Former Carnegie Deli employees demand their jobs back at protest

Workers at a famous Manhattan deli are in a real pickle after getting laid off at the end of the holiday season.

Thirty-five members of UNITE—HERE Local 100 marched outside Carnegie Deli at 55th St. and Seventh Ave. on Friday — waving picket signs and chanting, “Bring back our deli jobs.”

The diner — famous for its gut-busting sandwiches — told its employees in September that it would close for good at the end of December, according to a spokeswoman for the owner.

But its employees haven’t given up hope on a reprieve.

“We are here (to beg) the owner of the Carnegie to reopen and accept all of the employees that work here to come back to work for her,” said Rachaneeuuan Sriphud, 63, of Queens.

Sriphud, known as Toy to employees and customers at the restaurant, worked as a waitress at Carnegie Deli for 27 years.

“I’ve worked here more than two-thirds of my life, (it’s given) me very good support for my family,” said the mother of two.

Like the other laid-off workers, Sriphud was at a loss to explain the owner’s decision to close the deli.

The owner, Marian Harper-Levine, told workers she couldn’t manage the deli anymore, the waitress said.

“This place is very, very good. People all over the world know it as the world’s most famous deli,” Sriphud said.

“This place runs itself, believe me. I make more money than ever within these last 10 years."

Mohammed Chowdhury, 44, who goes by the moniker Salim to other staff and diners, is a Queens resident and father of two who has been a waiter at the deli since 1999.

“I was very, very heartbroken .... I believe they'll reopen, of course they'll reopen, this is the busiest restaurant in the world," he said.

Chowdhury said he served former President Bill Clinton and boxing legend Muhammad Ali while working at the deli.

He’s so convinced Carnegie Deli will reopen, he’s not even looking for another job, he said.

He sees the closure as a union-busting tactic for new management to step in and take over the profitable business.

“I believe ... they make a plan, take the union out, break the union first, and then they'll reopen — this is my opinion,” he said. “It’s very sad.”

Cristyne Nicholas, a spokeswoman for the deli owner, said Harper-Levine made sure to give employees three months’ notice — and kept the deli running through Christmas because she knew it was their busiest season.

She denied any attempt at union-busting as a motive for the shut down.

“The union contract ... expired on Nov. 30. However, Carnegie Deli management honored the contract beyond its terms for an additional 30 days, operating under the same benefits and agreements which had been in place the previous four years,” she said.

She added that the owner closed the deli on Christmas Day but paid employees anyway so they could enjoy the day at home with their families.

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