Chicago Lake Liquors employees petition for raises; five fired two days later

Categories: Business
hallie wallace chi lake rect.jpg
Snow Arch Films screengrabs (watch the Snow Arch film about Saturday's picketing here)
Wallace (left) argues Chi-Lake management acted illegally in firing her and four coworkers.
At the end of the workday on Saturday, March 30, 13 employees at Chicago Lakes Liquors presented their general manager with a petition asking that all of the 25 or so employees at the store receive raises.

:::: UPDATE :::: Fired Chicago Lake Liquors workers create website soliciting donations

When five of the workers who signed the petition showed up to work two days later, they were fired. According to two of them -- Hallie Wallace and Max Specktor -- four of the five were given no explanation for their termination beyond being told by management that their employment at the store no longer made business sense. Wallace admits she was two hours late on the day she was fired, though she attributed that to a miscommunication about her schedule.

Though workers at Chi-Lake aren't formally unionized, both Wallace, 22, and Specktor, 24, are members of the Industrial Workers of the World (Specktor previously lost his job at the Block E Jimmy John's for his involvement in the failed unionization drive there). Last Saturday night, Wallace and Specktor led a picket action outside the store demanding that the fired workers get their jobs back and management meet their demand for raises.

Wallace and Specktor have already filed a wrongful termination claim with the National Labor Relations Board. They argue the mass firing was a violation of employee rights as spelled out under the National Labor Relations Act, specifically (italics mine):
Activity Outside a Union

Employees who are not represented by a union also have rights under the NLRA. Specifically, the National Labor Relations Board protects the rights of employees to engage in "concerted activity", which is when two or more employees take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment. A single employee may also engage in protected concerted activity if he or she is acting on the authority of other employees, bringing group complaints to the employer's attention, trying to induce group action, or seeking to prepare for group action.

A few examples of protected concerted activities are:

-- Two or more employees addressing their employer about improving their pay.
-- Two or more employees discussing work-related issues beyond pay, such as safety concerns, with each other.
-- An employee speaking to an employer on behalf of one or more co-workers about improving workplace conditions.
The petitioning workers demanded that Chi-Lake management raise the starting wage for workers from $8 to $9 an hour, raise the pay ceiling from $10.50 to $13 an hour, and give all workers a $1-per-hour raise. According to Wallace and Specktor, workers at Chi-Lake start at $8 an hour and receive a 25-cent raise every three months until they hit the $10.50-an-hour ceiling.

Chi-Lake workers engaged in two other recent "concerted activities" prior to the raise petition. A few months ago a number of them banded together to demand holiday pay, but management argued not providing holiday pay is an industry standard and didn't meet that demand. Then, a few weeks ago, a number of workers demanded changes to the way Chi-Lake schedules workers. That request was received more favorably, Wallace and Specktor said.

Asked why they think they deserve raises, Wallace and Specktor pointed to the volume of business the typically bustling Chi-Lake store does and said some of their friends and acquaintances working at other liquor stores make more money. Specktor said he thinks he, Wallace, and three other workers were targeted for termination on April 1 as part of management's effort to "cut off the head of the snake." Workers at Chi-Lake have very little interaction with owner John Wolf, so it's unclear to what extent he was involved in the decision to fire the five workers, Specktor said.

City Pages couldn't reach Chi-Lake management or ownership for comment on Sunday, but Wallace and Specktor said the store's general manager told concerned customers during Saturday night's picket that "all the facts will come out eventually." Wallace and Specktor take that as an indication that management and ownership are ready to argue their case before the Labor Relations Board. Wallace said she hopes they "will come to their senses and give us our jobs back" before then, adding that the mass firing, in her view, was "clearly illegal." She and Specktor plan to continue organizing picket actions outside the store until the fired workers either get their jobs back or have their case heard by the board.

"We aren't going anywhere," Wallace said.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
70 comments
p.lindberg
p.lindberg

Well.....at least there is always McDonalds

speakeroftruth
speakeroftruth

@erikforman   What you lefties don't understand is it you don't like working somewhere you can leave.  You choose to work at a liquor store that underpays that is your own fault.  Take some responsibility for your actions (oh that's right if you did your would be a right-winger)

erikforman
erikforman

Apparently you right-wing keyboard jockeys don't know how to use the Internet. This store makes over $15 million a year in revenue. You think they're paying a lot of rent or property taxes at Chicago and Lake? I doubt it. They have the money to pay a living wage, which is around $13.75/hr. in Minneapolis.

T.S.Moody
T.S.Moody

"As a former employee of Chicago lake liquors I know firsthand how corrupt they are. First, yes, every employee knows what they will start off at when it comes pay. But what you're not hearing is all the extra job duties they add without increasing pay.  For example, when I worked there it was not in my job description to train employees, yet I did so on numerous occasions, without any wage increase. I also, many times, was asked to perform managerial duties, such as checking inventory and directing fellow employees, again without any increase to my wages. Second, they withheld my last raise because, as I was told, "when we have the time for a review we will have it," something that never took place.  Third, I know that one of the general managers had sexual relations with many of the women that worked under him, which I believe is a huge conflict of interest - you who I'm talking about.

