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Jun 22, 2011
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5,500 Shoppers Tell Queens Center Mall Owner: ‘Give Back To The Community’

September 22, 2011

Community, Clergy, Labor Coalition Deliver 5,500 Petitions Demanding Mall Become a Community Asset: Pay Workers Living Wage, Provide Community Space, and Respect Right to Unionize

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.