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    Best Market Worker Stories

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November 8, 2018

Workers petition for Best Market to do better

This story originally appeared in The Long Island Advance October 23, 2018

By Nicole Fuentes

Higher wages, better access to healthcare and safety training are just a few of the reasons Best Market workers across Long Island have been signing a petition with the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, sparking a Do Better Best Market movement for a better quality of life.

Best Market, located at 655 Montauk Highway in East Patchogue, opened about six years ago. Now, a total of 29 stores with about 2,500 workers in three states exist, with the majority on Long Island. About a year ago, workers began getting together searching for ways to improve their lives, and forming the movement that has been building for better wages, affordable healthcare and safety training. Since starting the petition, a number of elected officials have written letters of support, including Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue).

Calarco visited the East Patchogue location last week, on Aug. 16, to show his support. “I am here to let them know they have support in the county government,” he said during his visit. “We were all happy when they opened up here, but they need to treat their employees fairly with better wages and access to healthcare.”

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November 8, 2018

F.S. Best Market workers want change

This story originally appeared in LIHerald.com October 31, 2018

By Ronny Reyes

Marian Meszaros said that she cannot forget what happened five years ago inside the Franklin Square Best Market grocery store on Dogwood Avenue. Meszaros, an employee in the meat department, remembered feeling unwell as employees approached their manager about a sudden illness afflicting them on the morning of May 30, 2013.

“Anyone who was in the store that morning started feeling nauseous and dizzy,” Meszaros recalled.

Meszaros was soon evacuated from the building by the Fire Department and taken to a hospital, where she and five other employees received treatment in a bariatric oxygen chamber to help treat carbon monoxide poisoning and troubled breathing. Meszaros described it as one of the worst days she had while working at Best Market, and it was the lack of a reaction from her employers that spurred Meszaros to start advocating for her and her coworkers’ safety.

Now, after five years of feeling ignored, Meszaros and deli department worker Angel Padro, 27, filed a formal Notice of Alleged Safety or Health Hazards complaint against Best Market to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Oct. 17.

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October 5, 2018

Ray Warnken

Ray WarnkenMy name is Ray Warnken.

I worked at Best Market in Selden. I started working there in Feb 2017. I began working there in hopes of making a career for myself as so many grocery workers on Long Island have before. I figured that Best Market is a growing company, and I could have a good future with them. I worked there for around a year and a half. Just like so many of my coworkers, I learned that Best Market just doesn’t value their workers like other grocery stores do.

I used to get 40 hours per week. For no apparent reason, management started cutting my hours to as low as 10 hours per week. I was working in the seafood department. I was filling in for the department manager because I was promised bonus pay. I did this for two months and they never gave me the bonus pay they promised.

…I had to sell my possessions so I could buy my six year old daughter a birthday gift.

I won’t ever forget when I had to sell my possessions so I could buy my six year old daughter a birthday gift. I’ll also never forget the time that my dad had a heart attack and went to the hospital. I called my manager to tell him I had to miss work to go to the hospital. My manager threatened to fire me.

I’ve moved on to another grocery store. I’m making a better life for myself. While I was at Best Market though, I was part of the movement to make Best Market a better place to work. We had victories. We were all united and were able to get the company to pay premium pay on holidays for the first time in the company’s history. Our movement has to continue. Long Island can’t afford to have companies like Best Market grow on the backs of their workers. If we let them do that, one day there won’t be good grocery jobs left for people like me. Together though, we can make Best Market meet our Long Island standards.

September 28, 2018

Ariel Rodriguez

Ariel RodriguezMy name is Ariel Rodriguez.

I came from El Salvador with my mother when I was a teenager because she wanted me to have a better life here in America.  I work in the produce department at Huntington Best Market.  I’m listed as full time, but my hours are inconsistent.  Sometimes I get as few as twenty hours per week. I work a second job to make ends meet.

Every day, working in my department is a challenge.  The floor in the back room has holes and cracks in it. There was one dangerous hole in the back that we complained about many times.  It took ten months for Best Market management to get around to fixing it.  I’ve heard about coworkers at other stores who broke bones because of unsafe conditions like these.  Best Market needs to care more about our safety.

