I have never made any secret of my non-cinematic affiliations in this blog and I certainly don't intend to start doing so now. Besides, given the huge number of filmmakers and photographers who buy needed materials from B+H Photo and Video, this really is a film-related post anyway. At any rate, they are currently under much-deserved scrutiny for their treatment of the workers in their warehouses. Since 2007, the company has been monitored by the EEOC and has repeatedly been sued for gender and racial discrmination. More than that, the work conditions in the warehouse are highly undesirable, even dangerous. To quote from a website created by the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (of which I am a member) in support of the boycott of the firm:
During a 2014 fire at the Brooklyn Navy Yard ware-house, being denied access to fire exits so management could run employees through metal detectors to check for potential theft while flames continued to grow.
Following the fire, workers contacted the Laundry Workers’ Center (LWC) to help them organize and address their grievances. In November 2015, almost 200 of B&H’s 240 warehouse workers voted to join the United Steelworkers to secure a union contract.
The company's response to the organizing drive was about what you would expect. They have prolonged talks unconscionably, and threatened to move the warehouse operation to New Jersey, which would be inaccessible to the vast majority of their underpaid and largely immigrant workforce. And if all this sounds familiar, it's the same playbook union-busters have always used: Delay, Linger and Wait.
Of course, there are two more elements in the equation now. If Donald Trump can stay in office a bit longer -- an open question, I'll gleefully grant -- he will appoint several new members to the National Labor Relations Board and they can be expected to rule against workers regularly. And if the Orange One sticks around long enough, he will try to deport anyone he can. If it sounds like I'm joking about this, trust me, I'm not. I urge you to go to the website, sign on to the letter supporting the workers and stay the hell out of B+H. Keep in mind, too, that much of their business now comes from the Internet, not just from NY-based customers, so spread the word anywhere you can.