Boycott the Pickwick Restaurant!

Following months of unsuccessful negotiations and numerous unfair labor practices, Workers United Local 99 is asking that the public boycott the Pickwick restaurant.

The Pickwick has been a union restaurant for 85 years, and for four generations has been owned and run by the Wisocki family. Many of the workers have been there for 20-30 years. But the current owner, Chris Wisocki, seems to determined on tearing up all of that history and busting the union.

Among the unjust acts Chris Wisocki has committed is the firing of two long serving workers (CJ Cannon and Sandy Reinholt) for carrying out their legal right to picket; demanded that the workers give up their health benefits, longevity pay and 401(k) plans; and started a union decertification plan. All of this while the restaurant claims their business is doing great. Even the former owners of the Pickwick, Tony and Steve Wisocki, are outraged by this, and have publicly come out in support of the workers!

If the Pickwick succeeds in busing the union, it will set a dangerous precedent for employers throughout the region to do the same. It’s crucial that we rally in support of these workers in their time of need! Local 99 has a plan of action, but they need our help to win. Currently the union is holding pickets in front of the Pickwick from 11:30am – 1pm Monday through Saturday, 5pm – 7pm Monday through Thursday, and 6pm to 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Please come by and join the pickets; we can use all of the bodies that we can get!

Local 99 is also asking for folks to call the Pickwick and tell them you won’t be eating at the restaurant until they settle with the union.

Together, with a little solidarity, we can save these union jobs! Never forget – an injury to one is an injury to all!

———————————-
The article above was written by Adam Ritscher, borrowing heavily from information in the July 22, 2009 issue of Labor World newspaper. For more information about this important struggle, check out the front page article in Labor World newspaper.

82 Comments

Richard

about 12 years ago

Good thing I can't afford to eat there.

Danny G

about 12 years ago

I now know where I'm going to eat tomorrow night!

Starfire

about 12 years ago

Seriously Danny?

Danny G

about 12 years ago

I'm not a big fan of the Labor World crew.

Starfire

about 12 years ago

What about the employees of the Pickwick?

anti-leftist

about 12 years ago

Starfire, I'm guessing some of the employees ARE fans of Labor World.  

Or did you mean "How does a boycott support the remaining employees?"?

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

I wasn't so sure I supported this boycott til I saw the "anti-leftist" comment.  He polarized me, kind of like how the right does by inserting wedge issues on ballot initiatives during election years.  Only to the opposite effect.

String Bean

about 12 years ago

I lean pretty far to the left, but labor unions are an anachronism. I appreciate what they've done, but their time is over. 

Now, if unions were out there making sure their employees were the best trained, best educated or most effective employees an employer could hope to get, that would be one thing. 

Unfortunately, all I see from unions is reps and union bosses getting fatter, protecting workers who shouldn't be protected, forcing fair share no matter what, and finding ways for their members to do the least work for the most pay. That's just messed up.

Back on topic, the last couple of times I've eaten at the Pickwick, the food and the service has been mediocre, at best. My boycott isn't in support of the workers or management - I'm just choosing to support places that aren't resting on their laurels.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

If you truly think unions are an "anachronism" and that the gains workers have made with unions will stick around once unions are gone, you're in for a nasty surprise.

On topic, I love the Pickwick and am disappointed and disgusted at Chris Wisocki's actions.

escapedtheunion

about 12 years ago

It's the UNION that doesn't want the union jobs lost, not the Pickwick employees (at least not the vast majority). Intersting propaganda, though. Btw, I couldn't be more left or more anti-union.

escapedtheunion

about 12 years ago

Well said, String Bean.

udarnik

about 12 years ago

Pickwick employees want jobs lost?  What the?

Shane

about 12 years ago

Servers at Fine Dining restraunts make good money on tips.  My sister made well over 30K a year working 3 days per week at a fine dining establishment in Indiana being paid $2.50 per hour.  Indiana had a "tip credit" law.  The bulk of her income was on tips.   
Tips used to be 10 percent of one's bill, now an average tip is considered to be 15-20 percent.   Waitstaff in Minnesota are paid quite well, no matter what the union wants you to believe.

Danny G

about 12 years ago

Here are a couple of things that stuck out to me:

"Among the onerous contract changes Wisocki asked his employees to take or leave in his 11-page Employee Policy Handbook were: Wages to be determined by supervisors based on job performance."

and...

"Among charges filed by the union, Wisocki: Has diluted the bargaining unit with new hires."

These and the comical posing in the photo on the LaborWorld "article" (seriously, what is with that first chick on the left???) lead to my current craving for a Pickwick grilled Polish on rye sammich.

jenny

about 12 years ago

Use of 'sammich' automatically disqualifies one from receiving my respect for their positions.

Anyhow, let's see, things I've eaten at the Pickwick:

supermarket sausage, microwaved with canned sauerkraut : $12.00

thin milk and potato soup

dull portabella and alfredo pasta

Now, there is one thing they do right: drinks. I'll take a pink squirrel, please!

escapedtheunion

about 12 years ago

Udarnik,

My understanding is that some time ago many of the employees tried to start the process of dissolving the union (their choice), at which time the union stepped in to try to stop that process. Dissolving the union wouldn't cause them to lose their jobs at Pickwick--just their membership in the union.