 If you used to work there, please come out and say something for the chi lake five. P.s F**K Chicago lake liquors; I shop at McDonalds liquor store because they pay employees decently there, and provide holiday bonuses." 

 - My friend, Jesse Gomez, who worked at Chicago Lake Liquors, recently. (He was unable to post under his own name due to computer issues).

fredflintstoned
fredflintstoned

I used to work at CLL. John Wolf is not 70. He's a young guy who's doing very very well for himself. CLL is doing the same thing that a lot of retail and small businesses do. He keeps all of his staff just below full-time hours so they don't get health insurance. So, this is a larger problem in the United States, not just with CLL. I will say that they keep themselves painfully understaffed. They could definitely do a better job running things. I got the impression that John makes so much money that he doesn't really care how it runs. I've heard they're the most profitable liquor store in the five state area (just what I heard, but they do sell a TON of booze.). A little common sense goes a long way, John Wolf.

Kitty Noodle
Kitty Noodle

Employees don't make the rules. They tell you what they'll pay u before you're hired so take it or leave it. Demanding more is just tyranny.

KilledbyDeath
KilledbyDeath

I want to pay $15 for a Big Mac. So pay them more.

senatortombstone
senatortombstone

Going from $8.00 to $10.50 for 25 employees? Assuming every worker gets 20 hours a week, that would be a $65,000.00 increase in gross wages paid per year, for CLL. This does not include increased payroll taxes and social security, FICA, etc. I don't know what CLL takes in, but these former employees seem to have been asking for quite a bit. Doubtless, CLL did not consider their contributions as employees sufficient to warrant the costs of their demands. Nor did they consider them worth keeping on as staff, which is why they were released from employment. Regardless of what any law says, the employers were well within their rights to fire these employees, whom they considered to be troublesome. This is the right to association. Likewise, these employees had a right to quit, whenever they wanted to, which is what they should have done, if they were not happy with the circumstances of their employment, and if they had better options. I am not saying that $8.00 an hour is a lot - it seems entry level for retail work, but if that is what CLL offers, and if that is what their employees are willing to work for, then who can say it is too little, immoral, or unconscionable? Two parties agreed to it, and it should be left at that. Also, retail work is almost always entry level and unskilled. These are supposed to the first jobs for teens, summer jobs for college students, second jobs for extra income, or a little work to keep the retired from boredom. These are not jobs meant to support a family. I can never understand how some people feel that every job in existence must pay enough to support a single mother and three children, and cover health benefits.

juanconatz
juanconatz

To the few retail workers who have come on here admonishing the workers demands because they make more than you...well, you deserve more, too, and I bet the fired workers would be the first to say this.

keny1
keny1

Attention Sheeple: Here is a quick lesson in Business 101

The goal of any business is to maximize revenue while minimizing costs. This is referred to as Efficiency.

Businesses that are efficient in their operations are most likely to succeed. When a businesses are efficient, they:

1. Retain investors who are happy with their return.

2. Attract new investors which will allow the company to expand

3. Retain talented and efficient employees, and more importantly, hire new employees as the business grows. 

4. Become leaders and role models within their community.

Businesses who cannot control their costs (even if their product or service is successful), will eventually have to reevaluate their business model or simply close their doors. Because labor represents the largest percentage of costs for the vast majority of businesses, it is important that this cost be scrutinized with a close eye. The general rule of thumb for determining labor wages are:

The going market rate for same or similar positions in same or similar operations. 

However, in today's increasingly competitive labor market, using this rule of thumb can be detrimental to business.  If, for example, you have employees whose talent and skills are absolutely essential to the successful continuation and growth of your business, simply paying them the going market rate is not enough. They will leave and go to work for your competitor (who presumably will pay them a higher wage). In this situation, you have no choice to pay them a higher rate than what the market dictates. 

On the other hand, if you have employees who are simply adhering to the status quo of what their basic duties are and not going above and beyond your expectations, they should only be paid the going market rate. No more. No less.

So there you have it, Sparky!

And no, I did not copy and paste this from someone else. This was part of a term paper that I wrote back in 1996 when I was in business school. LOL!


asdf
asdf

"'We aren't going anywhere,' Wallace said."

I am inclined to agree.

