Saving the Lower East Side?

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, […]:

… 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 […] employs 4 to 6 times (!) as many people as 7‑Eleven, and all at a higher pay scale (I asked the guys behind the counter themselves, so it’s not management BS).

[…] is open from 7am-8pm, seven days per week.

[…] 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. …:

Shift Number of
Workers
Hours/
Shift
Days/
Week
Worker-Hours/
Week
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
____
Total 800

Since we don’t know yet how many people will be working at 7‑Eleven, I’ll use their 7–10 worker range:

Shift Number of
Workers
Hours/
Shift
Days/
Week
Worker-Hours/
Week
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?

Location Worker-Hours/
Week
Hourly
Wage
Total Weekly Wages
[…] 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

Then:

7-Eleven, 7 Workers$3,308.48÷7=$472.64

Location Total Weekly Wages Number
of Workers
Average
Weekly Wage Per
Worker
[…] $8,000.00 ÷ 32 = $250.00
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 […] averages $250.00.

I’m sure there are some at […] 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!

[…] 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
of Workers
Average
Weekly Wage Per
Worker
[…] $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?

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rob
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:20:17

    TS Bagels shifts are 8-hours each. It includes clean up after hours and a three-hour overlap during the day.

    Reply

  2. rob
    May 19, 2013 @ 06:08:27

    Not all the overlaps are identical, no doubt staggered to allow clean up. You might get the exact details from the owner, but I trust employees (and my eyes) more than owner reports. The number of FTE’s should be 20, not 21. It’s easier to calculate if you take the two 6-person FT weekday shifts as 12 FTE’s plus the two weekend shifts as 4/5 of 10 FTE’s (8) = 20 total, some of whom, I was told, earn more that $10/hr, but even $400/week is way better than the 711 scale for its store clercks. (The 21 number might have been a last-minute recalculation from adding a weekend manager, or maybe it was a typo –I no longer remember. In any case, 20 will do just fine.) I do remember being surprised at how many jobs there were, and even more at Fresh. Fresh&Co actually doesn’t qualify as a chain under any existing legal definitions (>11 stores), and remember that No711’s zoning goal is not to eliminate chain stores but to allow the locality to choose– we have always explicitly recognized the usefulness of some chain stores in some locations. Fresh&Co would be a good public health choice especially where there is nothing but fast fried food chains.

    Reply

  3. Chris
    May 19, 2013 @ 19:34:27

    I’m the owner of TSB and many of your statements are factually incorrect. I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t post private information about my business and it’s finances on the internet. It is not something I necessarily would want my competitors or neighboring businesses to know. Further, I find it somewhat disrespectful that you didn’t at least ask my permission first. I’d appreciate it if you removed the posts . Thanks.

    Reply

    • shmnyc
      May 19, 2013 @ 22:32:38

      Chris,

      Hi. The information I have comes from the blog Save The Lower East Side. It is reputed to have come from workers at Tompkins Square Bagels.

      Reply

    • shmnyc
      May 21, 2013 @ 13:24:45

      OK, I have time to deal with this now.

      The purchase of labor power involves two agents: the purchaser, and the seller. No one person “owns” the exchange. The information I have came from the web site of someone who got the information from one of the sellers. No outside authorization is necessary to discuss the conversation, which was already public, or the exchange itself. The calculations are all my own.

      The intention was not to scrutinize TSB (despite appearances — which, in any case, you say the information is wrong), but to examine a model offered as preferable to 7-Eleven, for workers. That is what my piece does.

      Reply

      • rob
        May 21, 2013 @ 19:29:21

        Although ideally I’d like to see all payrolls transparent as public institutions are, until that time I think it unjust to single out a particular business for disclosure unless two conditions hold, conjunctively: 1) that the business conducts illegal or exceptionally egregious exploitation and 2) you want to close the business down. Now I understand that you might detest all businesses and want them all to close, but in the case under consideration the first condition doesn’t hold. There’s no reason to think that this particular business is exceptional, so it’s unjust to single it out. On my blog I simply deleted the info noting that it was unauthorized. You don’t have to go that far — you can blame it on me saying that you’re deleting because the source was incorrect.

        Reply

  4. Chris
    May 19, 2013 @ 19:43:15

    See attached link: PAYROLL INFO IS CONFIDENTIAL
    smallbusiness.chron.com/confidentiality-payroll-information-40356.html

    Reply

  5. rob
    May 19, 2013 @ 20:09:01

    Dear Steven,
    The employment information I published on my blog was unauthorized. I have been told that it is sensitive information so I have deleted it on my blog and I ask the same of you, blogger to blogger.
    Rob, SLES

    Reply

  6. rob
    May 22, 2013 @ 12:37:03

    Questionable copying/pasting? I wrote the piece, but when you refused to publish my comments and then selectively edited out-of-context & published an email I sent you, I asked a friend to post it for me as the only (and entire) way to post a comment to you. Does that answer the question?

    In any case, I thank you for redacting the business owner. Your protest is noted and understood.

    Reply

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