Halal Cart Vendors Harassed by Former Obama Adviser Stuart Seldowitz

On November 7, a man approached Q Halal Cart on 83rd and Second Avenue and launched into an Islamophobic tirade, attacking the operator’s faith and culture and accusing him of supporting terrorists. It was the first of several incidents where Stuart Seldowitz, a former senior political officer in the U.S. State Department, berated the operators of the street cart. “We never have any trouble with anyone,” said Sam, an Egyptian immigrant who works at the cart and declined to give his full name. “

New York’s 20,000 Building Cleaners Ready to Strike for a Fair Contract

New York City’s office buildings employ nearly as many cleaning workers as it took to build the Hoover Dam. Like clockwork, the 20,000 office cleaners work day and night to ensure New York’s 1,300 buildings have their trash disposed of and their bathrooms clean. Now many of those cleaners, members of the labor union Local 32BJ, have vowed to walk off the job on New Year’s Eve if a new and fair contract isn’t reached with some of the largest real estate companies in the city. Their current colle

New York City High School Students Walk Out to Demand Ceasefire In Gaza

Outside the steps of the 42nd Street Library, close to a thousand demonstrators gathered Thursday night, demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, which has cost the lives of nearly 10,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis thus far. Among the demonstrators were hundreds of New York City public school students who had walked out of their classrooms earlier that day in protest. Together they chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as they stood atop the library

New York City Passes Landmark Bill of Rights for Immigrant Workers

The New York City Council passed landmark legislation today establishing the city’s first workers’ bill of rights, a victory for immigrant workers. The bill, which was first introduced by Brooklyn Council Member Shahana Hanif in May, would require multiple city departments as well as community and labor organizations to create a workers’ bill of rights that would detail the rights and protections workers are guaranteed under federal, state, and local laws regardless of a worker’s immigration st

Behind a Chinatown Real Estate Deal, a Web of Shifting Alliances and Political Connections

On Sept. 29, when New York City was hit by record rains, the 88 East Broadway Mall in Chinatown was experiencing one of its busiest days since the pandemic. Nearly 300 Chinese immigrants from Langqi, a village in the Fujian Province in China, gathered to hold a religious ceremony and banquet in honor of their deities at the mall’s renowned restaurant, 88 Palace. The air carried a unique blend of scents — the fragrance of roasting suckling pig mingling with burning incense. Amidst the lively bea

Palestinian New Yorkers Rally Amid Gaza Conflict

Palestinian New Yorkers and supporters gathered Friday to express their frustrations about their inability to safely support the more than 2 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza as Israel continues to bomb the territory. Some spoke of a growing fear of a return to post-9/11 Islamophobia and persecution. At a rally for Palestine in front of City Hall on Friday morning, attorney Omar Jamal, a board member with the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), condemned

New National Labor Relations Board Policies Can Protect Undocumented Workers

In February, a slim majority of the workers at Lodi, the upscale Italian restaurant in Rockefeller Center founded by the Uruguayan-born chef Ignacio Mattos, whose menu includes a single pork loin with roasted squash entree for $66, voted against joining the Restaurant Workers Union Local 1 (RWU). A little over a month earlier, the union had gone public with two-thirds of the workers having signed union cards. The news of the loss was disappointing but not shocking for Antonio, a 42-year-old und

Undocumented Clean Up Workers Are The "Forgotten Heroes" of 9/11 Attack

The metal beams of the south tower stood in the middle of the debris like carcasses, María Ernestina Hernandez, 41 at the time, observed. It was September 12, 2001 and she had been taken by an independent contractor, recommended by her friend, to help clean businesses on Cortland Street, an area which had been covered with a billowing white-dust. At the start of what would be a six-month employment journey, Hernandez felt like a hero. She remembers dusting off keyboards, monitors, and stacks of

Street Vendors Occupy Corona Plaza to Protest NYC Crackdown

Every day, Corona Plaza in Queens becomes a bustling food mecca serving hungry visitors and working-class immigrant communities alike. Nearly a hundred food vendors usually crowd the small plaza transforming it into an eclectic, informal market simmering with the aroma of juicy tacos de birria and cheesy arepas de queso. The vendors seem synchronized to the rhythms of Mexican Grupero or Caribbean Salsa music that reverberates throughout the square. Also Read: Street Vendors Fight for Public Spa

Street Vendors Fight for Public Space Outside Hudson Yards

For the past two months, Mohamed Awad has been issued a barrage of tickets from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation on a nearly daily basis for refusing to move the last of the three food carts that he has operated outside Bella Abzug Park, on the corner of the 33rd Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues, since 2015. Since the grand opening of Hudson Yards’ first phase in 2019, Awad has been in a tug of war with the neighborhood’s business improvement district over his right t