J_De_Roeck
J_De_Roeck

This is great to see! The food and retail industries are in desperate need of change and it's only gonna happen by workers standing up for themselves like this. If management is going to answer with retaliation, we need to stand behind the fired workers. 

briannabelland
briannabelland

After reading this, I know better than to ever complain about how "little" I get paid. This person gets paid more than I do, but doesn't have to work as hard. Oh wait, how would I know how hard that person works? And oh yeah, what business is it of mine what any of my co-workers make? I make enough to live comfortably, for me, and I feel blessed to have a job at all. Considering how much excess junk and goodies I buy for myself, pretty regularly, if I want more money, that's my problem.....not my work's. The employees who got let go are obviously gonna suffer financially for this. If they were having money issues before, they're worse now. The employees who decided to stay with Chi-Lake Liquors are gonna continue to get paid. Sorry for the rant, grammatical errors and the me-attitude, but again, feeling guilty about whining like a baby about my how "little" I get paid, only an hour ago.

juanconatz
juanconatz

Everyone in retail deserves more! Go IWW!

DaveB
DaveB

Really? I am a fan of both City Pages and Chicago Lake Liquors, gotta tell you this is not a story, if you think you are not getting paid enough find a new job, how about that? Maybe be responsible enough to get to work on time as well. This is nothing more than a few freeloaders looking for a free ride. They knew the pay structure I am sure when they took the position, doesn't matter how much the store "Makes" if it loses money would they take a reduced pay rate...funny right. That store and it's owner have done nothing but good for the neighbothood and many of their employees, just ask the ones who show up to work on time.

Tracie411
Tracie411

What are they complaining about getting a 25 cent raise every 3 month is great!My boyfriend works for a large local retail store and started making $8.00 Nine months letter still is making $8 they should be grateful. I will tell my boyfriend to go apply for a job @ChiLakeLiquors

Gina Theknife
Gina Theknife

I would want a raise too. Working somewhere that a police officer is present all the time.

Grapenuts262
Grapenuts262

Isn't this the same "union" striking Sister's Camelot for better pay for canvassers WHO SOLICIT DONATIONS FOR THE CHARITY? Trying to extort money from a charity that feeds the hungry? You expect to make a living wage going door-to-door raising money for a non-profit? Seriously?

Jankowiak
Jankowiak

Aaron Rupar, you've clearly never been to law school, but you routinely do 10 minutes of Google research and post your legal opinions as if they're facts.  I think it's irresponsible, and it's no better than someone getting up in arms about their 2nd Amendment rights without actually reading the entire Amendment...not to mention the 200+ years of judicial interpretation.  Please befriend a lawyer and start getting their input.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

I believe Max Specktor is going to have a long hard road ahead of him. Once word gets around about his involvement with http://www.iww.org/ and the strike attempt at Jimmy Johns and now CLL, who would want to take a chance or bother with the hassle of hiring a professional whiner.  

I wouldnt worry too much though, he'll probably end up at some Social Justice non-profit.

Rufus
Rufus

So she was 2 hours late to work and thinks her firing was wrong? Not sure I follow the logic..

aimlow
aimlow

What a bunch of losers

Kent Erickson
Kent Erickson

This article leaves a few things out such as what was their wages compared to other liquor store employees at other stores. If they were making a comparable wage to that of your standard liquor store employee I don't feel bad for them being fired at all, nor do I blame management for firing them. What makes them so special that they should be paid above the median wage for their position? Now if they were paid less than the industry standard I can see their beef, but that info isn't provided.

Kevin J Koski
Kevin J Koski

They made the choice to work there & wages have always been low at CLL. If they don't like it tough shit. If they truely want to make more money stop wasting your time picketing & create something the public will want...be an entreprenuer not a suckubus!

CheapskateLiquor
CheapskateLiquor

What a bunch of cheapos! Chi-Lake Lic makes so much money! They can afford to pay their workers! That place is always packed! With the long lines they could afford to HIRE MORE workers too!

TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

This is not a “career” people!

If so, why the fu*k would anyone go to college, or even graduate HS. This "livable wage" argument is crap. Do your part to find and earn it. Society, doesn’t owe you anything.

axgrindder
axgrindder

@speakeroftruth getting a better job doesnt change the problem of SHITTY JOBS existing. That place makes a ton of loot, they can afford to pay their employees better than that. We all have a responsibilty to make society a better place, and that means businesses need to do their part to fight poverty...unless you want to keep paying their medical assistance and food assistance.

jsonwerner
jsonwerner

you are literally too stupid to live

barbertj23
barbertj23

@speakeroftruth 

You are legally allowed to ask for a raise. The people fired didn't make some kind of ultimatum threat, just "Hey everyone here would like a raise" you are legally protected from repercussions for saying that.

