21 May 2013 Leave a Comment
18 May 2013 6 Comments
I’ve been pretty busy at work lately, so I haven’t been able to check my Twitter account as often as I’ve done in the past, so I don’t know if what I’m about to report happened recently or a little while ago, but today I was scrolling down my feed and I noticed a distinct absence of tweets from No 7‑Eleven NYC. “That’s odd,” I thought. “Have there been no robberies at 7‑Elevens in the Southwest lately?”
So I went to their home page, and the Follow button was active, instead of the Following button that I was accustomed to seeing. That’s odd, I thought, so I clicked it.
Well, blow me down! They’re blocking Quilas from receiving their tweets!
OK, no big deal. I can always go to their home page. I saw one thread I was interested in, and clicked , and got this:
Apparently they’ve never heard the adage “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” They’re not my enemies, but if you follow this blog, you know we don’t agree on some things. Still, you would think that they’d want to know what I was saying on Twitter, if it had anything to do with them, no? Presumably, they won’t receive tweets of mine with their address in it . How do you run damage control when you don’t know what’s going on?
18 May 2013 10 Comments
in Other Blogs, Working, New York City Tags: lower east side, east village, department of labor, irs, 7-eleven, no 7-eleven nyc, small business, workers, minimum wage, waiters, save the lower east side, full-time equivalent, fresh&co
UPDATED 5/21/13 – 9:22PM
I completely reject the arguments made in the comments section. I did not need authorization to write this piece.
Nevertheless, as a gesture of good will, I will redact the name of the company that was used in the example.
UPDATED 5/18/13 – 10:06PM
I posted the original version of this piece in the morning of May 18. In the previous version, I based my [Company Name Redacted] figures on shifts of 6.5 hours each (13 hours/day ÷ 2). After I received the comment below, I rewrote it using the new information.
There is a blog called Save the Lower East Side (SLES), where one of the most nonsensical contributions to the Great 7‑Eleven Debate can be found. This blog is maintained by someone whom many of you will remember as employing questionable copying/pasting practices, described in Trouble in the “East Village”.
According to SLES, [Company Name Redacted]:
… employs 6 persons per weekday shift, 2 shifts, 10 people per shift weekends; total: 21 full time equivalent positions, all behind the counter (no waiters/tips) all $10/hr. The store is only half the size of a 7‑Eleven which employs only 7-10 positions per store, so [Company Name Redacted] employs 4 to 6 times (!) as many people as 7‑Eleven, and all at a higher payscale (I asked the guys behind the counter themselves, so it’s not management BS).
[Company Name Redacted] is open from 7am-8pm, seven days per week.
[Company Name Redacted] shifts are 8-hours each. It includes clean up after hours and a three-hour overlap during the day.
Let me just say, they could have saved me a lot of time if they had provided this information in their initial post. It’s not like I have nothing better to do than rewrite a piece that took two days to complete!
So does the clean-up time make it a 9-hour, paid shift, or is it uncompensated? Is it reasonable to assume there’s a set-up hour too? I assume the length of time for set-up/clean-up is 1 hour; how long would it take 6 people to clean up anyway?
I also need to point out that SLES is not calculating Full-Time Equivalencies (FTEs) correctly. An FTE is calculated by dividing the number of total hours worked by the maximum number of compensable hours in a full-time schedule. The scale ranges between 0 and 1. A person who works 40 hours in a 40-hour week has an FTE of 1.0; a person who works 20 hours has an FTE of 0.5. So whatever this 21 figure is, it’s not an FTE.
