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Upper East Side Restaurant Workers Celebrate Union Agreement That Followed Sit-In

FILE -- Signs belonging to members of Occupy Wall Street (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

FILE — Signs belonging to members of Occupy Wall Street (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Workers from the Hot & Crusty restaurant on the Upper East Side gathered Saturday evening to celebrate the formation of a union, following a high-profile sit-in at the restaurant last year.

The workers and advocates gathered Saturday evening at the Brecht Forum in the West Village to celebrate the successful organizing effort last fall.

The employees of the Hot and Crusty at 63rd Street and Second Avenue had voted in May to form an independent union, claiming less than minimum wage pay, no benefits, and long work weeks without overtime pay, among other grievances. They also filed a lawsuit, according to published reports.

But at the end of August, the restaurant closed and the 23 employees’ positions were eliminated. Workers accused the owners of the restaurant of retaliating against their decision to form a union, and members of Occupy Wall Street staged a sit-in that resulted in six arrests, according to a news release.

In September, both sides reached an agreement to reopen the store and allow the employees to form the independent Hot and Crusty Workers Association, according to the release.

In the September release from the Laundry Workers Center, Hot and Crusty employee and union campaign leader Mahoma Lopez called the agreement “a victory for all immigrant workers. We did this together, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the community support. When workers come together, anything is possible.”

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181, which represents school bus drivers who were on strike for a month, also attended the event celebrating the Hot and Crusty workers’ agreement.

The school bus driver walkout began Jan. 16 , triggered by the city’s plan to put bus contracts out to bid to lower costs. Union leaders demanded that job protections be considered in the bidding process, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued that such a provision was illegal.

While the issue was not settled, the strike officially ended on Friday and the drivers will return to the job on Wednesday.

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