LarryD

about 12 years ago

As a restaurant employee myself I just can't sympathize. MOST restaurant owners are not evil management and oil tycoons. They are in an extremely difficult industry and work just as much and as hard as the waitstaff, the cooks, the dishwashers, etc. I totally agree with String Bean: "all I see from unions is reps and union bosses getting fatter, protecting workers who shouldn't be protected, forcing fair share no matter what, and finding ways for their members to do the least work for the most pay. That's just messed up."

eco eco

about 12 years ago

I've always boycotted it because of the menu.

As for unions, I've been screwed by them a couple times in my life, by being a better employee who was let go because someone else who sucked had seniority. But the employment world would be even worse without them.

Dave Sorensen

about 12 years ago

Authoritarians don't like unions because they have a democratizing effect in the workplace. People rant about " freedom', but spend most of their work lives in a totalitarian environment, where the only freedom they have is the freedom to quit. That is hardly an option for many workers. Unions offer some counter-weight to the total control of ownership. Of course unions aren't perfect, but why not error on the side of workers for a change? Collective action by unions has gained most of the progress achieved in the workplace to date. Also, "at will" ( non-union) employees have zero job security. We are inundated by anti-union propaganda, and rarely hear about all that unions have done for us.

PartsGuy

about 12 years ago

I will definitely boycott the Pickwick. 

Not because of union bullshit, but because the place sucks. 

Overpriced, shitty service, shitty food.

baci

about 12 years ago

Where is the *EAL* German food in town?

huitz

about 12 years ago

As for labor laws or precedents, I know nothing.

I boycott simply because...

I remember the Pickwick (gosh, back around 1994), being the best food and service I had ever experienced.  I miss you, Pick.

Today, I get better salads at the duluth grill, better filets and crab at the casino, better beer at the brewhouse, all with shorter wait times and on a much lower budget (I can go on, but you get the idea).

I don't know if it's Chris's fault, but the place just plain, well, requires a skewed view of reality to believe it is currently fine dining.  Perhaps that is an undocumented feature, like perhaps fine print on the "Please wait to be seated" sign where it says "Must have skewed sense of reality", right below "Please present proof of tax bracket upon check-in" and "30% minimum for parties of two or more" followed by "We are not liable for your perception of what good food is" and "Please enjoy the elk antlers at your leisure, thank you".

Let's face it.  It is so not worth it right now.  Nothing against the employees that work there.  Most likely, it involves many factors; bad cuts of meat, side salads that are easily consumed with three forkfuls, etc.

Somebody tell me I'm wrong, since I haven't been there for 2 years.

Calk

about 12 years ago

I don't go there anyway, ever since the time we were there, I ordered the tuna, they gave me a slab of tuna, and charged me like $25. I could have eaten better for a LOT less at tome. But I also support workers. So I won't be going there.

contrarian_agrarian

about 12 years ago

I will support workers by going to Pickwick to eat.

kim

about 12 years ago

Hear, hear Dave Sorenson! Even though we ourselves may not be union members, all of us that enjoy vacation and sick leave, employer-paid health care and other employment benefits should be thankful for what unions have done for us.

Resolutionary

about 12 years ago

The business transaction between employee and employer is not arms-length.  In other words, the employer dictates the terms and the employee can take it our leave it.  In reality most employees have only one choice, to take it, as being indigent and not providing for ones family is a false choice.  This results in wage-slavery (ie most modern form of indentured servitude such as working for JP Morgan in Morgan Park years ago.)

Unions at their best provide the bargaining power to allow employees to negotiate with their employers as an arms-lengths transaction, a requirement for the free-market to function efficiently.  Unions at their worst, provide an opportunity for the corrupt and lazy to take personal advantage of their position.  But please, let's not buy corporate propaganda that we don't need unions because "they already did their job and we don't need them anymore" Let's work to improve our unions, by holding the union leaders accountable along with the other folks subject to corrupting power such as our business leaders and politicians.

I enjoy the food at the Pickwick, when I feel I can shell out the funds. I respect Chris Wisocki.  It seems the Wick was a place for many years that allowed its employees to build a career and live a middle class existence and was a profitable business venture for the Wisocki family.  I hope this does not change.

Flicker

about 12 years ago

It's terrible that The Pickwick has opted out of being a union labor establishment. While I understand the union isn't always loved or embraced I have worked in non-union jobs that were basically sweat houses! Take Wal-Mart for example. They were recently sued by employees for requiring one to work off the clock! In a Union shop that would have never happened. I believe that abolishing the union is a sad choice. I am a friend of Chris...however I will NOT support his choice to become non-union in the way it has happened and I will NOT frequent his establishment. Sorry!

vicarious

about 12 years ago

The last time we went there, we walked into the bar and the two old men sitting at the bar (the only other patrons at the time) simply leered at my partner, and scowled at me. The bartender ignored us...

