Tag Archives: New York

Cold Pizza, Cold Cash


You’ll pay if you don’t pay properly

English: Dominos Pizza in Spring Hill Florida
English: Dominos Pizza in Spring Hill Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey, did you know you could get in trouble for not paying people correctly?  It’s against the law to pay people wrong, and there are consequences for doing so.   We all know this.


Not so much.  Looks like revenge is a dish best served with a cold cash settlement.

The New York Times is reporting that 61 employees at a Domino’s franchise in New York will share in a $1.28 million dollar settlement.

What did they allegedly do wrong?

  • pay properly for all hours worked
  • pay the required minimum wage
  • pay overtime properly
  • give required breaks
  • other assorted violations

The amount of the settlement is significant for an employer running 4 stores in Manhattan, reminding us yet again of the usual cautionary tale fodder – follow the law, pay your people, treat them fairly.  

Oh yeah, the employer filed bankruptcy while the case was in litigation, claiming they couldn’t afford the potential liability.  More cautionary tale material.

It’s also interesting to note that the case was not litigated by a government compliance agency or a union.  The class action was brought by the Legal Aid Society, which is fairly unusual in such cases.

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Labor Relations Round-up: Fast Food Strike

Employees protest at Burger King, Wendy’s, Domino’s, KFC, McDonald’s  in NYC

English: A selection of value-menu hamburgers ...
English: A selection of value-menu hamburgers from American fast food chains. Clockwise from left to right: McDonald’s McDouble, Burger King Buck Double, Sonic Drive-In Jr. Deluxe Burger, Wendy’s Double Stack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Employees of various fast food chains in New York City engaged in a one day work stoppage, calling for wage increases and improvements in their benefit programs.   This action took place on the heels of the “Black Friday” strike events aimed at Walmart.

Here’s a round-up of news headlines related to the event:

Nation’s Restaurant News:    NYC quick-service workers strike for higher wages, unions

Huffington Post:  Fast-Food Workers’ Strike Over Wages Hits Chain Locations In New York

Grub Street New York: Striking Fast Food Workers Return to Work

NPR:  N.Y. Fast-Food Workers Strike For Better Wages

CNBC:  NYC Fast-Food Workers Strike: ‘Supersize Our Wages,’ They Demand

MSNBC:  New York’s fast food workers strike. Why now?

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Did you miss me?

I was on vacation

Sunburn (Photo credit: mvndrvrt)

Sorry about that, folks.  I left town (and the blog) with little or no explanation last week.  I was lured away by the invitation to take a last minute vacation with my wife.  Nobody would say no to that!  The one rule was that we were both turning off our computers and phones.

Painful, but we accomplished about 90% of the objective.

We spent a couple of days at the beach, and then a couple more days touring Savannah, Georgia.   We took our dogs, and stayed in pretty friendly places along the way.  We had a blast.

  Vacation gone to the dogs

Believe it or not, this was the first time we have taken the dogs on vacation, despite having had them for twelve years. They rocked the trip.  Putting the trip together took a little planning, but you can find anything on the Internet.

I made all the hotel arrangements using a website called Bring Fido.  What a great niche idea for a web business!  I found two excellent location that were indeed very open to serving the needs of travelers with pets.

@Merry at the beach #petfriendly
@Merry at the beach #petfriendly (Photo credit: mvndrvrt)

The beach portion of our trip was in Crescent Beach, Florida where we stayed in a private, fully furnished condo at a a place called Beacher’s Lodge.  Great place with easy beach access, a nearly empty pool and restaurants nearby.   Our king size condo rented for $149 a night.  There was also a non-refundable pet fee covering cleaning of $50 a day.

In Savannah, we stayed at the Galloway House, a meticulously  refurbished historical Victorian home that Keith Galloway and Jim Klotz have converted into a spectacular bed and breakfast property.  Kyle and I stayed in a third floor one bedroom apartment unit, along with Merry and Cairo.  We had a great time.

