September 22, 2011
Queens, NY –Queens Center Mall shoppers joined with clergy and labor today to deliver 5,500 signed petitions to Queens Center Mall owner, the Macerich Company, demanding that, In exchange for the more than $100 million in tax breaks Macerich receives, they give back to the community by requiring retailers to pay a living wage with benefits, respect workers' rights to organize a union without threat or intimidation, and provide space for community services.
On the way into corporate offices to deliver the 5,500 petitions, Father Darrell Da Costa, Pastor, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Corona declared, “There is a deep history in our faith traditions of supporting the rights of all workers and today we call on the Macerich Company, the Queens Center Mall owner, to be a better neighbor by giving back to the community and helping us rebuild the Queens middle class.”
Pastor Andy Fetters of Grace Overflows Lutheran, outlined the coalition’s demands, “Our vision is that everyone working in the Mall gets paid a living wage of at least $10 an hour with benefits, and that mall employers respect the right to organize a union without threat or intimidation. And that the Queens Center Mall should provide community space where programs and services aimed at youth and their families can be offered, for things like job training, job placement, after school programs, homework help, and English classes for immigrants.“
Both pastors are active members of Queens Congregations United for Action.
Make the Road New York (MRNY) members also participated in today’s action. “I shop regularly at the Queens Center Mall and I’m very concerned about the situation at the mall,” said Isabel Encalada, member of MRNY. “The owners of the mall receive tens of millions of dollars in subsidies from our tax dollars and what does the community receive in return? Nothing. The mall has a lot of space and the community has a lot of needs. The owners of the Queens Center Mall should make space available for things like English classes and job training.”
I know many people who work at the mall. They talk about a lot of job-related problems – that they barely make the minimum wage or that they only work part-time. This creates a lot of financial stress for them because it’s not possible to live on such a low salary here in Queens, much less support a family,” added Vicente de la Torre, member of MRNY.
"The RWDSU is committed to improving the lives of retail workers at the Queens Center Mall and throughout the city. This is a campaign focused on a mall in Queens but we are also engaged in the city wide campaign to bring a living wage to all those who work in city subsidized developments. The RWDSU will not rest until all retail workers are earning a living wage.” said Jeff Eichler, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU organizer.
The Hunt for Good Jobs
June 24, 2011
The Queens Center Mall Campaign recently participated in a lively press conference outside the mall to demand that the mall provide good jobs to the community. The event was one of five statewide actions coordinated by the Getting Our Money's Worth coalition, which calls on state leaders to put forth a comprehensive jobs plan and ensure that economic development results in the creation of good jobs.
Dubbed "the hunt for the missing jobs plan," the event featured a Sherlock Holmes theme, with participants waving giant magnifying glasses and chanting "Where is the jobs plan?" and "You got bailed out! We got sold out!"
"The Queens Center Mall receives public subsidies even though it is one of the most profitable malls in the country," said Julissa Bisono, an organizer with Make the Road NY. "Instead of giving back to the community, they provide mostly poverty-wage jobs that don't pay well enough to live in Elmhurst."
Macerich, the owner of the Queens Center Mall, is receiving $100 million in taxpayer money. In return, the Queens Center Mall Campaign is asking that the mall require retailers to provide living wage jobs with benefits, ensure that workers have the right to organize free from threat and intimidation, and provide sufficient community space for services such as ESL classes and job search services.
Rodney Bullock, a Queens resident, retail worker and member of the Retail Action Project stated, "As a retail worker, I know the difference it makes to earn a living wage and have a voice on the job. The Queens Center Mall should not be allowed to treat people so poorly and keep their big tax breaks."
The event was co-sponsored by Make the Road NY, Queens Congregations United for Action, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Retail Action Project (RAP), and The Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN).
The Getting Our Money's Worth Coalition is a broad coalition of public policy experts, government watchdogs, labor unions, community and religious organizations, and concerned small business owners, workers and taxpayers. The statewide coalition is anchored by ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York and the Coalition for Economic Justice.
Video of the Town Hall Meeting!
May 31, 2011