The floor in the back room has holes and cracks in it…It took ten months for Best Market management to get around to fixing it.  I’ve heard about coworkers at other stores who broke bones because of unsafe conditions like these.

I am also pressured by management to get a long list of work done every day.  I have always wanted to do a good job, so I used to stay past my scheduled shift to get everything done.   Management would then get upset that I was working for more hours than I was scheduled.  Since I had to get the work done and they didn’t want me to work extra hours, I used to punch out and keep working.  I felt like it was the only way I could work at Best Market and not be in trouble.

My mom’s dream for me is to have a good life in this country.  I’m doing everything I can to reach that dream, but Best Market hasn’t been making it possible for us.  This is why me and my coworkers are getting together.  Together we will change Best Market.

September 21, 2018

Jose Lopez

Jose LopezMy name is Jose Lopez.

I immigrated to this country in early 2017 and have been working at Best Market for most of this time. I am a religious man and a family man. I came here because I wanted to work hard and provide for my family. I have four children. My youngest boy who is five years old was born partially paralyzed from the waist down. We are all living in a small studio apartment on Long Island.

I work over 40 hours per week. My wife has a full time job in the evenings as well. I do love working at Best Market. I care about my customers. I do wish however that with all the hard work and hours I put into the job, that I could get a little more out of it.

I wish I could provide a little bit more space for my disabled son. There is not enough room for his wheelchair in our apartment so he isn’t able to move around on his own.

I have to rely on government healthcare, since I can’t afford Best Market’s plan which would cost me nearly $1000 per month. I wish I could provide a little bit more space for my disabled son. There is not enough room for his wheelchair in our apartment so he isn’t able to move around on his own.

I will continue to work hard for Best Market, and I pray every day that Best Market will improve. I’ve heard that supermarkets on Long Island have provided stable livings to people who are willing to work hard. I am working hard, and I hope to one day have a better life.

September 14, 2018

Victor Alexander

Victor Alexander

Victor Alexander had been working in the deli for two and a half years. He never had any type of safety training. One day in January of 2018 he was working in his department at lunch time. There was a long line of customers and only himself and the assistant manager in his department. While rushing to serve customers, Victor accidentally sliced his finger. He grabbed a first aid kit and put a gauze over the cut.

Victor went to the store manager for help. The manager said that she needed to cover herself so she was going to write him up for not using a safety cutting glove. He hadn’t seen safety gloves in his department in over a year though. Victor showed the manager his hand and asked to go to the hospital before she filled out an accident report. She asked that he not show her his hand again as it was making her feel faint. She then filled out the report.

Victor asked for a ride to the hospital. The store manager said that they were too short staffed for somebody to drive him.

Victor's Hand Injury

Victor’s Hand Injury

Victor asked for a ride to the hospital. The store manager said that they were too short staffed for somebody to drive him. He began walking to the hospital. A bus drove by and the driver noticed that Victor seemed to be in trouble. The driver made an exception to the rule of picking up passengers between stops and gave Victor a ride to the hospital.

At the hospital Victor received eight stitches. The doctor was surprised to hear that Best Market wanted him to go back to work. The doctor had called the store manager to inform her that Victor would not go back to work for the next couple of days.

The store manager called Victor a few days later on his day off to ask him to come into work. She never asked how his hand was. When he did go back to work, the manager said to him, “hello stitches!”

September 7, 2018

Dale Roesch

Dale RoeschMy name is Dale Roesch.

I’ve been working at Best Market since 2016. I work at the Selden store in the seafood department. I work hard every day and care about our customers.  Some customers tell me that they shop with us just because I work here.

In the two years working here, Best Market has only given me a total of 50 cents in raises. I am listed as full time, but sometimes I get part time hours. Sometimes, my rent takes up my entire paycheck. I can’t contribute to my 401k. I also can’t afford Best Market’s healthcare on the wages they pay. I have three grandchildren who live in Florida. I can’t afford to go visit them. It hurts to know that one grandchild of mine, I have never seen in person.

I know of other Best Market workers who also have not had safety training. An accident like what happened to me can be deadly. I don’t want anybody to get hurt at Best Market.