It was so gross and disturbing, we left and vowed to never go back. We haven't. 

There are a few menu items that I crave, but it's not worth the money or poor service. The place is an anachronism, far past it's heyday, and is on the way out.

tamara

about 12 years ago

To those of you who are anti-union or anti-workers:

Workers never got anything without uniting for it.

As I've said on this blog before, and now I will say again, many of the privileges you take for granted as a worker were only gained through unions. Things like:

-Weekends
-The 40-hour workweek 
-The 8-hour workday 
-Overtime 
-Sick Leave 
-Paid Vacation 
-Company-paid health insurance 
-Pensions 
-Safety and health protections 
-Grievance procedure for violation of worker  rights 
-Fairness in promotions & assignments 
-Higher wages and fair treatment on the job 
-Right to respect from managers 

These were all brought to you through union activism. Some of them are law now, but only because workers united up against their employer and said "This is not right. You cannot treat workers this way" and stuck together all the way until it was made into law through legislation or Supreme Court action.

LarryD, just an FYI: The union represents everybody, including the co-worker you don't like. We don't hire the people, we just represent them. Your employer hires these people. If they hire a bad apple, we still have to represent them, just like we have to represent you, even if you are anti-union. 

For the rest of the commenters, as far as the comments about "union fat cats" and all that: Many of you know me and my family. I work for a local union. . I make an average wage that puts me squarely in the low-to-mid middle class. I drive a car that is 9 years old with high miles, live in a middle-class neighborhood, and we live fairly paycheck-to-paycheck.

My neighbor works for a different local union. She is renting her house, has a car even older than mine, and she certainly doesn't seem to be living high on the hog. 

The "fat cat" idea is perpetuated by conservatives who are anti-workers' rights. The truth is, since the enactment of the LMRDA, unions have had to be so transparent in their spending and have to be accountable for every dime that we spend that the "fat cat" is simply a thing of the past.  Don't believe me? Find it out for yourself by searching for a local union's 990 tax form. It's public information.

Back to the original subject: those of you who are supporting Chris Wisocki, think about this: He is breaking the law. When he tried to organize a union decertification, when he started to ignore the contract, when he fired the workers: he violated the law. Apparently, though, it's okay for him to have done this because it's "his business and he should run it the way he sees fit." 

There are set processes (set by the federal government) through which Chris Wisocki could have stayed within the law and yet gotten what he was looking for. Instead, he broke the law, because he felt he didn't have to abide by that silly contract that he signed.

I bet Bernie Madoff thought the same thing.

Apologies for length...

cplutu

about 12 years ago

tamara, no apologies necessary for length. Too many anti-union supporters who do not understand the very basis for their own benefits. The extra comment I wanted to add was the very basis for many of the unions was for safety issues. Employers that sacrificied peoples health for profits. Loss of limbs and life created the first rally of solidarity to improve the workplace. Then leading to demands for wages, benefits, working conditions etc.  We need more people to understand why they have what they do, union or not. And the fat cats ??  Apparently no one watches the news the last few years on what has happened to this nation from greed ???

cplutu

Dave Sorensen

about 12 years ago

This might be getting a bit off topic, but there's an excellent documentary about unions in the coal mines called " Harlan County, USA". Mr. Movies in the plaza used to have it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCiVMngILEI

Danny G

about 12 years ago

Wait a minute.  Employees are losing limbs at the PickWick?  Makes me want to rethink my dining choices next time I go.

Dave Sorensen

about 12 years ago

Ha Ha. I said it was a bit off topic. Unions are good for grievances large and small.

c_ray

about 12 years ago

In the weeks since Pickwick declared a bargaining impasse, the "informational picketing" by Local 99 has distributed no less than 5 versions of a pamphlet claiming a variety of atrocities, in addition to slandering the Pickwick management on a daily basis in front of our own restaurant.  A few examples of the blatant lies:  1) Pickwick management has eliminated 401(k) plans.  The fact is there NEVER was a 401(k), and in fact they have offered a 401(k) with a match.  The union offered a "defined benefit" pension plan, similar to the ones discussed in the July 27th edition of the Wall Street Journal.  2) Pickwick management has fired employees for picketing.  The fact is that they were taken off the schedule until the impasse is resolved.  Once a competitive successor agreement is reached, they can be returned to duty.  3) Pickwick has orchestrated a union decertification drive.  The fact is the EMPLOYEES organized that decertification drive.  Ask the 35+ employees that signed that petition WHY they want Local 99 out.

Now Todd has completely stopped handing out his own printed leaflets, and began handing out copies of the Labor World article, no doubt to avoid any future legal action against Local 99.  Maybe he thinks that having a third party do his dirty work will vindicate Local 99, and with their recent affiliation with SEIU (a union already burdened with MILLIONS of dollars in outstanding legal settlements, fines and fees for heinous violations of labor laws), they really can't afford to incur anymore lawsuits.

