KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Since early this week, workers at Maru Sushi in Kalamazoo have been on strike due to unfair working conditions and pay.
"It's our livelihood and we can't afford to work in conditions that aren't fair to us," said Alec Olween, server.
Some of those unfair conditions reportedly include working without breaks and without a working dishwasher. He says they're also expected to work multiple positions without a change in pay. Workers sent a seven-page email to corporate Saturday morning, asking for a response by Sunday at 4 p.m. When they did not receive a response, they walked out the next day. Exactly thirteen minutes after they walked out, they were contacted by corporate.
"Thanks for your input; we appreciate it a lot. We'll get to these issues or we'll look into these issues and get to them in the coming months," Olween said the email read.
He says the coming months isn't good enough and they need a solution now, adding their frustration is solely with corporate and it doesn't seem their location is the only one suffering.
"A few of us have have gotten word from other Maru Sushi locations that their working conditions are also not up to their standard and that they feel that they should do something similar to this," said Olween.
Eleri Watkins created a GoFundMe page for her and other workers who took the risk of going on strike, in hopes of better work conditions.
"We need them to be supported financially, and to help them out because they took a big risk," said Watkins.
She says most workers start at $15 an hour. They're asking for $17 an hour due to the cost of living in the area and work responsibilities.
"If we don't get what we're asking for, people are looking for other jobs and, you know, finding other work. So that's kind of the game plan at this point," said Watkins.
You can support the workers on strike by checking out their GoFundMe page here.