Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dan Dan Noodles with a Side of Controversy

Wu Liang Ye Dan Dan Noodles
Little did I know when I set out to pick up my order of Dan Dan noodles from Wu Liang Ye yesterday afternoon that I would happen upon a worker protest. Oh my...

Workers from the now defunct 39th Street and 86th Street branches of Wu Liang Ye were protesting the actions of the owners of those branches alleging among other things that they violated overtime and minimum wage laws. Last month Judge Denny Chin (aka the Madoff judge) handed down a default judgment awarding damages to the employees.

Wu Liang Ye Protest

From what I understand the charges against the 48th Street location were dropped in conjunction with this lawsuit because the owners of the 48th street location proved in court that they were separately owned. But the protesters were saying that the three restaurants acted as one. Sarah DiGregorio has a great write up over at the Village Voice. The protesters will be back tomorrow and plan a press conference today at 12:30.

Wu Liang Ye Protest

I'm really not sure what to think and I'm curious about the full story behind the story. As for the Dan Dan Noodles, they were absolutely delicious. This version didn't have peanut or peanut butter like the version at Spicy Tasty in Flushing. But they still had a nice spicy kick and great porky flavor. If you get these take out, don't delay in tossing them. The noodles stick together like crazy if you won't give them a little toss. For $6.50 these noodles made for a filling lunch. Definitely better than the Dan Dan at Szechuan Gourmet. I'd love to go back for more Dan Dan or perhaps try their much loved Sesame Noodles. In the meantime I'll be following this case to see where it goes.

Wu Liang Ye Dan Dan Noodles


OfficerWorker said...

There are lots of other places to get noodles. It's pretty lame to cross the picket line of these workers to get them.

Brownie said...

@officeworker: I had no idea that there was a protest when I went to pick up my order, and I seriously considered not going in to pick it up at all. Because I generally check out new places on Midtown Lunch to see any reviews before I commit I had actually just read Zach's various write ups on ML about this location including the one that linked to the New York Times article that said this particular branch was not named in the lawsuit that the workers were seeking damages for and that they had proven in court that they were under different ownership and actually gotten that case dismissed against them. I have mixed feelings about the whole situations. The actions of the restaurants name in the lawsuit are outrageous, and I very much side with their workers, but if this branch was not named in the suit and they were able to convince the courts that their ownership has been separate for years then I need more information about actual allegations against this particular branch. I will be following this story and if the truth comes to light that this particular branch is involved or acted in a similar way to the other restaurants with a full time, I will definitely publically boycott them until the situation with their workers is rectified.

Hungry said...

I've had a similar situation with Saigon Grill. Instead of take out though, I went to eat. And I didn't know that they were being protested at the time.

But when you really think about it, it's one side vs the other. How do you know which one is telling the truth? Is it fair to always side with the workers without knowing? Or is it okay to side with the restaurant thinking that they knew better and had treated their workers right?

I know that it's a tough situation and I don't think people should prejudge without knowing all the facts of both sides. And that's why I (like you) always like to wait until the courts decide what is right and wrong.

By the way, I did go in and eat at Saigon Grill. And later in the year, they were guilty of unfair wages amongst other things. And since then, I won't partake in their business.

rwordplay said...

One should not take a protest at face value. The issue is not always one of David pitted against Goliath.

As someone who has represented another Chinese restaurant, harried by Justice Will Be Served, I'm skeptical of the claims made by the workers, none of whom have ever worked at the 48th Street restaurant.

In fact, if my experience is any guide, the protester were likely hired for the protest for the day by Justice Will Be Served,

I think until some journalist or blogger takes the time to investigate Justice Will Be Served, it's best to consider them an opportunistic and parasitic group, exploiting the inherently problematic working environment faced by both owners and employees of small restaurants.

While it's true restaurant workers are, on occasion, exploited by unscrupulous owners, protests, such as the action outside Wu Liang Yee, are tactics employed to win concessions from mainly immigrant owned and operated restaurants in the City. Restaurants whose owners and partners struggle month to month, to remain in business.

In closing, it's easy to feel for workers—to root for the little guy in his/her struggle against the big boss—however, for the moment, I'd like readers to identify with the struggle of those who run these business.

Too often, these business owners have no defense against the publicity-seeking harassment Justice Will Be Served practices. Which is why I again encourage journalists and bloggers to investigate the legitimacy of the workers' claims, but also to investigate Justice Will Be Served and report how the group profits from their actions.

Dan said...

I think the Dan Dan from the Grand Sichuan on 7th ave are my favorite. As for peanut butter, I think you're mistaking sesame paste for goober.