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Hillary Clinton Appears at Union Front to Woo NYC Labor

Group once accused of failing to pay workers

Hillary Clinton
AP
April 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s final push to lock down labor support in New York included a stop at a restaurant owned by a labor front group once accused of withholding wages from workers.

Clinton stopped by COLORS restaurant on Monday to highlight her support for labor activism. The restaurant is owned by the Restaurant Opportunities Center, a nonprofit union advocacy group founded in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

ROC has attracted criticism in the past for failing to live up to the standards it calls on other restaurants to follow.

Eight former ROC United workers filed suit against the group in 2007 for failing to pay them wages for their work to get COLORS off the ground. The suit was ultimately dismissed, according to Watchdog.

The restaurant has also run into trouble, as its revenue failed to cover expenses, leading it to close down from 2012 to 2014. It has a history of health code violations, including a May 2015 inspection that found five sanitary violations.

Ryan Williams, spokesman for the labor watchdog group Worker Center Watch, said that Clinton should have done a better job vetting her supporters among union activists as she 'tries to out-Bernie Bernie Sanders." He pointed out to a federal scandal in which chapters of ROC used taxpayer funds to advance its agenda.

'Blinded by the politics of a NY Democratic primary, the Clinton team should have done a little more vetting," he said. 'The Democratic frontrunner just appeared at an organization's restaurant that misrepresented itself to a federal agency to secure taxpayer funds. Those misappropriated funds were used for worker trainings in the restaurant to keep it afloat."

Clinton, who served as New York’s U.S. senator from 2000 to 2008, faced a late surge from Sanders in the closing weeks of the primary. Part of Sanders’ improved polling position comes from his last minute appeals to organized labor.

On Wednesday, Sanders won the endorsement of the politically influential Transit Workers Union Local 100, which represents more than 40,000 public transportation workers in the greater New York City area. Clinton led Sanders by more than 30 points throughout March, but saw the lead fall to less than 12 percent in April, according to a Real Clear Politics polling average.

Sanders has won eight of the last nine Democratic primaries and caucuses.