Immigrant Residents Move to Stop Coney Island Casino Bid

Inside a small taco stand located in the heart of the Coney Island amusement district, a small but vocal group of community members gathered over a platter of tacos al pastor, to discuss how a proposed casino would affect their lives. Also Read: Immigrant Residents in Queens Say a Casino Will Harm Their Communities “They will push us out and push local business out,” Jenny Hernandez, 30, said at the event. She has lived in Coney Island since she immigrated with her family from Mexico when she

Swissport LaGuardia Airport Workers Announce Strike

Beginning at 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning, dozens of LaGuardia Airport ramp and cabin workers walked off the job in a dramatic escalation of a years-long struggle for fair wages and safe working conditions at one of the nation’s busiest airports. The workers, who are represented by 32BJ SEIU, say they are going on a 24-hour strike because they are fed up with their employer, Swissport USA. They say the company has committed repeated acts of retaliation, interrogations, and other unfair labor prac

Obscure Law Enables Herald Square’s Private Security to Issue Street Vendors Tickets

Street vendors like Mohamed Ahmed have to contend with New York City’s byzantine rules related to their trade. Many regularly find themselves in the drab offices of the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) in Downtown Manhattan where they try to argue their way out of fines issued by the NYPD and the Department of Sanitation. To vendors like Ahmed, who grills chicken and other food on 34th Street, NYPD and DOS officers is a familiar sight and the cost of doing busine

No Safe Bet: Immigrant Residents in Queens Say a Casino Will Harm Their Communities

Mets owner Steven Cohen really wants to build a casino in Queens. To make his dream a reality, he has launched a multi-million dollar campaign to sway Queens elected officials, the city, and the state into letting him build the casino on a 50-acre city-owned parking lot next to Citi Field which is legally registered as public parkland. But a growing coalition of immigrant-led community, civic and environmental groups have vowed to stop the plan. As of yet, there is no exact time frame for when

Why Immigrant Doctors Threatened to Strike at Two Hospitals in Queens

During the first wave of Covid-19, Queens hospitals were on the frontlines of the pandemic. Although they were celebrated as essential workers, some first-year physician residents were only making between $15 and $17 an hour while they routinely worked 80-hour weeks. Nearly three years later, about 300 resident physicians and fellows at Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals have won a new contract after threatening to walk off the job if their demands for better wages and improved working conditions w

Unions Fight to Include Wage Theft in U-Visa Program

Advocates celebrated on Feb. 13 when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced they would be issuing U-Visa certifications in support of undocumented workers who experienced workplace abuses. But soon, they learned that a key element was missing: wage theft, an issue that affects tens of thousands of workers in New York State per year, would not qualify. “We most certainly wish that the DOL would consider wage theft as a qualifying crime for U- and T-Visa certifications,”

Immigrant Workers Lead Strike Against Billionaire Catsimatidis

André Soleyn, 55, and two dozen of his fellow United Metro Energy Corp. workers never wanted to go on strike in the first place. After the workers voted to join Teamsters Local 553 in December 2018, the company dragged its feet in negotiating a fair contract for three years. Feeling like they were left with no choice, the workers decided to take collective action. “It was a last resort,” Soleyn said. Tuesday, April 18, marks the two-year anniversary of the strike. Yet, Soleyn and the rest of t

Immigrant Workers File National Complaints Against Employer's Intimidation Tactics

About 40 immigrant indigenous workers at the non-union, Brooklyn-based demolition company Best Super Cleaning, have begun their monthly picket lines outside the company’s worksites again, this time demanding an end to the retaliation and intimidation from their employer. Last month the workers filed two charges with the National Labor Relations Board, one on March 13 and the other on March 27, charging the company with surveilling its workers’ organizing activity and threatening workers who cho

Nursing Home 'Hell' is Hotbed of Drug Smuggling, Violence, Neglect and Theft

Tomika Lee was sitting at her security guard post in the lobby of the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, when a nurse alerted her that two elderly men were fighting. “It was getting really heated,” she said. One of the men was taking his wheelchair apart, piece by piece, and throwing it at the other resident. They were fighting over cigarettes, Lee, who was 23-years-old at the time, learned. The facility’s rules dictate that security guards can’t physically restrain residents, they hav

Despite Reforms, Sex Workers in New York Still Live in Fear of Arrest

Editor’s note: While Documented uses sex workers to refer to individuals and sex work as a trade, prostitution is still used as a legal term in New York, so we use it in that context exclusively. Several times a night, police officers patrol Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, on foot, shining their glaring flashlights at women standing outside the entrances of massage parlors. The women are sex workers, trying to draw customers into massage parlors. As the officers pass, the women flee into t
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