As Yale students returned to town to start the fall semester, chanting protesters urged them not to return to their favorite all-night snack shop, due to allegations of wage theft.
Twenty demonstrators delivered that message at a Friday afternoon protest outside Gourmet Heaven on Broadway.
“What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” protesters chanted as they marched in front of the store, carrying signs that read “Stop Wage Theft” and “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”
Click the video to see scenes from the event.
The 24-hour food emporium is under investigation by the state Department of Labor for allegedly paying workers less than the minimum wage and withholding overtime pay. Click here to read about that.
Protesters called for Yale students to boycott the popular market—known to undergrads as “G-Heav”—until it pays its workers a fair wage. The Friday protest coincided with Yale’s move-in day for incoming freshmen.
Employees in the store said they had been told not to speak with reporters. Store owner Chung Cho couldn’t be reached for comment.
Nancy Steffen, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said Gourmet Heaven’s attorney turned over payroll records that department investigators are currently examining. She said the investigation should be wrapped up in the next two weeks.
Evelyn Nunez,—a member of Mecha, Yale’s Chicano student organization—was one of several featured speakers at Friday’s protest. She said she’s known for over a year that Gourmet Heaven was mistreating its workers. She called on students to “say no to G-Heav.”
Activist and protest organizer Megan Fountain said she started getting calls from students when news broke that Gourmet Heaven was being investigated by the Department of Labor. “When can we start a boycott?” they asked.
Fountain said the protest was called to “welcome the students back to Yale and let them know what’s going on so they know not to shop here.”
Activist Barbara Fair said workers at Gourmet Heaven are forced to work more than 75 hours a week.
A clerk at Gourmet Heaven said he works 40 hours a week. He declined to reveal his hourly wage.
After about 45 minutes of chants, speeches and song, the protesters packed up their signs, with a promise to return next Friday at the same time.