Out of the Box Public Service

By Megan Izen Aug 21, 2007

Restaurant Daniel workers Mohammed Mollik Miah, Ignacio Garcia and Jose Gomez with Councilmember Dan Garodnick, borough president Scott Stringer, and ROC representatives Rekha Eanni and Saru Jayaraman. Gomez, who thanked Garodnick on behalf of all Restaurant Daniel workers, was employed for ten years without a promotion before injuring himself on the job. Last night, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York and its many supporters gathered at Colors Restaurant to celebrate victory in its two-year campaign of weekly protests and unsuccessful negotiations with Restaurant Daniel owned by chef Daniel Boulud. The suit brought resolution to Latino and Bengali workers who were discriminated against by Boulud and his managerial staff. ROC NY and three Restaurant Daniel workers honored those who made the win possible, especially City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who mediated the settlement. Restaurant Daniel is in Garodnick’s district, one of the wealthiest in Manhattan, but none of the workers he represented are residents. “He allowed us to call him on his cell phone at all hours even on the weekends to attend meetings and make this victory possible. He helped us for nothing in return. He got little press from this and did this from the goodness of his heart,” said ROC NY executive director Saru Jayaraman. But this isn’t the Councilmember’s first encounter with racial justice struggles. Garodnick has a long track record of supporting civil rights, racial justice and social justice efforts. Before taking office he represented and worked with organizations like the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the New York Civil Rights Coalition on education equity and racial discrimination issues. Garodnick says, while he is no longer a litigant in the civil rights non-profit arena, he is putting those experiences and skills to good use in a different way as an ‘out of the box’ legislator. He closed his speech saying that he’ll be a, "friend and ally as long as they’ll let me work and fight for the rights of the workers of New York."