Hummus Company Agrees to $600K Settlement for Unjust Firings

By Meredith Hoffman on May 7, 2012 1:53pm | Updated on May 7, 2012 4:08pm

Protesters gathered on Lexington Avenue between East 54th and East 53rd streets in the hopes of getting kosher cheese giant Tnuva to sever its ties with a Brooklyn distributor, Flaum Appetizing, that has amassed multiple workers' rights violations.
Protesters gathered on Lexington Avenue between East 54th and East 53rd streets in the hopes of getting kosher cheese giant Tnuva to sever its ties with a Brooklyn distributor, Flaum Appetizing, that has amassed multiple workers' rights violations.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

WILLIAMSBURG — A Brooklyn-based hummus company will be dishing out nearly $600,000 to its workers after the owner was cited for illegally firing them for striking.

Flaum Appetizing kosher food company's owner Moshe Grunhut ended two legal battles over workers' rights with the settlement last week, which will give $577,000 compensation to 15 of his former employees at the 288 Scholes St. company.

Workers alleged in a federal suit that Grunhut refused to pay overtime wages in 2008. They went on strike that year and were fired illegally for organizing, according to a National Labor Relations Board ruling. The Board ruled in January that Grunhut owed money to the workers for unfairly firing them, but Grunhut had been contesting the violation prior to last week's settlement.

In the past several months, stores around the city have stopped selling Flaum's products to protest the store's working conditions, according to published reports and representatives from the advocacy group Brandworkers International.

Companies boycotting the brand included Tnuva, the world's largest kosher dairy company, Zabar's, Food Emporium, and Morton Williams, Brandworkers representatives said.

The fight against Flaum has been led by Brandworkers and by the Orthodox Jewish social justice group Uri L'tzedek.

"We won late, but we won," said Maria Corona, of Williamsburg, who said she was fired in 2008 after organizing with other workers. Corona, 36, who worked at Flaum for four years in the salad preparation section of the business, claimed she was given no overtime pay for 70-hour workweeks.

"It's not just about the money," she said of the settlement. "It's about seeking justice—and I look forward to seeking justice for others in my position now."

The owner of Flaum did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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