So again, let’s see if we can figure this out. [Company Name Redacted]:
|Mon-Fri, Shift 1||6||x||8||x||5||=||240|
|Mon-Fri, Shift 2||6||x||8||x||5||=||240|
|Sat-Sun, Shift 1||10||x||8||x||2||=||160|
|Sat-Sun, Shift 2||10||x||8||x||2||=||160|
Since we don’t know yet how many people will be working at 7‑Eleven, I’ll use their 7–10 worker range:
|Sun-Sat, 3 Shifts||7||x||8||x||7||=||392|
|Sun-Sat, 3 Shifts||10||x||8||x||7||=||560|
But how do the two companies compare from the workers’ point of view, since that’s what this exercise is all about?
|Total Weekly Wages|
|[Company Name Redacted]||800||x||$10.00||=||$8,000.00|
|7-Eleven, 7 Workers||392||x||$8.44||=||$3,308.48|
|7-Eleven, 10 Workers||560||x||$8.44||=||$4,726.40|
|Location||Total Weekly Wages||Number
Weekly Wage Per
|[Company Name Redacted]||$8,000.00||÷||32||=||$250.00||7-Eleven, 7 Workers||$3,308.48||÷||7||=||$472.64|
|7-Eleven, 10 Workers||$4,726.40||÷||10||=||$472.64|
So a worker at 7‑Eleven averages $472.64 per week and a worker at [Company Name Redacted] averages $250.00.
I’m sure there are some at [Company Name Redacted] who work more than the average of 25 hours and make more than the average amount of money, but for every dollar more one person makes, another makes less, all else being equal. This is assuming the figures SLES provided on the number of workers is accurate! I don’t want to have to re-write this again!
[Company Name Redacted] puts more money into the wage pool, paying $8,000/week, compared with $3,308.48 or $4,726.40 per week for 7‑Eleven, but is this sustainable? Time will tell.
Now for Fresh&Co.:
I also looked at Fresh&Co, which is about the size of a 711: 20 people per shift, 2 shifts, including weekends, all behind-the-counter (no waiter/tips) and well over minimum wage (except the delivery guys — they get tips so the law exempts them from the minimum wage, like waiters). Total: 56 full time equivalnt positions, not counting delivery staff. It employs 5-8 times (!!) as a 7-Eleven.
First of all, Fresh&Co is a chain! They have five locations, with three more opening soon. What next, comparing 7‑Eleven to Chase?! Secondly, delivery guys and waiters are not exempt from the minimum wage, their employers are exempt from paying the regular minimum wage. But waiters and delivery guys are supposed to be paid a minimum wage of $5.00/hour. Frequently, they’re not.
Back to Fresh&Co. Since I don’t know what “well over minimum wage” is, then I can’t test SLES’s figures, but I know that 56 FTEs is still meaningless. If Fresh&Co has more workers at a higher rate, then good for them! Again, I never said 7‑Eleven was the best place to work. But in all their efforts to demonstrate how bad 7‑Eleven is, they finally had to compare it to another chain store before succeeding!
7-Eleven is actually one of the worst franchises from a labor/employment point of view.
That very well may be, but SLES has yet to demonstrated it. And it’s better, from the workers’ point of view, than anything they’ve offered in its place.
There is one possibility that I just now thought of, which is that “21 full-time equivalent positions” could mean 21 actual workers. Given SLES’s history of obfuscation on this matter, I would not be surprised. So I’ll suggest one more possibility:
|Location||Total Weekly Wages||Number
Weekly Wage Per
|[Company Name Redacted]||$8,000.00||÷||21||=||$380.95|
It’s still less than 7-Eleven.
One more thing: why were they not so forthcoming back when we were discussing bodegas? Where was their concern then, for the number of workers and their pay? What are their priorities?
16 May 2013 1 Comment
in Gentrification, New York City, Quilas Tags: lower east side, east village, new york city, 7-eleven, no 7-eleven nyc, real estate, manhattan, luxury listings nyc, the real deal, hamptons, north fork, drones, bon jovi, petit-bourgeois
First, let me say I was very disappointed that the current issue of Luxury Listings NYC was not delivered to my door, as the past two were. Instead, a stack of them was left in front of the mailboxes in the lobby, wrapped in a rubber band. I didn’t even find the one with our name on it, just two addressed to others in the building. I’m going to contact The Real Deal, which publishes Luxury Listings NYC, and bring this to their attention.
