Atticus Bookstore Cafe on Chapel Street and the local immigrant rights group Unidad Latina en Acción have reached a resolution after over a year of protests and boycotts over a Latino worker’s firing.
ULA has held protests outside Atticus since early 2016 in response to the termination of Basilio Santiago, who ULA alleges was not fairly compensated after his firing. Atticus denied those claims to the News. But those protests and the boycott ULA encouraged are now over. Two weeks ago, ULA organizer John Lugo and Santiago’s family met with Atticus owner Charlie Negaro Jr. as well as two community mediators to settle the dispute and work together in the future in support of immigrant and workers rights. The details of the agreement are confidential, according to Lugo and Negaro.
“[Lugo] and ULA have done a lot of wonderful things for New Haven,” Negaro said. “We have the same goals for New Haven.”
New Haven resident Paul Hammer SOM ’85, a former volunteer mediator through Community Mediation, Inc., initiated and presided over the meeting between the two groups.
Hammer said he has previously worked with ULA, participating in boycotts and meetings. Additionally, he is friends with Negaro’s father, Charlie Negaro Sr., as they both had children in the same elementary school. Hammer said he did not believe Atticus fit the profile of other employers targeted by ULA for wage theft. He reached out to Lugo and the younger Negaro on Dec. 24 via email to see if they were willing to sit down and discuss their grievances.
Lugo, who worked at Atticus from 1991 to 1995, said the business has a history of supporting immigrant rights in New Haven. He said Charlie Negaro Sr. was particularly helpful in providing support for workers who were detained during Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in New Haven in 2007, and called the mediation a “great tool.”
Lugo said both ULA and Santiago’s family are now ready to move on. He emphasized that it is important for the New Haven community to come together against deportation threats made by the presidential administration.
“This is a time to start working together again because that is a bigger issue that is going to affect us in New Haven,” he said.
Atticus opened its doors in 1976.