Sept. 30, 2003
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Campus groups at Cornell University and local Ithaca organizations held a press conference on Sept. 29 claiming the owner of College Town Pizza is violating workers' rights and labor laws.
According to The Cornell Daily Sun, over the past year, three former employees of the pizzeria have said College Town's owner, Khalid Attia, paid them $4.50 per hour cash (the U.S. minimum wage is $5.15), forced them to work 70-hour weeks without overtime pay and would not provide them wage statements. Additionally, the workers alleged Attia abused them verbally, threatened them physically and discriminated against them because they were Hispanic.
Representatives from the Tompkins County Worker's Rights Center, the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, La Asociación Latina, the U.S. Latino/a Grad Student Coalition (USLLGSC), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MeChA), and the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission were present at the conference.
"This has been going on for some time ... ," said Daisy Torres, secretary of La Asociación Latina. "I didn't think I would find this kind of situation so close to campus. In New York City, you hear about all this all the time."
The report said several citizens met with Attia on Aug. 28 and Sept. 5 to express their concerns about the treatment of the employees. One called him "very gracious" during the meeting, but said Attia has not complied with requests to change the situation.
The groups then reported the problem to the New York State Attorney General of the Labor Bureau and the office has since launched an investigation. Two Hispanic employees of College Town have been interviewed.