I don’t need the paper copy for my purposes, though. The online version is better for making screen shots. Still, I want it in front of my door.
For those who didn’t read my last installment, or for those who want to be reminded: Luxury Listings NYC promotes every neighborhood-commodity in Manhattan below 110th Street: Upper East Side; Upper West Side; Midtown; Gramercy; Chelsea; Greenwich Village; Soho; Tribeca; Lower East Side; and Financial District. Every section has a “Celeb real estate in the neighborhood” listing too, telling which celebrities live in that neighborhood! (Who doesn’t want to live near celebrities?!) And as it is almost Summer, this issue has a section on the Hamptons and the North Fork of Long Island. I don’t have any screen shots of those though because, frankly, they just weren’t that interesting. The next issue, which I expect to see in front of my door in July, will certainly report on the
merry-making decadence going on there, and I might comment then.
So, let’s get on with this!
I said something very similar to this just the other day. “$100 million is the new black,” I said. Really.
Silly Luxury Listings NYC. It’s not supply and demand, it’s 7-Eleven! (But really, it’s not supply and demand. That doesn’t explain anything.)
It’s beyond human control. This is what they’d have people believe. It’s an immutable law of physics. Supply and demand is the new black hole.
Anything they want to inure us to?
You might find them scary too, but relax!
Certainly not! Privilege is privilege! It doesn’t stop when you come home.
Here’s a look at some of the places for sale.
Too much white.
Too much purple.
Who lives here, a monk? Do these people not own a single book? This place is crying out for something to be dropped on the floor.
It looks like Quilas, no?
OK, finally we get to my neighborhood. There’s really only one thing to report, and it’s a doozy! Check this out:
Two groups?! Does Luxury Listings NYC employ fact checkers? Do they think Quilas is some kind of petit-bourgeois outfit, too? I can’t have been doing my job very well, if that’s that case. I have to contact The Real Deal about this (separately from my request to resume delivering my copy of the magazine to my door).
Finally, I leave you with a song:
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot
$42 million is the old black!
13 May 2013 Leave a Comment
In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Traditionally, suicide prevention efforts have been focused mostly on youths and older adults, but recent evidence suggests that there have been substantial increases in suicide rates among middle-aged adults in the United States. … [T]he annual, age-adjusted suicide rate among persons aged 35–64 years increased 28.4%, from 13.7 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 17.6 in 2010. Among racial/ethnic populations, the greatest increases were observed among American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) (65.2%, from 11.2 to 18.5) and whites (40.4%, from 15.9 to 22.3). … The findings underscore the need for suicide preventive measures directed toward middle-aged populations.
10 May 2013 1 Comment
Well, either you’re closing your eyes
To a situation you do not wish to acknowledge
Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
By the presence of Stalin in your community.
One thing I came to realize in my exchanges with N7E is that we got trouble, my friend, right here, I say, trouble right here in the “East Village” and that begins with S and that stands for Stalin!
From a comment to Restaurants:
From a comment to a post on EV Grieve:
Unrelated to the Red Menace, take a look below at something I noticed. The first of these is dated 4/28, and was received as a comment to Restaurants (second excerpt above). The second one was posted the very next day on a blog called “Save The Lower East Side”. The first was posted by “Bob,” the second by “Rob.”
In order to spare you having to read these, I’ll just tell you that the areas marked in yellow are identical in their wording, with some variation in punctuation.
Now if these were talking points of the organization, that would be one thing. But this goes beyond talking points. Do they really both have a Maoist friend who voted for Giuliani? OK, it’s possible. But would they really both tell the story of his/her voting using precisely the same words? That’s very hard to believe. It seems more likely that “Rob” is plagiarizing “Bob”.