Also the "Find another job" approach is incredibly naive in a market like this. but a bad market is no excuse to fire employees for something they are legally protected to do.

pfleetham
pfleetham

@erikforman The store may gross 15 mil a year, but they do not net, or make, 15 mil a year

moore_amanda
moore_amanda

@jctungol I got hired as a cake decorator at wal mart for $8.50 an hour without them even mentioning any type of construction type work to me.. well the next week they're calling me in to work 40 hours a week to build all the shelves of the inside of a brand new wal mart store.  While on the surface that doesn't sound too terrible, but when you're a young female college student, it's only your second job, and you're lifting 30 lb metal shelves above your head all day it starts to wear down on you.  I would come home with big bruises all over my body from shelves falling on me and such.  My muscles would just ache and I would be so tired I had a hard time getting my homework done and the thought of getting up the next morning to do the same thing for people who lied right to my face was ridiculous. I had to take my breaks, even my lunch break, standing because they didn't have enough chairs in the break room.  For safety reasons they wouldn't allow us to wear shorts but at the same time they were testing the heating system all while in the middle of summer doing this labor intensive work.  I understand where you guys are coming from, if you're doing something way out of your job description, you should get paid for it fairly.

BLmpls
BLmpls

@Kitty Noodle Stop using words that are too big for you to understand. It's an insult to people who actually live under tyrannical conditions.
Asking a capable employer for a living wage isn't outrageous, abusive, or oppressive. Those words are better suited to describing the despicable actions of John Wolf and all business owners like him.

JiggyJam
JiggyJam

@Kitty Noodle  You're an idiot. I suppose you would be in favor of child labor again too.

Onan
Onan

@keny1 "Business School" - How quaint.

keny1
keny1

@Нина Суворова But that isn't what Obama told me. Obama said that not only should small businesses pay their employees more, they should also pay higher taxes. Because that's "fair". 

keny1
keny1

@DaveB And it would also be interesting to know what CLL's profit margin is. If you consider their lease, the cost of inventory, liability insurance, constant 24-7 refrigeration (which is NOT cheap), utilities, labor (including the cost of hiring off duty cops), I bet the owner is not raking in the millions that people think he is. Plus, I would like to know the outrageous MN taxes this guy has to pay on his profit. 

keny1
keny1

@CinBlueland I know you will be shocked by this revelation, but Max was also......an OWS protester. I almost fainted when I found out.

J_De_Roeck
J_De_Roeck

@Rufus Did you read the rest of the article? Like, maybe the part about 5 workers getting fired after petitioning for better working conditions? 

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@Kent Erickson It's about par for the job, the fact that they're getting a raise every 3 months is actually ahead of the curve. Turnover rate is fairly high for these jobs.

Dave2
Dave2

Wages used to be low in the coal mines, and iron mines, and in the construction trades too, then they unionized and won living wages for themselves and their families. When more and more industries followed suit and employees started paying union dues the standared of living for the entire country rose to a level never before seen. Then, of course, Ronald Reagan came along and fired 28000 air traffic controllers and began the long decline of unions. Now we listen to  whiners like  you who worry more about how much the guy next door makes, and someone who's on unemployment  insurance,  or someone trying to start up a union to make a living wage.

Funny, how CEO's of big corporations earning millions, and trillions of dollars  being hidden in overseas banks to avoid taxation, and millions being pumped into right wing PAC's designed to keep the wealthy on top and the workers underneath. But, I guess, all that goes right over your heads, all you little guys, who would rather just whine because someone has the guts to risk their jobs trying to start up a union that would help all of their fellow employees. ... Small perspectives, small people.

keny1
keny1

@CheapskateLiquor You have firsthand knowledge of how much Chi-Lake Liquor makes? Really. Enlighten us............

Dave2
Dave2

Do you believe in competition, CJ? Forming a union is just workers competing with their employers for a fair share of the pie; think of it that way, it won't seem so disgustingly socialistic.. ...Surely you're not against competition?

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@JiggyJam You're an idiot, nice strawman. You know what she meant. The employer lays out the condition of employment, nobody forced professional protester Max S. to take the job. Too bad CLL doesnt do a brief google search on new employees, they would have saved themselves from this headache.

JiggyJam
JiggyJam

@keny1 @DaveB He's part of the 1%. Did you not read the story? The owner is barely ever there and never interacts with his employees. I'm sure he must be raking it in if he can't even be bothered to be active in running his business.

TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

@Dave2 

Absolutely!

Now let’s look at who actually makes more money, the liquor store, or the governmental entities where is does business.  Talk about slice of pieand greed

Of course the employees would perhaps have to also work 60+ hours a week and mortgage their house to start the business in the first place.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@JiggyJam @keny1 @DaveB Sounds like Mr. Wolf is in his 70's, not exactly the kind of guy who would want to hang out with a bunch of patchuli wearing part timers. He may even be semi-retired and uses professional managers to actually handle the day to day.  But because he's run a successful business for 50yrs.. Feel free to hate him.  Now go back to your class on Social Justice.  It's obvious you're still part of the leech/mooch class.

keny1
keny1

@TheConservativeJerk There is no point in arguing with those of the Entitlement Generation.

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...