Robert Frank calls me Thursday afternoon.
Robert: “They called me in to a meeting with Human Resources on Monday. The union rep stood by and let them cream me. She didn’t open her mouth in my defense one bit. They started accusing me of being a liar and a traitor to the company.
“At the end of the meeting, they said they’d let me know the determination.
“Not a good day. I thought I’d give you an update about what is going on so you could make another post on your blog.
“I’m preparing myself for the worst. I’m applying for public assistance, for food stamps and stuff. I don’t have a lot of money. These people put me in a bad light because I did the right thing. The Orthodox Union is letting me hang out there to dry. They’re willing to lie, to say that everything is OK, just to cover their asses.
“I’m contacting more media people. Hopefully they will get this out there very soon. I contacted a couple of people today. They said they were very interested, it was just a matter of timing.
“I’m not going down without a fight. Everyone should know that Montefiore Hospital has big problems and nobody should eat there.
“I offered to take a lie detector test when I was there on Monday. If you don’t believe me, put me on the machine at your expense and we’ll see who’s lying. Their reply? No comment. No offer. Nothing.
“What does that tell you?”
Robert’s wife is talking in the background about his case.
Luke: “What is your lawyer planning?”
Robert: “He’s already planning to sue the Orthodox Union. He filed a complaint [with the New York Human Rights Commission] Monday against the hospital for suspending me. He’ll wait till they terminate me before suing, so we’ll have good grounds. If they pull me back in, he won’t sue.
“The union didn’t come to my defense and say that my supervisor (Barry Kwiatkovsky, the assistant director of the nutrition department in my Weiler division, the one that is supposed to be kosher) has been harassing me. It’s a personal vendetta because I was disabled and I was outspoken on kosher.
“The union knows what is going on. That lady helped me out before but she didn’t do a thing Monday. It wasn’t right. I’m probably going to contact the National Labor Relations board.
“The union is mad that I called them garbage. Do you know why I called them garbage? I didn’t mean the lady representing me. I meant that they don’t help people who are being harassed.
“I know I did the right thing because now people are going to know. On Friday night, after they had suspended me, I went to the synagogue and had the president make an announcement that I was terminated for kosher issues. Everybody in the community knows that there’s a problem.
“I’m getting the word out. Soon everybody in America will have problems with the Orthodox Union for doing this to me.”
I emailed the Orthodox Union and Montefiore Hospital when this story broke. I have not received a reply.
Robert: “Think about it. If there are problems in this place, what about other places? I kept complaining to them that there were problems for years. Every time I made a complaint, I was harassed, retaliated against, written up.”
Robert’s wife repeatedly punctuates his points in the background.
Robert: “They didn’t expect me to go to the media. They were shocked. Now they’ve got media people calling them up all day long. There’s one lady with a major newspaper in New York was calling them up all day today. She called the Orthodox Union. She called the union. Maybe they’ll get a little nervous and back off on me and let me back in. I hope. I’m going to give them a run for their money.
“I’ve got to apply for food stamps Monday. They think that this is a joke. I’ll take advantage of whatever social programs are available. I don’t care. My wife and I will go in there. We’ve done it before. We’re not ashamed. I applied for unemployment insurance the other day.
“I’m under suspension pending final determination of firing. That means I can’t get any money coming in. I’ll only have health benefits for another month.
“They really did me a big injustice because I did the right thing. Knowing there’s a problem. You know those other mashgiachim who wrote on the blog. They’re afraid to speak up. I don’t care anymore. There’s a limit to what I can take. I’m going to spill my guts to everybody. I’ve got big newspapers in New York who are going to be writing the story soon. They’re just finishing up the report.
“A friend of mine the other night felt so bad for me, he sent me over $180 worth of food, enough to last us two weeks. Chickens and cold cuts and coleslaw and knishes.
“The problem is that the mainstream Orthodox Judaism is afraid to go against the Orthodox Union. They think they can do no wrong. Look at all the stuff that goes on, child molesting in yeshivas, and nobody ever says anything. It’s terrible. Even if I never work in this industry again, I’m going to have everybody think twice before they buy an Orthodox Union certified product.”
His wife screams in the background: “Ninety five percent is OU.”
Robert: “Some products are two or triple certified. They have deals with other companies.”