Gail

about 12 years ago

What is the current status of the restaurant? I've always been a union supporter since my dad worked hard in a union job. I have visited the Pickwick a couple of years ago but don't know if I should go there again. I also am concerned about the employees left behind or if the older waitress(that was excellent) was one of the canned waitstaff. We are planning a vacation in Aug. 09

tamara

about 12 years ago

C-ray, or Chris Wisocki, 

How about you explain to the rest of the PerfectDuluthDay commenters how it's okay for *you* to violate labor law, but it's not okay for Workers United 99 to violate labor law, which, incidentally, they haven't. 

Why don't you explain about the security guard you hired to work only on picketing days to intimidate the union members picketing?

Why don't you explain about how "removing the workers from the schedule until the impasse is resolved" is a violation of labor law and especially heinous since you didn't remove *all* the union members from the schedule, only the two most vocal?

Why don't you explain how the 35+ union members who you say are organizing the decertification process got the paperwork to do so? Why have you encouraged the process instead of remaining neutral, as employers are encouraged to do?

Why don't you explain what SEIU has to do with this? They have nothing to do with your dispute. This started way before the interactions between SEIU and UNITE HERE and the formation of the Workers United Conference. 

Gail, I support all the workers at the Pickwick, the ones who may be unhappy with the union and the ones exercising their legal rights. What I don't agree with is Chris Wisocki's interference in the process and his blatant disregard for labor laws. 

We often had luncheons and dinners at the Pickwick for our union, but we have chosen to take our business elsewhere to other unionized restaurants who choose to follow the law when working with the union. 

Other unionized restaurants in town are Porters, in the Holiday Center downtown, and the Top of the Harbor at the Radisson. I encourage you to patronize one of those establishments.

Slapshot

about 12 years ago

Hmmm.....it seems that the last time I was in the Pickwick, it was primarily high-school and college students working there.  There were a few exceptions, but primarily non-lifers--people that were working their way through school, or people working a part-time side job.  Now why, pray tell, would a penny-pinching student cough up $40/month for union dues when they won't reap the rewards of any of the benefits (pension, health care, vacation, sick leave, etc.)?  That's right.....they don't want to.

I had a similar situation while working at the Nemadji Golf Course--paying $26/paycheck in dues and got nothing as a part-time seasonal employee while the full-timers paid $29/paycheck and got all of the bennies.  When I aired my concerns to my union rep (the $60k/year golf course mechanic, who, incidentally, was the only full-time course employee), he essentially told me to f-off.  Why?  Because all of us students were paying into his pension fund and paying for his health care.....which is why AFSCME went apeshit when the City of Superior contracted out the golf course operations--they were only losing one full-time union position, but were losing thousands in unfair, forced union dues.

Basically, Todd Erickson and his union-hack buddies are pi$$ed off at Wisocki because he just cost their coffers about $20k per year for booting a union out of a workplace that the majority of workers didn't want to be part of anyhow.  If these unions are so concerned about working conditions and fair wages, they should really start working in third-world countries overseas where the really poor labor conditions are prevalent.....but of course, the union dues wouldn't amount to a middle-upper class salary in Bangladesh.

Now, the Pickwick employees are able to invest in a 401(k) (with an employer match) that they can take with them as opposed to a union pension plan that they'll most likely never see.  And they'll have an extra $40 per month, which ironically is almost double what the Obama tax cuts put in their pockets.

If you'll now excuse me, I'm going to the Pickwick to have a beer as I have been intentionally doing each day since Local 99's laughable little strike started.  I find much joy in crossing their picket line/harassment zone each day, and will continue to do so until Todd Erickson respects Chris Wisocki's right to run a business as he sees fit.

Mike

about 12 years ago

I'm now boycotting Porters and Top of the Harbor.  Shouldn't be too difficult.  I'm also going to talk to Wisoki and see if he's hiring.  I could use the 401(k) match.

Kyle

about 12 years ago

I want to read an article written by a neutral source.  I have only read versions written by the Local 99 Union representatives.  It is no wonder it ends up being a Wisocki basher.  Don't believe what you read until it is from a source that hasn't picked a side.  I proudly worked for the Wisocki family for several years.

wildgoose

about 12 years ago

We saw the ladies who got fired at the Labor Picnic today.  They were face painting and they did a really good job. Quality face painting isn't as easy as it looks.  Neither is waitressing, by the way.  Not by a long shot.  

It's a sad situation.  It sounds like a lot of the anti-pickter rhetoric on here is just a lot of baiting.  I like what Kyle said.  Unvarnished truth is always good.

beth

about 12 years ago

I work at the Pickwick.  I will start by saying that the lack of respect for the employees is unreal. I was told when I signed the "handbook" that my health insurance would still be available to me only to find out that Chris decided to quit paying on everyone's health insurance a month before telling anyone.  It is not free health insurance the participants were still paying their part.  Oh yeah, no more contribution to our pension and where oh where did our union dues go that were taken out of our checks? Almost forgot he did offer us AFLAC...oh yeah that's right anyone can get that and we pay all of the premium ourselves. I am so sick of people saying that we should be thankful to have a job.  A restaurant employee is not less deserving than anyone else to have benefits.  I would like to thank all of the people supporting the union and all the people out picketing for us.

beth

about 12 years ago

Um the 401K is a match of 1-4% depending on business.  If I contribute 1,000.00 4% of 1.000.00 is..how would he ever come up with the $40.00. It doesn't start till Jan.