My biggest worry about Best Market is that they do not do chemical safety training with many of their employees. We were understaffed one day so I was assigned a double shift. At the end of the day I was told to clean my department because the CEO was coming to visit. Using cleaning supplies from the store, I mixed bleach with a cleaner which I didn’t know contained ammonia.

I had to go to the hospital and stay there overnight. Permanent damage was done to my throat and lungs. I know of other Best Market workers who also have not had safety training. An accident like what happened to me can be deadly. I don’t want anybody to get hurt at Best Market.

Best Market should give us a livable wage, constant hours and proper safety training. Do better Best Market.

August 31, 2018

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas VerticalMy name is Mike Thomas.

I have many years of experience working in grocery stores as a lead in the seafood department. I have always enjoyed what I do and worked hard at it. The job had always provided a stable living for me and my family. In 2016, During Best Markets rapid expansion, I wound up having to take a job as Seafood team lead at Selden Best Market.

This job was unlike any other seafood job I ever had. I was bringing home around half of what I was earning at my previous grocery store. My 70 year old mother had to get a part time job so we could continue to make mortgage payments which I previously could afford.

…I haven’t been able to work for nearly a year. I worry every day about how I will support my 6 year old daughter.

It was a struggle every day to pay the bills, when things went from bad to worse. Management at Best Market was told about an open grate in my department, but they didn’t fix it. I got my foot caught in it and broke a bone. I had to get surgery on my foot, and I haven’t been able to work for nearly a year. I worry every day about how I will support my 6 year old daughter.

I want Best Market to provide fair wages and a safe job for all workers. We all work so hard to make this a successful company, and that’s the least we deserve.

August 28, 2018

Diomedes Mosquea

Diomedes MosqueaMy name is Diomedes Mosquea.

I’ve been working at Best Market for four years now. I work really hard in the produce department. I go out of my way to help customers in any way that I can. I know many of my customers on a first name basis. Most of my customers don’t know the difficulties that Best Market has caused me.

Even though I’m classified as full time, the number of hours I get has been erratic. My pay has remained low throughout the last four years. I can’t afford some of the basics in life.  I struggle to pay for a taxi to take me to work. I felt terrible that I couldn’t afford to buy my niece a gift for her birthday.

I couldn’t afford the insurance that Best Market offers us. I couldn’t pay for the Insulin that I needed.

Like many of my coworkers, my biggest problem was that I couldn’t afford the insurance that Best Market offers us. I couldn’t pay for the Insulin that I needed. The insulin that I used instead resulted in me having diabetic seizures. My coworker recently found me at work having a seizure and they had to call an ambulance for me.

Once I called in to tell my boss that I would be late because I had a seizure that day. My boss was upset at me for arriving to work late.  He treated me like I wanted to be sick. I want nothing more than to be healthy and happy. I wish so much that Best Market would appreciate me for the hard work that I do and provide me with better wages so I could afford their healthcare.

August 24, 2018

David Ness

David NessI am David Ness.

I’ve been an employee for Best Market for almost 4 years now. I work at the Selden store. I love our customers and I like to do everything I can to make their shopping experience the best. I’m happy to help in any department that needs me.  I’ve worked in maintenance, in seafood, and as a porter.

Last year, Best Market put me in the worst situation of my life. I was working full time at the store. My wages were low, but I was able to just scrape by. I couldn’t understand why more people were being hired at my store, while they were cutting the hours of longer term workers like me. Even though I was willing to work in any department, at any time, I just wasn’t getting the hours I needed to pay the bills. I couldn’t believe that I wound up homeless.

Even though I was willing to work in any department, at any time, I just wasn’t getting the hours I needed to pay the bills. I couldn’t believe that I wound up homeless.

I never thought that I would have to stay up all night at the shopping center where I worked. I went with almost no sleep for days. I spent much of the night looking for a safe place to stay.  My feet hurt so much in the morning, that I was barely able to stand at work. Instead of giving me more hours, my manager only said, “Dave you need to shave if you are going to work here.”

I’m now living in a shelter. I am thankful to have a roof over my head. With all the work I do for Best Market though, if they could give consistent hours and a fair wage, I would be able to rent a place of my own.