Description unavailable
Description unavailable (Photo credit: mvndrvrt)

When at the seashore, eat some shrimp

I ate shrimp every day, including an excellent mean at the  17Hundred90 restaurant, allegedly one of the most haunted locations in Savannah.  Try the blackened shrimp.

I also had an excellent shrimp Po’Boy sandwich in St. Augustine.

The culminating meal was a meal we prepared ourselves in the kitchen at the Galloway House.  We drove out to Tybee Island and purchased two pounds of fresh shrimp right off a shrimp boat, and did a low country boil at home.  It went down really well.

Companies give vacation benefits for a reason. Don’t waste the benefit, even if you just go stay somewhere different for a few days.  You will feel recharged, and your employer will benefit as well.




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Social tools for tracking your employees

Image representing Yammer as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Cool or creepy?

Earlier this year, my buddy Mike Haberman wrote about the risks of tracking your employees via GPS.

Trucking and delivery companies have been using these types of fleet tracking systems for years.  Websites like Guru that allow you to hire freelancers now offer tools that allow to track their virtual work via a dashboard based tool.

Technology allows us to track work, but we may be on the cusp of a new wave of technological tracking innovation for the workplace.

Researchers at the University Of Rochester in New York recently announced that they were able to utilize data from Twitter to predict flu outbreaks with a high degree of accuracy.   The day when employers will be able to use social media conversations to predict when you are thinking of taking a sick day can’t be far off.

Today on Mashable, there was a very interesting story detailing how companies will soon be able to use tools like Yammer to track morale.

Bosses who want help gauging employees’ morale can now turn to Microsoft’s workplace social network, Yammer. A new feature offers managers a kind of emotional surveillance system, showing which feelings workers are expressing in messages posted to a company’s Yammer network.

Bosses who want help gauging employees’ morale can now turn to Microsoft’s workplace social network, Yammer. A new feature offers managers a kind of emotional surveillance system, showing which feelings workers are expressing in messages posted to a company’s Yammer network.

The feature, called Crane, was developed by startup Kanjoya, which makes software that does the emotion recognition and logging, with close collaboration with Yammer. Once the feature is switched on for a company’s Yammer network, it offers managers a view of the “trending emotions” within a company, using a line graph to show the level of excitement, confusion and other feelings over time.

The topics or words most often associated with those feelings are also shown. The software is able to identify 80 distinct emotions, but it condenses those into 15 for display and shows only the most prevalent ones to reduce the complexity of the interface.

How long can it be until we see a decision saying that an employer used their internal social networking system to illegally interfere with the ability of employees to engage in protected concerted activity?





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Micro-breweries are fun. Micro bargaining units – meh

Smaller isn’t always better

Shoes in a shop
Shoes in a shop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Micro-breweries are great.  We have a couple of great ones here in the Tampa area that you should check out if you are ever in the area – Ybor City Brewing Company and the Dunedin Brewery.  That’s the fun part of this post.

Here’s the rest, which is not so fun.

More than a year ago, I wrote about  the possibility that  businesses would start to see the recognition of something called “Micro Unions” in the workplace.

About now, you’re probably saying  something like “What the hell’s a micro union”?”

It’s this, as excerpted from the Daily Caller:

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the mediation agency charged with interpreting and maintaining the fairness of unionizing efforts nationwide, will soon decide whether or not labor unions can break off different sections of workforces into small groups to organize five or 10 workers at a time instead of the entire workplace at once – or organize using “micro unions.

The “micro unions” would essentially allow labor organizers to section off company employees by specific job descriptions. For example, if a union were trying to organize a restaurant staff, leaders would target servers,  dishwashers, cooks and hostesses separately.

This is happening now.  Earlier this month, the NLRB told Neiman Marcus that their argument that a sub-unit of people in one of their stores in New York would be subject to a union election.

This is the unit that he NLRB determined was right:

INCLUDED: All full-time and regular part-time women’s shoes associates in the 2nd Floor Designer Shoes Department and in the 5th Floor Contemporary Shoes Department employed in the Employer’s retail store located at 754 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York.

