Workers Remain Without Jobs Or Pay
From El Diario
January 18, 2004

By Rosa Margarita Murphy

Garment workers demonstrated in front of a Brooklyn factory where they worked until recently. The owner of the factory shut it down without paying them for their last two weeks.

About 40 employees of the now-defunct company Crown Linen, located on 43 Hall Street in Brooklyn, say that they have not received pay for the last two weeks they worked for Charlie Seidenfeld, the boss of the sheet-making company.

"The majority of us are owed for two weeks of work, all we want is to get paid. Until about two months ago we worked under him so we would get paid," pointed out several of the former employees who spent hours waiting for their one-time boss in front of the door of the business.

They explained that Seidenfeld first fired a portion of the staff. Then, one month later, he fired the rest of the employees, canceling their last two weeks of pay.

"He normally cashed our checks for us, but charged us $3. We accepted this because the checks always bounced. But this time it was different. He gave us the checks knowing that there wasn't enough money in the bank. He told us that he would pay us today [Friday, January 16], but up to this moment he has not appeared, and we don't know what is happening with him," said María Betances, who worked in the factory.

Ana Luci Quito, who worked cleaning the factory, said that during her eight years working for Seidenfeld she had seen him move his business from state to state.

"Charlie Seidenfeld had always moved the factory around and changed its name. For two years he worked to move the company to New Jersey. Now it has happened," she said.

Of the 40 immigrant workers in the factory, 37 are woman, mostly single mothers, and three men. They make salaries between $5.25 and $8 dollars an hour.

"I am a single mother, I need my money. As if we don't need it, he closed the factory on us. It seems that Seidenfeld is going to move the business to the Dominican Republic. The last time we spoke with him, he told us that he didn't care if we complained to the Department of Labor," said María Sánchez.

The checks that the employees hold as proof were signed by Angelo Figueroa, who the workers identified as a supervisor. Those affected said that they don't know if the company for which they worked was actually called RSNY Fashions, Inc., as it appears on their checks. In the company's mailbox there was a placard that said Charlie Seidenfeld, Crown Linen RSNY Fashion Worldwide Manufactury International Home Fashion.

In the telephone directory, El Diario looked up Crown Linen, located on 43 Hall Street in Brooklyn, intending to speak with the manager. No one, however, answered our call. We also made several calls to Angelo Figueroa, but could not reach anyone.

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Translated from Spanish by Joshua Brustein.

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