For years, catering companies on Long Island withheld tips that were meant for waiters and other workers. When it was ruled illegal in 2008, workers filed suit for millions of dollars in lost pay dating back to 2004. State Senator Jack Martins, who had not previously received contributions from the catering industry, took $56,000 and sponsored legislation to grant caterers immunity from lawsuits that had already been filed.
On April 2, Norman Gersman wrote a response in which he accused me of corrupting the election process. He complained that, if catering companies, such as Leonard’s of Great Neck, were forced to repay money that had been illegally withheld from their employees, it would hurt their bottom line. Boo Hoo! He had not one word of sympathy for the workers who were cheated, but he shed tears for the caterers that illegally profited off their labor.
Mr. Gerson said that “The catering industry had used accounting procedures approved by the state department of labor and were consistent with federal and state tax laws.” Let us remember that Jim Crow laws were also legal in the United States at one time, but that did not make them right.
If Jack Martins cannot tell the difference between what is legal and what is ethical, if he cannot empathize with hardworking people as much as he empathizes with his big-money donors, then we need a state senator who can.
— Ruth Shalom