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Workers Rally Outside Shuttered Trade Fair, Call Owner a 'Grinch'

By Katie Honan | December 13, 2013 4:30pm
 The supermarket closed its doors Tuesday morning, locking workers out.
Trade Fair Workers Rally Outside Shuttered Store
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JACKSON HEIGHTS — Workers and labor activists protested in front of a controversial Trade Fair supermarket Friday morning, calling the chain's owner a "Grinch" and blasting the store for abruptly closing its doors Tuesday morning without giving employees any notice just before the holidays.

Protesters gathered in front of the store, where a large inflatable rat was erected earlier this week, and shouted "Trade Fair, unfair!"

One organizer was dressed in a Santa Claus costume — while wearing a Grinch mask — and called Trade Fair's owner, Farid "Frank" Jaber, a grinch and a rat.

Employees of the store on 37th Avenue between 76th and 75th streets came to work Tuesday morning but were not let in, according to representatives from the employees' unions.

"Trade Fair's actions are disgusting an inexcusable," said John Durso, the president of Local 338, which represents some of the store's employees.

Kate Meckler, from Local 342, which represents the meat department workers, said Trade Fair's actions have taken a toll on the community, as well as its employees.

"At a time when families are gathering and giving thanks, the owner of Trade Fair...is showing once again that he has no heart or respect for hardworking New Yorkers," she said.

Councilman Danny Dromm — who was punched by a Trade Fair truck driver in 2012 —said the store was a "community menace."

"Its really unfortunate that we have to be here again," he said.

"In every way possible [Jaber] has thought of breaking the law, he has done it."

Workers said they came to the store on Tuesday morning and were told by the store's manager, Victor Fuentes, that the store was closed.

Fuentes refused to comment on what was going on inside the locked doors. Calls made to Trade Fair's lawyer, Frank Graziadei have not been returned.

He told DNAinfo on Wednesday that he didn't know anything other than the store was closing.

At the rally, Rafael Polanco, who has worked at the store for 14 years, choked up while talking about being out of a job so close to Christmas.

"Those of us who have families, how are we supposed to tell our children, 'There is no Christmas?," he said through a translator.