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Just In: Stardust Diner Family United Says '15 Employees Fired in Retaliation of Union Activity'

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Just in via Stardust Family United, the newly established union for Ellen's Stardust Diner employees. "Last week, servers at the famed Ellen's Stardust Diner put down their microphones and held up ketchup bottles in response to now 15 of their co-workers terminated for their support of the newly established Stardust Family United, a branch of the IWW (the singing union). After weeks of the union asking to meet, Ken Sturm, the owner of Ellen's Stardust Diner, still refused to sit down with union members and discuss their concerns. The Stardusters began peacefully protesting outside the diner, singing songs of solidarity and holding signs on September 14th, demanding the immediate cessation of unfair labor practices in the reinstatement of employees terminated in retaliation for union organizing.

On the afternoon of September 14th, employees who were not outside protesting were told to close out their final tables and finish work. The restaurant, for the first time in memory, was closed to the public due to a "private event". The remaining staff of Ellen's Stardust Diner gathered downstairs in their sister restaurant, the Iridium Jazz Club, where servers were plucked out one by one to "check in for their shifts". Servers were brought upstairs into the closed restaurant and falsely accused of misconduct as a pretext for retaliatory termination for union activity. After the terminations were completed, Sturm read to remaining staff from a piece of paper. The bewildered and anxious staff listened to the owner of a business they spent so many hours building. "I feel like the rape victim who was accused of wearing a short dress," Sturm was quoted as saying, "Thats true."

"I'm incredibly hurt," said long-term employee, Jenna Miller, who was one of the 14 fired for union activity. "I have been a loyal employee of the diner on and off for 8 years. I loved my job. It is incredibly sad that Ellen's is no longer what it used to be. My family is there and I will continue to fight for my family." Refusing to apologize for working towards better working conditions for all staff, Miller is one of many that are no longer able to call "Stardust" their home.

Two weeks ago workers announced the highly publicized formation of Stardust Family United. The Stardust employees' union branch, under the Industrial Workers of the World, is supported by over 70 employees of Sturm's restaurant, Ellen's Stardust Diner. Sturm has since hired infamous union-busting attorney Brent Yessin. Workers have now filed over 34 charges of unfair labor practices with the NLRB with more on the way.

In addition, several new servers have been hired. These new "Stardusters" are being trained in secretive meetings and told to not communicate with current staff members for the safety of their jobs. They are trained by managers with little direct experience on the restaurant floor. This has been the cause for guests waiting nearly an hour for food, loss of tips, large gaps in the entertainment and an increasingly anxious work environment. Most of their training has been intense, lengthy union busting meetings run by individuals who until recently refused to provide a business card or name.

The union continues to receive an outpouring of support for their work and cause. You can join the movement today, Saturday the 24th outside of Ellen's Stardust Diner from 5pm-8pm. Members and supporters of Stardust Family United will be outside singing songs and sharing information with the public.

In addition, SFU will be hosting a fundraising show called "Stardust After Dark" this coming Monday, September 26th 2016 at Cielo At The Mayfair on 49th Street at 8pm celebrating and showcasing the talents of the Stardust Family. Doors open at 6:30pm and all proceeds go to Stardust Family United."


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