December 23, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Already struggling to make ends meet while their billionaire boss makes money hand over fist, workers at Dylan's Candy Bar on the Upper East Side, now say that there's reason for patrons of the popular confectionary shop to believe that their favorite candy queen – Dylan Lauren – doesn't care about them either.
“On multiple occasions, I have seen moldy strawberries stored in the Café refrigerator that are used for customers’ consumption in the store’s chocolate fountain,” David Oscos, a Café associate at Dylan’s Candy Bar, recently reported. “I’ve observed company management instruct associates to cut off the moldy parts of strawberries or to remove moldy strawberries from the package and use the remaining ones to serve to customers.”
For months now, Oscos and his co-workers have been trying to no avail to get Dylan Lauren – owner of Dylan's Candy Bar, and billionaire scion of famed fashion designer Ralph Lauren – to address the plight of employees who simply cannot make it on a decidedly less-than-sweet paycheck.
“Unsanitary food being served, cutting workers hours and not paying these workers a decent wage are examples of how this company mistreats its customers and workers,” said Phil Andrews, director of Retail Organizing at RWDSU.
Workers have partnered with the RWDSU in staging a series of job actions outside the flagship store located at 1011 Third Avenue since last summer. They've also started an online petition, and even tried to engage Dylan Lauren at a public book signing.
“We feel as though managers’ attitude towards some of the sanitary issues mirrors their attitude towards us: they don’t [care] about our voice and our concerns – just about the bottom line,” said Phil Arnone, another Dylan’s Candy Bar sales associate.
Accusations from workers that Dylan's Candy Bar is serving its patrons suspect sweets isn't sitting well with management.
An HR representative from the multi-million-dollar operation with outlets in East Hampton, Los Angeles and Miami Beach, told LaborPress that "The staff at Dylan's Candy Bar has been trained to be meticulous above and beyond health standards. We have received an 'A' [rating] by the Health and food department for this reason."
The rating that management is referring to was issued by the city over six months ago and included a critical violation involving food contact surfaces "not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred."
A recent visitor to Dylan's Candy Bar from San Francisco also complained that the store "seemed dirty and kind of run down."
Sales associates seeking unionization, have long maintained that managers at Dylan's Candy Bar refuse to assign experienced employees the additional hours that they request, while at the same time continuing a practice of hiring new workers.
“We applaud the workers for raising these health and safety concerns to management, and it is our hope that these issues can be addressed quickly," Andrews added. "It’s not fair to the workers nor the consumer to have to wonder if their food is sanitary or not. We look forward to continuing to work with these workers as they attempt to fight for unionization. ”
The National Labor Relations Board is currently investigating charges that Dylan's Candy Bar retaliated against outspoken workers who advocated for better working conditions.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, it is unclear what action, if any, the NYC Health Department plans to take in response to charges of potentially unsanitary conditions at Dylan's Candy Bar.