, NW Arkansas, NYC, Poland, Twin Cities, and the U.K.