Volume 19 • Issue 9 | July 14- - 20, 2006

Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel

Union workers from the New York Stock Exchange’s cafeteria marched up Broadway Wednesday.

Big Board’s cafeteria workers march on the exchange

By David Spett

New York Stock Exchange cafeteria workers staged a protest on July 12 in front of Bowling Green’s Charging Bull.

The workers, represented by UNITE HERE, a hotel and food service workers’ union, were protesting the labor practices of Lackmann Culinary Services, the Long Island-based company that runs NYSE’s cafeteria.

Between 75 and 100 people attended the march and rally, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Martin Connor.

“There’s something wrong with society when the people who make sure [the rich] are well fed are the people who can’t get just pay,” Stringer shouted into a microphone at the rally. “Lackmann should get out of town.”

Most of the workers were Hispanic and chanted “¡Sí, se puede!” (yes, we can) and “¿Qué queremos? justicia; ¿cuándo? ahora” (What do we want? justice; when do we want it? now), the protesters marched around the block while dozens of police officers on motorcycles monitored closely.

The workers have been without a contract since December and have two specific demands. They want Lackmann not to cut pay for new workers, and they want advance notice when Lackmann intends to issue layoffs, said Matt Furshong, a research analyst for UNITE HERE Local 100.

Dena Neri, 32, a cook at NYSE for nearly four years, said Lackmann fails to pay her health insurance company almost every month, causing the insurance company to cut off benefits until the bill is paid. Neri said she makes $21,000 a year.

“Management has lied to my face,” she said. “The salary I’m getting is not cutting it.”

The average NYSE cafeteria worker’s wage is less than $11 per hour, and one worker makes only $9.45 after 18 years on the job, Furshong said.

Jo Keim, a spokesperson for Lackmann, said she was not authorized to comment on the protest. She said only that contract negotiations are ongoing and that the next scheduled negotiation would be held July 13.

“We have a long record of working very well with employee groups,” Keim said.

But Furshong disagreed and said the union has had trouble with Lackmann’s treatment of its cafeteria workers at other Downtown sites including Pace University, U.S. Trust wealth management and Guardian Life Insurance. UNITE HERE has gone so far as to set up an anti-Lackmann Web site, www.lackmanntracker.org.

“Right now, we have more problems with Lackmann than with anybody else,” Furshong said, adding that the union is not considering a strike at this time.

Bill Granfield, president of UNITE HERE Local 100, said the protest went well and expressed optimism about negotiations.

“We know we’re going to win,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when.”

A spokesperson for NYSE said the stock exchange had no comment.


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