January 18, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Standing up for their collective rights has finally won some important gains for workers at Dylan’s Candy Bar – but together with their partners in labor, employees at the popular Upper East Side sweet shop say they won’t stop agitating until they have a signed union contract.
In a surprise development, some of the most outspoken workers pushing for change through protests held outside the 1011 Third Avenue store stretching as far back as last summer – and at least one failed attempt to confront the chain’s owner face-to-face in the fall – have recently been awarded overdue raises. And the entire staff has benefited, as well, from a collection of sought after safety improvements.
Despite that, however, workers tell LaborPress that their fervent desire for fairer working conditions at Dylan’s Candy Bar has not been assuaged.
“It’s like our job is done,” Dylan’s Candy Bar worker Iris Velasquez says. “We’re still trying to get [union] card signers.”
In addition to the limited pay raises, workers say that the implementation of more clearly defined work schedules shows that management is at least “putting in an effort” following the aforementioned job actions.
“Before that, we were totally ignored,” Velasquez says.
But Phil Andrews, head of the RWDSU’s Retail Organizing Project, charges that the limited changes that the management of Dylan’s Candy Bar has instituted – including the installation of a break room “suggestion box” – are merely part of a new “appeasement policy.”
“They still have not done anything for the workers in terms of health care,” Andrews points out. “One of the problems of temporarily appeasing workers and treating them nicely, is that there are no guarantees that the benefits will last. The only way to do that is through a union contract.”
According to Velasquez, other workers who also earned at least nominal pay raises, have still not yet received them – and management continues to be largely aloof.
“We’re still trying to get more communication,” Velasquez says.
In November, a Dylan’s Candy Bar sales associate named David Oscos, traveled all the way to Darien, Connecticut in hopes of speaking directly to Dylan Lauren – billionaire owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar – at a book signing held at a popular clothing shop on Boston Post Road. Oscos was, instead, hustled swiftly to the sidewalk.
“In a general sense, we are pleased with the positive changes that Dylan’s Candy Bar has made for the workers,” Andrews says. “But there are still a number of demands – including better pay and greater work opportunities – that the workers would like to see.
Until that happens, the RWDSU organizer promises that workers and the union will “continue to agitate inside and outside the store.”