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Huge victory in arrest of sweatshop employer!

By Daniel Gross - March 29, 2012

I write with great emotion, gratitude, and hope for the future. Nothing has reached as deep into the soul of the Brandworkers community as the crushing death of Juan Baten in a Brooklyn tortilla factory at the beginning of last year. And nothing has fortified our determination for change as much as the courageous efforts of Juan's widow, Rosario Ramirez, to achieve justice for Juan and their daughter Daisy Stephanie.

Juan lost his life because of his employer's reckless disregard for worker health & safety, a problem of endemic proportions in New York City's food processing factories and distribution warehouses. OSHA, the federal workplace safety agency, concluded that Juan's death would have been prevented had the employer placed a legally required and simple machine guard on the mixer that brutally ended Juan's life. After Juan's death, the factory owner Erasmo Ponce and fellow managers threatened workers if they cooperated with investigators, lied about Juan's death, and even disrespected Rosario at Juan's funeral.

Who would have challenged the employer's false narrative in the media and to government authorities if not for you, the Brandworkers community?

Who would have raised thousands of dollars for Rosario and Daisy if not for you, the Brandworkers community?

Who would have persistently advocated for Erasmo Ponce's arrest to the Office of the Attorney General if not for you, the Brandworkers community?

After this lengthy struggle and with your accompaniment, on Tuesday Rosario finally got some of the solace she so profoundly deserves. Authorities arrested sweatshop owner Erasmo Ponce on 26 felony counts and 23 misdemeanor counts, including falsifying business documents, wage-related violations, and misconduct in connection with the unemployment and workers compensation systems.

While nothing will bring Juan back and we still have a successful prosecution to see through, the ending of impunity for Erasmo Ponce helps honor Juan's sacrifice and helps ensure that such a needless loss of life is never repeated in New York City's industrial food sector or in any workplace.

You can read more about the arrest and Rosario's achievement with the help of Brandworkers:

NY Daily News: Tortilla factory owner Erasmo Ponce arrested after probe by AG Schneiderman

El Diario (Spanish): Chinantla responderá por violaciones laborales

DNAinfo: Owner of Tortilla Factory Where Worker Died Charged With Falsifying Records

Please accept my thanks for all that you do. Together we will march onward, in Juan's memory, to honor his life and to transform New York City's food system towards justice and human rights.


Daniel Gross
Executive Director