Not just the shoe department, but the women’s shoe department – located on the 2nd and 5th floors.  Wow.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.


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Getting social with my airlines

Experiences with KLM and Delta

I tried to use the “Meet and Seat” social media feature on a KLM flight this week.  I was very excited over a silly thing, since they just opened it up to most US connected flights this week.

It didn’t work.

I posted a query on Facebook to KLM.   A nice guy named Rick responded a couple of days ago, but it still wouldn’t work.  Rick asked me to take a screenshot and sent my issue on to KLM tech support.   He just sent me this follow-up on Facebook.

We received an update from the technical department and they informed us that the problem is caused by the fact that the check-in was activated. It is not possible to show the seatmap and select a seat in “Manage My Booking” when the check-in is opened.

They will request not to show the Meet & Seat banner when the selection is not possible in “Manage My Booking”.

Thank you for your interest in this new feature “Meet & Seat”. We really appreciate that you bring this to our attention.

Kind regards,
KLM Facebook Team

I sent a tweet question to @DeltaAssist this morning. I’m still waiting to hear from them on  why they won;t let me spend more money with them.

Glad I could help you solve  a problem, KLM.  Still bummed it didn’t work.

I’m going on vacation now.  Bye!


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A CEO and a Union

Price Chopper logo
Image via Wikipedia

Price Chopper CEO talks about unions

The message below was sent by Neil M. Golub, president and chief executive officer of Golub Corp., owner of Price Chopper, to all employees in his company, discussing his view on unions.   He sent the memo in response to a developing organizing campaign taking place in upstate New York.    This is an interesting example of communication to your workforce on a topic that doesn’t come up that often.

The last time I wrote about Price Chopper , it was  due to a social media situation in which they were on the wrong end of a tweet gone bad.   I also wrote about them here.

Communicating the company position

The UFCW is sending teams of organizers into many of our stores in an attempt to disrupt our business and entice you to sign union authorization cards and join their ranks.  PLEASE BE ON YOUR GUARD. That card is a legal document and by signing it you could be giving away some of your rights and appointing the UFCW to represent you.

Due to the fact that several unionized supermarkets have gone out of business (i.e. P&C), the UFCW is desperate for new members. They need dues income to replace what was lost and are hoping to get it from you. You may hear many claims from UFCW representatives that they will get you more money, better benefits and different work rules — whatever they think you want to hear in order to get your signature on a card. The truth is, the union can promise you anything but can guarantee you nothing.

We firmly believe that this union is not in your best interest or the best interest of Price Chopper. We are a family company and have a 78 year history of working out issues together without outside interference, aggravation, or additional cost to you. All we ask is that you look past the union’s sales pitch and get the real facts about unionization.

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Who is the bad apple in a labor strike?

Strike breakers, Chicago Tribune strike, 1986,...
Image via Wikipedia

Nobody wins in a strike – no matter what the spin doctors say

Collective bargaining is a complex and often misunderstood process, equal parts economics and politics, theater and conflict resolution.

In Williamson, New York, nearly 300 hundred workers who produce  Mott’s apple sauce products for the Dr. Pepper Snapple group have been on strike since late may.   This work stoppage has received a lot of attention in the press, often being characterized as a battle of the little guy against the greedy corporate CEO.   An article that recently ran in The Nation called “Rotten Apples, Core Values”  gives a good overview of many of the issues, although it is has a definite bias towards the labor side of the conflict.

It is easy to romanticize a strike as a David vs. Goliath situation, or as the little people standing up for themselves by “fighting the  man”.  This plays well for sounds bites,  politicians, and the media.   The truth is that the potential damage of this type of work stoppage is much more far-reaching, and much less romantic for all those involved, than the sound bites reported by the media make it seem.

here are some of the potential ways in which a work stoppage impacts a community.