10 May 2013 Leave a Comment
in Gentrification, Other Blogs, Working, New York City Tags: lower east side, east village, new york city, 7-eleven, bodegas, no 7-eleven nyc, undocumented workers, restaurants, chefs, head cooks, bls, bureau of labor statistics
When discussions take place across separate blogs, and in the Comments sections of even different blogs, the focus begins to blur. Early on, I maintained that, as opposed to a bodega, a 7‑Eleven moving into the vacant space at Avenue A and 11th Street would raise the income of the neighborhood, against the assertion that 7‑Eleven would: 1) reduce the number of jobs; and 2) lower income in the neighborhood via the requirement that part of the profits be sent to the corporate headquarters. I believe I defended this position adequately at The Local Economy?.
Since that time, the conversation has shifted. This is a recent post from the leader of N7E (click on the image if you want to read the entire screed):
There appear to be two assertions here — only one of them is direct:
“…replacing a 7‑Eleven with a restaurant in NYC would improve the wage prospects of immigrant workers, documented as well as undocumented.” But the inclusion of wage statistics just before that indicates that they’re making the argument that wages in a restaurant would be higher (for the cook, in any case) than for clerks in a 7‑Eleven, and that a restaurant is, therefore, preferable.
There really isn’t anything to say about “improve the wage prospects of” except that it does not follow from “Mean average for a cooks wage…” just before it. You find this all through their literature. And it’s ambiguous. “[I]mprove the job prospects of” makes more sense. They may be right that it lowers the “wage prospects” of undocumented workers, but they’re going to have to tell us exactly how many people they’re talking about. Are they ready to claim that X number of jobs at less than minimum wage, with employer threats of deportation, are preferable to a similar number of jobs at ≥ minimum wage, with the increased opportunity to organize a union? (I’m going to deal with the topic of organizing in a future post. For now, let this suffice as an example of what 7-Eleven workers can do. I’ve also maintained that, as a large company, 7-Eleven is susceptible to pressure from outside its workforce.)
Now, to the money question. To begin with, why would they cite the mean, average wage for cooks across the country after reading what I posted in Restaurants, which examines the pay of restaurant workers in New York City? Hmmm? Maybe they just skimmed it, and thought “Look, numbers. We should get some numbers too.”
The problem with the BLS figures they cite2 is that they’re not accurate hourly rates. Many are extrapolated from flat rates divided into hours scheduled per week. Others are determined by taking the mean, average annual income (e.g., $23,300), dividing it by 52 weeks, then dividing that by 40 hours, as if cooks worked eight hours a day, five days per week. As already established:
$23,300 ÷ 52 weeks ÷ 6 days ÷ 12 hours = $6.22/hour.
÷ 10 hours = $7.47/hour.
÷ 8 hours = $9.33/hour.
As we narrow the discussion to increasingly-specific details, like the hourly rate of a cook in a hypothetical restaurant, it becomes more difficult to generalize. A 7‑Eleven at that location that hires ten people instead of seven, or a restaurant that employs a chef instead of a regular cook, limits the inferences we can make. But there are a couple of observations that can be made with certainty: there is no evidence that a restaurant would be significantly better than a 7‑Eleven for either total number of people hired or total wage receipts; and everyone who works at the 7‑Eleven will be paid at least minimum wage, while many of those who work at the restaurant will not be. It’s nothing to write home about, but this discussion has never been about why 7‑Eleven is good, just about why it’s less bad.
Finally, almost as an aside, I will address this last claim:
“The majority (66 percent) of low-wage workers are not employed by small businesses, but rather by large corporations.”3
I have no doubt that this is true, but it’s completely irrelevant to the discussion! (You find this all through their literature.)
It’s funny they should refer to this report. If they had bothered to turn to page 2, they’d have seen the following:
Oh well. This isn’t their forte, after all.
