Workers in Flushing protest biz conditions

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A Flushing businessman with about a dozen restaurants, karaoke bars, nail salons and other businesses throughout New York City came under heavy fire during a protest Tuesday afternoon in front of his Chao Zhou Restaurant in the heart of downtown Flushing.

The protest, which drew several dozen people together on the street next to the eatery at 40-52 Main St., was aimed at exposing what former workers and representatives of the Justice Will Be Served Campaign labor advocacy group said are the unlawful labor practices used at Tse Yue Wang’s string of businesses.

Workers at Chao Zhou declined to comment and could not provide contact information for Wang Tuesday afternoon. Wang’s lawyer, Joe Labuda, did not return a request for comment.

A group of workers and former workers of Wang’s recently filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against Wang, a number of his shops and several of his employee supervisors.

The complaint alleges Wang paid workers less than minimum wage, that he failed to provide overtime pay and that when workers at several of his businesses — including Tomo Sushi and Sake Bar in Morningside Heights in Manhattan — attempted to organize for their rights, he shuttered the shops and fired all the employees.

Now he has applied for bankruptcy protection as a way to avoid his responsibilities, the suit alleges.

“This boss, Tse Yue Wang, is the biggest sweatshop kingpin in Flushing. He has built his empire on the sweat of workers,” Lirong Gao, a representative of Justice Will Be Served, yelled through a Mandarin translator, invigorating the crowd of supporters. “He exploited these workers in the worst way possible. ... We need to use action to show that workers are not easy to be exploited, easy to be harassed.”

The assembled crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace” and held up signs bearing slogans such as “Shame on Tse Yue Wang” and “Hire Union Workers Now.”

An Wang worked as a delivery driver for Tomo before Tse Yue Wang closed it down, and he alleges that his former boss made him and his fellow co-workers work 60 to 70 hours per week, but only paid them $500 to $700 a month.

Even worse was the way he dealt with work-related injuries, An Wang said.

“When I was making a delivery, I was hit by a car one or two years ago,” he said. “All [Tse Yue Wang] said was, ‘Oh, did he die?’ He didn’t care.”

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

Updated 6:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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