  • Striking workers lose their income, their benefits, and possibly even their jobs if the strike stretches on long enough.
  • The company, portrayed as calculating and greedy loses production,  an experienced workforce, customers, and profits.
  • The local community can be thrown into disarray since workers no longer have money to spend, and the company is not buying as many supplies or raw materials.

In Williamson, the economic impact of the Mott’s stike could be very high.  According to Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, more than 20 percent of apples in New York   are purchased by Mott’s, and 160 of the 700 growers sell to the company.    “Right now there’s tremendous concern that we’re going to be in trouble in the fall,” Allen said. “If the plant was not to operate, there would be a $100 million loss to the area in a heartbeat.” (from the Nation)

The point here is that no one, not even a completely greed driven company enters this type of a situation lightly.  A lot of time and thought, and a great deal of planning goes into preparing for collective bargaining.  Strike contingency planning is just one piece of this process.  I have created 40 or 5o such plans, and never had to use one.

It is not cheap to operate a plant through a strike, even when you are hiring replacement workers like Mott’s is doing.  Many extra costs are incurred during a strike situation, including extra security, the added costs of hiring and training replacement workers, and the real costs of lost productivity.  There are also the intangible but real costs of bad publicity, brand damage, and the loss of customer good will.  I am not defending Mott’s here,  just pointing out that they are spending a lot of money on this situation as well, and are incurring a lot of risk of their own.

A behind the scenes look at collective bargaining

Starting next week, I am going to write a series of posts offering a behind the scenes look at what happens both at and away from the table during collective bargaining.   For starters, here is a look at the chronology of how Mott’s and their union came to be locked into a serious and debilitating strike, adapted from the Nation article:

  • Mott’s opening proposal:   $3 per hour wage cuts across the board, eliminating the pension for new employees, reducing the employer match on the 401(k) from 5 percent to 4 percent, and instituting a health care plan with higher co-pays and premiums. In addition, it would have allowed the company to shift workers through titles and wage scales from day to day.
  • Through 22 bargaining sessions, Mott’s held firm on its proposals until days before the April 15 expiration date of the contract, when DPS said that if the union accepted new terms by the expiration date, it would cut benefits but leave wages untouched. If the union didn’t, the company would declare an impasse and implement a wage reduction of $1.50 per hour.
  • The union didn’t accept the offer, voting overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if no agreement could be reached.
  • DPS then made one final pitch: if the union changed its proposal to a wage freeze and benefit cuts for the three-year contract, DPS would   settle because it would have shifted the blame for  the diminished contract onto the union.
  • Local 220 walked out, and after its last offer—leaving benefits untouched but accepting a three-year wage freeze, plus a signing bonus—was rejected by DPS on May 21, the union began its strike at 6 am on May 23.

What is your take on this strike – good business or corporate greed?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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How social media can be used to damage your brand

Labor Relations 2.0 – Old tactics with a new twist

Here is a pictorial review of how employee relations issues can wind up affecting your brand, and lead to potential lasting brand damage   The driving force behind this campaign is a work stoppage aimed at the Mott’s division of  the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group by a RWDSU local in New York.

Here are a series of images being utilized by the labor to generate support for their cause, and to bring focus to the Mott’s brand as part of this dispute.   Obviously, the intent is to place stress on the Mott’s brand in an effort to get them to alter their current position in the on-going labor negotiations.

Mott’s Snapple Facts

From Drop Box

“What you can do”

Instructions from the website No Bad Apples on how to participate in these efforts.

Show Your Support on Facebook

This image was intended to be uploaded to the Mott’s corporate FaceBook page, along with a note indicating your support of the striking workers.  According to reports from various sources, Mott’s has reacted by removing the postings and disabling the ability to upload images to their page.

From Drop Box

Tagging Mott’s Products

These images show instructions on how to download labels from the union website, and use them to go into stores and place labels on Mott’s products.  The company has responded to this tactic by filing a lawsuit against the union for trademark violations and potential dilution of their brand.

From Drop Box
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