05 May 2013 9 Comments
A little over a week ago — April 25, to be precise — I was checking my stats, out of idle curiosity mostly, when I noticed a spike in connections. I looked at the referring links, and they were from The Local East Village, a supplementary blog of the New York Times. I had to see what was leading them to me, so I clicked on the link.
Plods? I suppose that’s accurate. The responses I’ve been getting from N7E have been laborious!
But this time, the link garnered more connections. I was waiting for them to tweet the story so I could re-tweet it, since they always tweeted every story of theirs, but it never came. They must not have wanted to promote it. Who can say? I was too busy at work to write my own tweet, so I just let it go.
And then it happened, and on May Day, no less:
The Local is no more! They linked to Quilas, and they bit the dust.
They’re keeping the site on-line, though, at least for now. After all, N7E is still posting to their Comments section!
While writing this piece, I checked The Local‘s twitter page, to see if they ever did tweet the link to “…Plods On”. Here is what I found:
Their twitter page is gone! Vanished! As if it had never existed. So, unlike the blog itself, if you want a reference to past The Local tweets, for whatever historical research you might be conducting, it’s not there. Not on Twitter, anyway. You might be able to get it from the NSA, if you file a FOIA request, but I suspect any reference to Quilas will be redacted!
27 Apr 2013 5 Comments
I discovered something this week: my geographical readership status is updated not only weekly and monthly, but quarterly as well. Which means Quilas is one quarter of a year old! I might switch to quarterly status updates, going forward. I have to think about it.
Anyway, with no further ado, here is: State of the Quilas!
This week’s International Readership update probably looks similar to that of two weeks ago, but it’s not. Mexico and the United Kingdom were added this past week. Oh yes, and this is a quarterly map!
Now, onto the best of this week’s spam! You will notice that between April 24th and 26, the ability to rate spam messages was removed. I wonder why.
I know what you’re thinking: That’s not spam, it’s fan mail! But no, the site it links to has this in the Bio: “Delicately, softly, catchy moving moving company house removals moving company removal company movers move removal company”.
It’s for a moving company.
So says the I Ching.
Why, thank you! Feel free to comment any time.
Yes. Yes it will.
This comes from a comment I made elsewhere:
Thanks for reading! You misspelled ‘shmnyc’.
That wasn’t me. You misspelled ‘shmnyc’ again.
Here’s another old one I found.
Sorry about the short attention span, Anonymous.
Thus ends another Quilas roundup. Until next time!
27 Apr 2013 3 Comments
in Food, New York City, Working Tags: back of the house, barbacks, baristas, bartenders, bussers, chefs, counter attendants, discrimination, dishwashers, employer taxes, fast food cooks, food chain workers, food prep workers, front of the house, head cooks, hostesses, hosts, illegal deductions, intermediaries, managers, meal breaks, non-restaurant servers, osha, retaliation, right to organize, roc united, short order cooks, supervisors, waiters, waitresses, workers compensation, workplace violations
Six of the ten lowest-paying jobs in the country are in restaurants:1
- Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers
- Fast Food Cooks
- Counter Attendants, Cafeteria, Food Concession, and Coffee Shop
- Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurants, Lounge and Coffee Shop
- Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender Helpers
Employment Numbers for the Restaurant Industry in New York City2
|Job Classification||Number Employed||Percentage|
|Short Order Cooks||5,440||1.267|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||11,750||2.736|
|Fast Food Cooks||12,630||2.940|
|Hosts and Hostesses||14,310||3.332|
|Bussers and Barbacks||21,450||4.994|
|Counter Attendants and Baristas||30,320||7.059|
|Supervisors and Managers||37,300||8.684|
|Food Prep Workers||50,130||11.671|
|Waiters and Waitresses||124,740||29.041|
INDUSTRY SEGMENTS WHERE WORKPLACE VIOLATIONS ARE COMMON
Violations reported in all industry segments, but appear to be concentrated in
(1) expensive “white table cloth” restaurants and (2) independent family-style restaurants, including ethnic restaurants. Fast food and chain and franchise restaurants appear to have fewer violations.
