The Trade Fair in Jackson Heights, Queens has long been a great source of hard-to-find ethnic food. More recently, however, it's been a location of labor struggle, as multiple appearances of scabby the inflatable rat signaled a borough-wide strike against the chain, where workers from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 338 claimed mistreatment by the owners.
The labor situation got so bad over recent months that the owner of the Jackson Heights location decided to sell the supermarket. The buyer, Mohammed Haque, promptly shut the supermarket down without warning, just two weeks before Christmas last year. It remained closed for weeks as its inventory sat neatly ordered on the shelves. Looking in from outside, the eerie supermarket was perfectly still, besides the security guard posted there 24/7 to keep workers out. On Wednesday, the Trade Fair will reopen, but now it will be called Global Supermarket. It will reopen without a single former employee.
"I have my own workers. I don't have any of the union workers at this time," Haque told DNAInfo on Monday.
This comes as a distinct turnaround from December when he told the same DNAinfo reporter that "I'm planning to hire some workers from here, and some from my other stores."
As workers hung the new Global Supermarket sign over the old Trade Fair awning, former employees continued their protests at the site. Now officially unemployed, the workers have vowed to continue to fight for their jobs back. On Wednesday, workers are planning on having a rally outside the supermarket at noon. Scabby will be there.