Sarah

about 12 years ago

I have been a fan of the Pickwick for many years and will continue to go there every chance I get. 

What I find ironic is that these picketing employees (2 are 'employees' and the rest are other union supporters), are so concerned about job security.  What company fires it's best workers? If they are so great at what they do, then why are they so concerned? And violating labor laws? Since when does a picketing employee GO TO WORK at the place they are picketing? If you are going to picket, why would any company want that person to come in and work? That's the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. 

That restaurant has been in business for decades and it's not because of the union. And if they are so sick of hearing they should be happy to have a job, try not having one. I wonder what they will think when there IS no job for them? Then what? 

A restaurant is one of the hardest businesses to operate and most go under within the first year. Maybe some of these employees should sit down with Chris and look at the numbers and really learn what it takes to keep it afloat.

Sure they used to get a free meal during a shift and now they have to pay 50% of the price. I don't get a free meal or discounted meal at my workplace. They probably don't even eat the whole thing. It must be nice to watch the leftover discounted or free meal go in the trash. 

I'm sick of people thinking they are entitled to everything. And by the way, a 401k match is a blessing, not a right. A lot of companies don't even offer a match!!!  

If this business goes under, then instead of 2 people out of work, during an impasse mind you, the whole restaurant will be out of work.
 
Good luck to Chris and the rest of the loyal Pickwick supporters!!!

beth

about 12 years ago

I don't think anyone was complaining about not getting a free meal anymore, but way to grasp at a straw.  Ok, how about for one minute Sarah you forget about health care and 401K. How about getting respect and not being talked to like we are crap.  How about not being told one thing and then doing another.  All I know is that at the end of this I might not have a job at the Pickwick, but I at least will have my dignity and know that I have not lied about anything.

Sarah

about 12 years ago

I'm not grasping at straws. I know the meal thing is part of the issue, however small an issue it may be. It is still an issue for some of the employees.

The point I'm trying to make is that if I worked at a place where I was disrespected and 'talked to like we are crap,' I would go elsewhere for work. There are many restaurants in Duluth and the surrounding areas, why stick it out if it's really that bad? 

I've known about 10 people who have worked there over the years and none of them said anything about ever being treated poorly or being lied to. 

I have had to deal with being told one thing and doing another at work as well...and it was by both an employer with a union and one without. The company I work for had layoffs this year and over 10% of our workforce (4000+ employees) have been let go...thus far. And we didn't get raises or bonuses this year. The consensus at my work was that people are happy to have a job. That's all I was trying to convey. 

Beth, I'm not trying to pick on you, I just don't like to see a business that has been around for that long, a staple in Duluth for decades, hit hard times. Believe me, I wish it could be worked out but i just really have a bad feeling about that union. Sorry if I offended you, it's just my opinion.

zra

about 12 years ago

sarah...were your "friends" working there before or after your friend Chris took ownership?

if conditions there are so hunky dory and everyone is happy with the way things are being handled, why is the rest of the Wiscoski family unhappy with the way Chris is running the show there?

just curious.

and just an FYI, the picketing issue isn't the only labor law violation that Mr. Wiscoski is guilty of violating.

zra

about 12 years ago

i also hate it when people try to use the "well, it's been a horrible year at my company too" cop out for defending a completely unavoidable and heinous situation.

lojasmo

about 12 years ago

Tamara nailed it.

There are manifold reasons not to frequent the Pickwick.  If their food didn't suck, and they were not using anti-worker tactics I MIGHT consider buying a shitty, overpriced meal, but certainly not now.

Thank the unions for our living wages, our weekends, our overtime, and our health insurance.  Without unions we would not have these things.

lojasmo

about 12 years ago

The Pickwick, like the US auto industry is on hard times because, in a time of recession, they have failed to provide a service that the public wants to pay for.

It's not the union's fault.  It's not the workers' fault.  It is the fault of an uninspired managerial and conceptual team.

zra

about 12 years ago

actually, a good portion of the cost of a U.S. made auto actually goes to pay for the health care of the people who built it. *if* the cost of health care weren't so damned costly, the sticker price on the lot wouldn't be so damned high...

...the same can be said for a good number of things manufactured here in the states...which is why large corporations were chomping at the bit for free trade acts like NAFTA.

shit from overseas is cheaper because the companies who own the sweatshops in which the stuff is made don't have to shell out all that extra ching to cover their worker's health care.

Sarah

about 12 years ago

Zra, I know people who have worked there over the years, the past 15 years to be exact.
 
I just know who Chris is because he now owns the place. Don't even know what year he took over, just know it wasn't that long ago, a couple years maybe? But no, he's not a 'friend' either. But the last name is Wisocki, not Wiscoski.