THE JOBS WHERE WORKPLACE VIOLATIONS ARE COMMON
“Back of the house” restaurant jobs: Dishwashers, delivery persons, food prep, line cooks, and porters.
“Front of the house” restaurant jobs: Bussers, runners, bathroom attendants, barbacks, cashiers, counter persons and coat checkers (and in some restaurants, waiters, waitresses and hosts).
Back of the house jobs:
- Dishwasher: $180 – $300 per week.
- Delivery person: $120 – $200 per week.
- Line cook/food prep: $250 – $400 per week.
Front of the house jobs:
- Busser/barback: $150 – $200 per week including tips.
- Runner: $120 – $180 per week (rush hours only, usually paid as
percentage of tips).
- Coat check & bathroom attendants: $20 – $80 a night.
- Cashiers/counter persons: $222 – $320 per week.
- Waiters/waitresses: $300 – $480 per week including tips.
On average, kitchen staff tend to work 6 days a week, between 8 and 12 hours a day, with some dishwashers and cooks working double shifts. In the front of the restaurant, bussers and runners work the same hours as kitchen staff. Wait staff tend to work 3–5 days per week (hours can range from 20–45 per week).
Dishwashers, runners, bussers, and delivery persons tend to be off the books, while servers, bartenders and managerial jobs are more likely to be on the books. High-end and chain restaurants have the majority of their sales on credit cards, which can force more jobs to be on the books.
Health benefits are generally not offered to front-line staff; when offered, the employee co–pay is usually high, resulting in low take-up rates. In the kitchen, workers may get one week unpaid vacation, but no sick days.
High representation of undocumented immigrants in back of the house jobs (as well as some lower-wage jobs in the front). But long tenures in the industry mean that there are also significant numbers of documented immigrants.
INTERMEDIARIES PLACING WORKERS IN UNREGULATED JOBS
(1) Employment agencies for immigrant workers and (2) much less frequently, non-profit public agencies for people transitioning off welfare or out of prison. At employment agencies, placement fees range from $50 up to a weeks’ earnings, paid by the worker, plus possibly an additional $25 application fee. Some employment agencies specialize in restaurant placements for Mexican workers.
COMMON WORKPLACE VIOLATIONS
Minimum wage and overtime
- Minimum wage: The industry’s pay structure of flat weekly wages for more than full-time work suggests that minimum wage violations are common. For example, typical earnings of $300 per week for 60 hours translates into an hourly wage of $5 (without considering time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours). Coat checkers and delivery persons can make as low as $3 an hour.
- Overtime: Non-payment of overtime appears common for almost all positions.
- Tips: For tipped positions, common violations include being paid only in tips, or the employer taking a percentage of tips. Bussers often do not get tips owed them.
Non-payment of wages
Occurs mainly for kitchen jobs, especially dishwashers. Can take the form of full non-payment, partial non-payment, or several months backlog of payment.
Workers report employers deducting arbitrary amounts from wages for broken plates, spoiled food, etc.
Lack of meal breaks, or erratic meal breaks, is a pervasive problem. A single meal break for a 12-hour shift is common.
Restaurants are heavily cash-based, and most workers do not receive pay stubs. Employer taxes are often not paid, or not paid for the actual number of workers on site.
Health & safety violations occur mainly in kitchens: electrical dangers, inadequate fire safety, lack of cutting guards on machines, lack of slip mats, lack of required ventilation.
Rarely offered. Employers may pay a one-time hospital bill out of pocket in order to avoid an official claim, and instruct workers to say that the injury did not occur at work.
Evidence of discrimination in hiring and promotion on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, and accent – particularly for front of the house jobs. Harassment based on national origin and gender.
Retaliation & the right to organize
Employers’ retaliation in response to complaints about working conditions and attempts to organize include threats to call immigration, punishing the worker with bad shifts or bad hours, and outright retaliatory firing.