By Ivan Pereira
Members of the restaurant union gathered outside a Flushing restaurant last Thursday to stage a protest against its owners who they say have been using intimidation tactics against them.
Representatives of the Local 318 Restaurant Workers and the workers advocacy group Justice Will Be Served! picketed outside the Bai Lao Hui Restaurant at 142-38 Roosevelt Ave. after they said a restaurant employee had assaulted some protesters the night before.
The groups have been speaking out against owners Jia Li Wang and Chun Kit Cheng since September after they allegedly refused to hire union workers at the restaurant despite being issued violations for employee discrimination at another of their Flushing eateries by the National Labor Relations Board earlier in the year, the protestors said.
Wendy Cheung, of Justice Will Be Served, said the owners were retaliating against the union, which brought the case to the labor board.
“When many union workers went to apply for jobs, they were never called back,” she said.
Wang and Cheng could not be reached for comment.
Tensions between the two sides got worse on Dec. 22, according to Cheung, when one of the Bai Lao Hui employees ï»¿physically assaulted one of the protesters during a demonstration. Although the man was allegedly arrested for the attack and the victim was not seriously hurt, Cheung said the union members are afraid that this could be the start of more problems with the owners.
“There has been escalating violence. They have said things like, ‘You should all die,’” she said.
The Police Department could not provide information on the arrest or the incident. Nevertheless, the protesters called on the NYPD to investigate the incident and take action against Bai Lao Hui’s owners because of their alleged threats.
The union workers have pushed for equal rights for years and they will not be bullied into giving up those employment privileges, according to Cheung.
“We all feel endangered,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.