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V.I. Workers Union President Declares War With Fast Food Owner

May 16, 2006 – V.I. Workers Union President Charlesworth Nicholas has declared war with fast food owner Kazi Foods following news that Pizza Hut workers at St. Croix's Villa La Reine Shopping Center on Monday unanimously rejected an effort by the V.I. Workers Union to represent them.
St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt, who represents Pizza Hut's local owner, Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands Inc., said 15 people work at that Pizza Hut branch.
Workers Union President Charlesworth Nicholas put the number at 10. He said workers approached the union to represent them when they did not receive proper notice that the restaurant was sold to Kazi Foods from Yum! Restaurants.
The Pizza Hut workers were not then represented by any union.
Nicholas said the workers were told that their prior service with Yum! Restaurants wouldn't count toward future vacation or sick day benefits.
He added that workers were fired by Yum! Restaurants and then hired by Kazi Foods.
Kazi Foods bought all Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken operations in the Virgin Islands in mid-March.
The company is owned by St. Thomas-based businessman Zubair Kazi, who is the second-largest owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants on the mainland. Bolt said he also owns Kazi Management of the Virgin Islands, which is an Economic Development Commission beneficiary.
Attorney Randy Avram, of Raleigh, N.C.-based Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, worked with Bolt in representing Kazi Foods during the negotiations.
In a news release, Avram attributes the vote to "the workers understanding the facts – the expense of joining the union and that there is no guarantee of benefits increasing as a result of being a part of the union."
Juan Mujica, vice president of operations for Kazi Foods, said in a news release that the vote gives Kazi Foods a chance to show its commitment to its employees.
However, Nicholas said that Kazi Foods "bribed" the Pizza Hut workers not to vote for union representation after the employees approached the union.
Iliana Isabel Alvarez, who answered the phone at the Villa La Reine Pizza Hut, said she voted against unionization because no one from the union spoke to her personally about why she should join.
She said she didn't know why her fellow workers approached the union about representing them.
Nicholas said the issue is broader than just the Villa La Reine Pizza Hut, which he said employs mostly young people just out of school.
He said that the 60 to 75 employees of the three KFC restaurants on St. Thomas will vote shortly on whether they want the union to represent them. They currently have no union representation.
"They're [Kazi Foods] not worried about 10 employees at Pizza Hut," Nicholas said.
Nicholas added that the union represents the workers at the three KFC restaurants on St. Croix. "They have benefits," he said.
He said Pizza Hut workers on St. Thomas also are not unionized.
Nicholas was particularly incensed that Bolt sent out a press release announcing that Kazi Foods was successful in keeping out the union.
"The war is on," he said.
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May 16, 2006 - V.I. Workers Union President Charlesworth Nicholas has declared war with fast food owner Kazi Foods following news that Pizza Hut workers at St. Croix's Villa La Reine Shopping Center on Monday unanimously rejected an effort by the V.I. Workers Union to represent them.
St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt, who represents Pizza Hut's local owner, Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands Inc., said 15 people work at that Pizza Hut branch.
Workers Union President Charlesworth Nicholas put the number at 10. He said workers approached the union to represent them when they did not receive proper notice that the restaurant was sold to Kazi Foods from Yum! Restaurants.
The Pizza Hut workers were not then represented by any union.
Nicholas said the workers were told that their prior service with Yum! Restaurants wouldn't count toward future vacation or sick day benefits.
He added that workers were fired by Yum! Restaurants and then hired by Kazi Foods.
Kazi Foods bought all Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken operations in the Virgin Islands in mid-March.
The company is owned by St. Thomas-based businessman Zubair Kazi, who is the second-largest owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants on the mainland. Bolt said he also owns Kazi Management of the Virgin Islands, which is an Economic Development Commission beneficiary.
Attorney Randy Avram, of Raleigh, N.C.-based Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, worked with Bolt in representing Kazi Foods during the negotiations.
In a news release, Avram attributes the vote to "the workers understanding the facts - the expense of joining the union and that there is no guarantee of benefits increasing as a result of being a part of the union."
Juan Mujica, vice president of operations for Kazi Foods, said in a news release that the vote gives Kazi Foods a chance to show its commitment to its employees.
However, Nicholas said that Kazi Foods "bribed" the Pizza Hut workers not to vote for union representation after the employees approached the union.
Iliana Isabel Alvarez, who answered the phone at the Villa La Reine Pizza Hut, said she voted against unionization because no one from the union spoke to her personally about why she should join.
She said she didn't know why her fellow workers approached the union about representing them.
Nicholas said the issue is broader than just the Villa La Reine Pizza Hut, which he said employs mostly young people just out of school.
He said that the 60 to 75 employees of the three KFC restaurants on St. Thomas will vote shortly on whether they want the union to represent them. They currently have no union representation.
"They're [Kazi Foods] not worried about 10 employees at Pizza Hut," Nicholas said.
Nicholas added that the union represents the workers at the three KFC restaurants on St. Croix. "They have benefits," he said.
He said Pizza Hut workers on St. Thomas also are not unionized.
Nicholas was particularly incensed that Bolt sent out a press release announcing that Kazi Foods was successful in keeping out the union.
"The war is on," he said.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.