I don't know his family or why some of his family members are unhappy with things. But not every employee is behind the union and in fact a good number are supporting getting the union out. It's just interesting that people who work at the same place have such completely different versions of what it's like to work there. Right or wrong, take it for what it is I guess.

I totally agree with your health care comment.  Health care costs are way too high and businesses can't afford to pay as much of the costs on their employees' behalf. Doctors and hospitals charge more, insurance companies have to pay out more, premiums go up, etc. It's a vicious cycle and nobody wins.

Slapshot

about 12 years ago

I'd like to know when it became mandatory that employers pay for the health insurance of their employees.  It is an employee BENEFIT, not an employee RIGHT.  It seems that--much like homeownership--the liberal left views health insurance as something that is a right.....one which must be paid for by someone else regardless of cost.  It is not.  If you don't like your employee benefit package, change jobs.  It is your right to demand better benefits.....likewise, it is your employer's right to say "No."  That is the way free markets work.

Of course, Capitalism is a curse word on this message board, so I expect little support for the economic philosophy that built this country.  I fully expect to see millions more unemployed workers once the current administration forces employers to pay for employee health insurance, as the majority of small businesses cannot afford it.  This is not a coincidence: If any of you believe that Democrats are the standard bearer for small business, you are sadly mistaken.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Yeah, I spent some time working with no benefits and 24/7 on-call no less, with the ancillary fix of an 800-number cell for free use, a bonus (depending on net profit, so, umm, non-existent), and ghost "shares" in the corporation (nicely put in place to stimulate work ethic for everyone).

But, since I actually enjoyed my job, it didn't bother me.  Sweat shops are not all that bad until you age; then it sucks.  And besides, everyone I worked with -- no matter their job -- seemed to be happy.

It's a little "if you can't stand the heat" thing, but I'm undecided as to how Chris handled the situation.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

If these two women are so in need of healthcare/retirement, there's an AT&T call center in the Tech Village that hires just about anyone and has decent benefits.  Of course, Local 99 doesn't have it's fingers in the cookie jar there, so don't expect Todd Erickson to give you a reference.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

Also--I wonder if the two poor women who are now on unemployment are currently seeking other work elsewhere.....per the requirements of receiving unemployment benefits.  I'd guess no, seeing as they are spending 4-5 hours each day throwing their placard-carrying tantrum outside of the Pickwick.  Move on, ladies.....you're embarrassing yourselves over a waitressing job that you could get anywhere else in town.  If Chris Wisocki is such an ass and the working conditions are that poor, his business will go under on its own.  Funny how liberals view natural selection as OK with regards to the theory of evolution, but not OK when it comes to economics.

Tim K

about 12 years ago

Capitalism has failed. It is a self-destructive system. The point of capitalistic ventures is to corner the market- i.e., run your competition into dust and monopolize the service or product. Once that is achieved, it is no longer useful to anyone but the monopoly.

zra

about 12 years ago

TK is correct.

Capitalism has failed chiefly because those who have the money are either not playing by the rules that have been established to protect the economy OR are changing the rules to allow themselves an unfair advantage over the rest of the field...and consequently are behaving irresponsibly in their pursuit of even more money. 

In this light, it seems that Tonka is the one with a skewed view of natural selection.

The ideal nature of Capitalism supposedly dictates that everyone who wishes to make money should be able to make money, but in reality, those opportunities are significantly diminished by an extreme imbalance on the control of wealth, and those with the wealth being able to control the market...in short, the only ones making money are the ones *with* money.

Their main failing is that the "free market" DEPENDS on the middle class, which is rapidly shrinking. The poor don't spend money. The middle class is what truly drives the economy, and once that disappears, Capitalism falls. So much for the novel idea.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

See, your arguments are based on pessimism.  You choose to believe that those without do not have the ability to achieve.  Small business is the #1 employer in the nation.  Without capitalism, this would not be possible--there would only be large conglomerates controlled by an oligarchy of politicians.  Which is a scenario that I can only HOPE you are opposed to.  The centralization of that much power would--as it has in the past--lead to epic failure and a society in which power and wealth are concentrated in percentages the likes of which you cannot fathom.

When I was younger, my father--with a high school diploma--worked the 6am-3pm shift at the shipyards in Superior, came home, took a nap, ate dinner, drove to Brule, tended bar at the Kro Bar (great watering hole) until bar close, got home at 3:30am, went to sleep and did it all over again.  Five days a week.  He then went in with two partners and bought a couple of lumber yards, busted his ass for 23+ years, and sold the business for a handsome sum.  Nobody helped him, he didn't receive government assistance and there wasn't a community organizer greasing the skids for him.  He flat out worked his ass off.  This is what people can achieve if they choose.

Small business is the primary employer of the middle class--not Corporate America.  The policies that the current administration is pitching would destroy small business.....cap & trade, card check and mandatory employer-paid health care would decimate small businessowners nationwide.  THAT would be the end of the middle class.

I will concede this point: At this stage of the game, we cannot just "reset" the economy; that is, do away with all of the rules and regulations.  What needs to occur is the implementation of policies that increase competition and the emergence of new "players" in the economy--in addition to policies that reduce the financial stress on these small businesses.

