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Service workers protest labor conditions in Flushing

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An alliance of workers banded together Wednesday afternoon in Flushing to protest unfair and illegal working practices at some city employers.

Gathering in front of Gwang Zhou restaurant at 136-59 37th Ave., where employees this week lodged a collective action lawsuit against the owners, dozens of Asian-American workers from across the city and Long Island held up signs blasting companies they say slighted them and chanting hopeful slogans.

The protest signified the expansion of a campaign begun in earnest last month with a rally against Gwang Zhou in particular. That event garnered enough attention to lead to increased energy and a larger crowd Wednesday, according to attendees like Song Deping, who said through a translator that he was underpaid and forced to work very long hours at Babi Nails in Carle Place, L.I. A request for comment from the manager of Babi Nails Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

“Because he has the same problem, he wants to join up with the other people, restaurant workers, nail salon workers. They all have the same problems,” a translator said for Deping. “We want to let everybody know that you have the power to complain, and the right to.”

Issues the employees are protesting include underpaying workers, not paying overtime, blacklisting, retribution for union organizing and more.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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