What is the situation now for the heroes of the film?
After the store reopened in 2013, the new management cooperated with the union and honored their three year contract. During this time, the name of the store changed to Bröd Kitchen, and the workers described a situation that was completely different from when they started the campaign— they felt greater respect in the workplace and collectively felt they had a significant voice in how the restaurant operated internally. However, when the contract came up for renewal in early 2016, workers and management were not able to come to an agreement on the contract renegotiation. Mahoma López and several other union workers were fired under allegedly illegal circumstances (the cases are currently being evaluated by the National Labor Relations Board). After several weeks of dispute, management closed both locations of Bröd Kitchen (the original 63rd Street location as well as a newer location on West 4th Street) in February 2016, laying off all union and nonunion workers.
Though the Hot & Crusty at 63rd Street no longer exists, the workers who participated in this campaign were changed forever by it. Since winning their first contract, Mahoma López and Maurilio Ortega, two of the original participants, have worked as community and workplace organizers with Laundry Workers Center, helping other workers in New York City to lead their own campaigns to recuperate stolen wages and improve working conditions. Mahoma López is now Co-Executive Director of the Laundry Workers Center, and lead organizer of the successful and high profile campaign to organize over 200 warehouse workers from iconic NYC electronics retailer B&H Photo Video, the largest non-chain video and equipment store in the country. To learn more about this campaign and voice your support, please visit bhexposed.org.