Your argument that those with the *money* change the rules to their advantage is weak, because Republicans/conservatives are against government invention in the economy.  I will be the first to admit that W screwed the pooch big time in abandoning this tenant of Capitalistic economics--his poor fiscal policies were a part of the problem we're currently in.  But the root cause of the recent economic downturn was the housing crisis, anchored by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: goverment-sponsored entities.  These two GSEs are not unlike the "public option" that the Dems are pushing right now.  You cannot have a free market when your main competition doesn't have to--at the very least--break even.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Tonka, you have to intervene a little bit.  Just look at history.  Railroads, Communications (ooh, that's a big one), etc.

Gosh, I wish I could have been around during Ma Bell.

Small business is also the number one drop-out.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for small local business, but that certainly can't be the basis of your argument.

See it for what it is.  It's not that rich people make rich money.  It's more like the privileged have more of an open door to make money.

The way I look at it, is, well, I don't give a shit.  Let the mice run; they really won't find the penultimate cheese.  But, monetary policy is necessary in the long run (that would be some government control over the "free" market to keep the mice from eating each other).

huitz

about 12 years ago

Oh, I forgot to mention, I worked in a warehouse at a software corp. and during late evenings at Target (10 to 1 to be exact) and went to school, so the whole working a lot needs a larger story to touch me.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

At no point did you say that small business isn't the backbone of the U.S. economy.  You said that small businesses go under more frequently than larger businesses.  Good observation, genius.  That doesn't dispel the fact that small businesses are the largest employer in the nation.  The vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.  Socialistic policies will destroy the middle class, along with small businessowners.

Small business IS the basis of my argument.  Most small businesses fail within the first two years--at the point when they are employing few if any employees.  It is the 1-in-4 start-ups that end up creating jobs for the middle class.  Just think: If more people ponied up and tried to go out on their own, how many new jobs would be created?

And you also mentioned that you worked for a software CORPORATION, as well as working for Target CORPORATION.  Why not try to give it a go on your own?  There are plenty of resources for you to start your own business--many of them privately-funded.  The "door" you speak of is open for everyone.  There is no law to keep you from starting your own company--that would only be the case if the government were running everything.  If you have a product or service (or combination of the two) that is better than your competition, you will succeed.  Don't complain that certain sectors are adequately serviced--find your own niche and go get it.  Don't sell yourself short--too many people do.

The Big E

about 12 years ago

Go back to the glorious 1880s.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Perhaps I misspoke (sp?).  The idea that small business has a strong force behind modern local economy is a stretch. Okay, maybe in a tourist environment.

I'll buy that people should do the venture capital thing, and I applaud it, but to suggest that door is the answer to general problems in economy is pretty weird.

On a side note, there's nothing more cool for me than to start a B&B off a boat.  I'm not joking.

huitz

about 12 years ago

Wait a second, that came off bad.  Umm, the first corp was internally owned, the Target thing was just to make ends meet.

My pipe dream is a B&B.

I misspoke about the software warehouse as well.  Technically they sold hardware.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

It's only a pipe dream if you say so.  Do the research, talk to B&B owners, find out what you'd need to do to make it work.  As a small business lender here in Duluth and someone with a feel for the local economy, I could see something like that working--and even being a local attraction.  Give it a go.....I dare you.

And the "door" IS the answer, especially if you're a proponent of the middle class.  There is no reason why people can't try to start their own business.....especially with all of the resources that are out there.  Write a business plan, and if it is solid you won't have a problem finding capital to start it up.  That I can guarantee you.

TonkaTown

about 12 years ago

As for the Big E....I'd rather go back to the 1980s.  It was a better time to start a business.

Dennis

about 11 years ago

I do not want to see any of the present employees negatively impacted, but would like to see all future employees non-union.  I strongly feel that the unions have outlived their purpose and are far too obstructionist.  I have encountered union business managers who work hard to intimidate those who don't belong to their club.  

When it comes to safety, hours, equitable treatment unions do a fine job....but their day in the sun is over.

zra

about 11 years ago

obstructionist? seriously, Dennis? unions negotiate detailed labor contracts between management and employees, and by federal law are designated the enforcers of said contract.

My partner is a union representative, and I continually hear cases where employers consistently attempt to screw their employees with wage cuts, hour cuts, benefit cuts and other practices...

If it weren't for the unions being in place, the employees would certainly be taken advantage of, and it's becoming more and more brazen and commonplace in today's work environment.

if you've never worked in an environment where you've had to be a part of or deal with a union, you should consider yourself a lucky man. it's my experience that given the opportunity, employers will almost always do everything within their power to take advantage of their employees.

TonkaTown

about 11 years ago

zra-

Think your source is a bit biased?  You're hearing everything from your partner....who is essentially a paid extortionist.  The vast majority of American business isn't unionized, and good thing.....otherwise, we'd have lazy, overpaid whiners in all facets of business instead of those where people feel more important than they really are.

