Sushi Strike

Lunchtime at Matsu Sushi looked a bit different today:

A group of employees picketed the downtown restaurant.

They handed passersby a list of grievances. Among them:

  • No minimum wage or overtime, even for working more than 65 hours a week or 36-hour shifts
  • “Deposits” collected for work, and not refunded
  • Retaliatory firing.

Matsu Sushi manager Maggie Lin said of the picketers, “They are partners. Co-owners. I don’t know what else to say.”

She did not explain why they would be picketing their fellow owners.

19 responses to “Sushi Strike

  1. Caroline Howe

    I think their sushi is divine but I cannot support the owners’ greed, abuse of workers and violation of labour laws. What is the most effective way we can help?

  2. Matsu Sushi manager Maggie Lin said of the picketers, “They are partners. Co-owners. I don’t know what else to say.” What does this mean, makes no sense?

  3. Something’s fishy…..

  4. I went to dinner at Matsu a week ago Sunday and had the place to myself. Their patronage has melted away. Hard to understand since the food and service are as good as ever.

  5. What does ‘deposits collected for work’ & not returned mean?

    In my work w/ human trafficking, It means they paid for work necessary to get visas. Def looking forward to what else Dan’s – dan did you ever imagine your blog would host so many national & international issues as it has over the years ? – Blog will say about this.

    This is why blogs are so much better than traditional news media.

  6. Bill Boyd (staples 66)

    I got to know a young Chinese waiter twenty five years ago in Westport…he was similar to an indentured servant/laborer……they have no rights, have to work off their “debt” for years and are threatened with violence if they question or protest…..not saying that’s the case here….but there are some “odd” practice inn the world.

    • Susan Farley

      I’m sure Westport will find out tomorrow what ‘pay to work and not paid back’ means to this group, & handle it the right way,

      (which would include taking care of the employees brave/ naive enough to tell you this was happening, get them housing, cash & good visa applications quickly filed that explain circumstances so they aren’t vulnerable to deportation, And so that those who arranged them to pay for ‘work’ are known to USCIS, which can help their legit immigration applications)

      IF ‘paid to work’ means exactly that they had to ‘pay to work’ and IF that included work visas, H1B or if they’re ‘owners’ (and didn’t know it) maybe they use EB-5 Visas …

  7. “Matsu Sushi manager Maggie Lin said of the picketers, “They are partners. Co-owners.” I was wondering if Maggie can specify what percentage of the company’s equity the picketers own? If they are partners and co-owners, then by definition, they own equity in Matsu Sushi. Otherwise, they are merely employees. Maggie, please clarify. Thanks.

  8. Making and employee a “partner” and or and “administrator” is a way employers get around time and a half for overtime…that appears to be what’s going on here. Employees don’t bitch for no reason and scamming on overtime is the single most frequent abuse of proper employment practices.

  9. Richard Craig

    it’s a shame. we love this restaurant. i hesitate to go there if co-partners/co-owners are being unfairly taken advantage of, as alleged through this action.

    i am not a lawyer but if the co-partner ownership structure is transparent for all involved, it would seem that the co-partners/employees should have been presented with and signed documents showing they are co-owners/co-owners and how they are actually sharing the profits. people in the restaurant business have to work hard to be successful. we can aee how hard and enthusiastically they work. but, these “co-owners” seem to have the title in name only. hope that is not true. i’ll be holding off on my tempura and sashimi dinners until we can get a better understanding since the respective view have already been publicized to this extent.

    there oughta be a law. I’m sure the state has one somewhere and an investigative department to at least get to the bottom of this.

    the immigration-related angles pointed out in ither comments do make me wonder about some form of bondage being used. a properly structured continued service agreement would make sense if certain expenses were paid for training and transportation or housing in return for a minimum commitment. however, that should not be construed to allow for management to inflict improper pay and overtime abuses if that is what is happening here.

    I hope we can learn more hard facts to better understand what has transpired.

  10. Richard Fogel

    Shameful behavior by the staff. I hope the department of labor looks carefully. In the mean time I suggest avoiding a market that is so unfair

  11. I hope whoever in Westport is concerned about this, actively concerned, makes sure At Least everyone in this original photo here is accounted for today. If any of the above concerns is true they will be in ‘a bad spot’ today for ‘whistle blowing’

  12. Harry Mortner

    Where is the Connecticut Department of Labor? Are these employees legal residents of the US? There is no excuse for exploitation but the story is likely more complex.

  13. Servers really get screwed often, I don’t see a downside in assuming these people are telling the truth, how do we support them without endangering them.