The owners of Westport’s Matsu Sushi are fighting back against calls for a boycott of the restaurant over its dismissal of two chefs.
The chefs – Jianming Jiang and Liguo Ding – along with State Sen. Will Haskell (D, 26th) and various others have protested in front of the restaurant at 33 Jesup Road, alleging that they were fired after refusing to work a 36-hour shift. The pair also claim they are out over $150,000 that they gave to co-owner Marty Cheng as an investment in the business, and alleging a systematic pattern of exploitation of workers.
The chefs filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and won decisions ordering their reinstatement in July 2018. That decision was reaffirmed this July following an appeal by Cheng.
Cheng and fellow co-owner Michael Cao have released a statement maintaining that “Recent reports of worker exploitation are simply wrong and solely meant to damage the reputation of the Matsu Sushi restaurant in Westport, hurt business there and scare the owners into paying them thousands of dollars rather than resolve the issues on the merits in a court of law, which is what the owners have sought.
“We understand the maneuvers are designed to gain leverage in the dispute but it’s still disappointing to see long-time partners and colleagues who have shared in the financial success of the restaurant as equity partners (shareholders) attempting to disrupt the very business that has produced that success with false claims and threatened boycotts,” the owners continued.
“A trial to be held in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut this fall will show that our partners received financial returns that were multiple times their initial investment,” they added. “Far from earning minimum wage, as has been alleged, for their labor, in many years our partners were earning thousands of dollars extra each month in dividend checks – on top of their wages. It was a second investment in our now closed Darien location that didn’t produce the same returns for investors that has brought us to this point of dispute.”