And, pray tell.....how is it "screwing" someone to cut their wages/benefits/hours?  You act like the employee is doing the employer a favor by working.  The employer is the one who has taken the risk of being in business in the first place, but yet someone the EMPLOYER offers a JOB to has the right to DEMAND more from that employer?

See, entitlement babies such as yourself are the reason that this country is going to hell in a handbasket.  You're not OWED anything by anyone.  If you want better money/bennies/hours, go work somewhere else....or better yet, go start your own business.  It is absolutely preposterous that you believe that employers make the decisions they do in order to "screw" their employees.  A business has to make a PROFIT in order to STAY in business, but of course, in your warped world, profits are bad, right?  It is--and rightly should be--the decision of the employer to run his/her business the way they see fit and to try to make as much of a profit as they desire.

News flash, zra: Profit is the only reason anything in this country EXISTS.  Now I know that you'd rather see a business owner shut down his business rather than cutting hours/pay/bennies, but that's not the way it works.  I sincerely hope that you don't have any hand in the guidance of America's youth, because your twisted world view is precisely the reason America is on a long downward spiral towards destitution.

zra

about 11 years ago

first, Tonka...why are we still talking about this? You just wake up or something?


sorry, Tonka, but if that was the way things were, i'd agree with you...but please don't make assumptions about what *I* would and wouldn't like...entitlement's not my game, brother...i work for my pay, i pay my way, and i rely on my employer's honesty and integrity without the complexities of a labor contract to get in the way of my relationship with them.

but it ain't...and to insinuate that my partner is anything other than honest, while you probably don't know her personally, is pretty tenuous at best...though i will say that i also hear storied of some of her members trying to take advantage of the system in which she works, and it usually never works out to the benefit of said employee, and is basically a waste of my partner's time.

What i hear about are stories of labor NEGOTIATING CONTRACTS with their EMPLOYEES (see, I can use the capital letters just as EFFECTIVELY as you can...but I digress)

What i hear about are stories of business owners not living up to the terms of the NEGOTIATED CONTRACTS by which they're bound to abide by with regard to what is due to the employee...

THAT is what I have a problem with.

oh, and Tonka, you can take your "entitlement," and shove it up your ass, baby.

davids

about 11 years ago

At the risk of troll-baiting, I'm going to post here to suggest to you "TonkaTown" that you have a seriously ideologically inflected version of US history--one that is as biased as anything you are accusing others of saying.

I do not know "zra" or his partner. I am a nominal member of a union that I often do not agree with, but which I am glad exists because I have colleagues at other universities without unions and they definitely do not have useful representation in their negotiations with their employers.

This country's history suggests some pretty heavily conflicted ideas about why and how it exists. But I'm certain that the pursuit of "Profit" is not the only idea that the US is supposed to be built on. Even that old document that some people like to wave around without having read, the Declaration of Independence says we ought to have a shot at "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Note that profit is at best implied, and probably not really included in that trinity.

At the very least we have an ideal that we exist to be a democracy. That ideal has been supported with some pretty heinous economic arrangements involving slavery, child labor and exploitative labor practices. Unions may not be the best of all possible worlds, and they are certainly not the answer to every situation, but they have played an important part in sometimes making the social contract of our society slightly more fair and supportive of workers, not just those who have "ownership." Increasingly in our service-oriented society ownership means ownership over the productive capacities of other human beings.

Well, now that I've launched into an attempt to have a conversation rather than a rant on this topic, I realize that taking your inflammatory comments seriously and trying to engage in dialogue informed by history isn't likely to be productive with you.

I should just have made some smart-ass comment to underscore that your perspective is biased and moved on--so that's all for now. I'm off to play in the snow...

db

about 11 years ago

I'd like some evidence to the claim that small business generates middle-class job opportunities.

Unless the definition of "middle class" extends to income levels I don't imagine fit.

Anything above the federal poverty level?
$11,000 for an individual, $20,000 for a family of 4?

Congressional Research Service: between $19,000 a year and $91,000 a year?

US median household income: $48,200?

I'd have a hard time pegging most small businesses as paying their founders a salary of $48,000 a year, much less multiple employees.  But someone making $20,000 ($10/hr) who imagines they are "middle class seems at least potentially self--deluding.  Even in Duluth, where the cost of living is so low.

...

I wouldn't set foot in a restaurant accused of multiple labor law violations any more than I'd set foot in a restaurant accused of multiple health code violations -- at least until I was sure, upon reinspection, that the violations have been corrected.  I don't see that here.

That's got nothing to do with my union sympathies;  it's got to do with the law.

David

TD

about 11 years ago

I don't have an issue with union employees in this case, but they need to fire thier reps. 

Looks like they will have plenty of time to picket soon.

nicole

about 11 years ago

Well Todd and Jaye...what kind of benefits are you going to get the Pickwick employees now.  Not only no benefits, but hey now they will have no job.  Way to look out for the employees.  At least you still have your jobs huh?  I guess Jaye succeeded in her own mind...she got Chris to let go of the place..kind of backfired though don't you think?!

dingdongs

about 11 years ago

I'm not really sure how unions work but, does the previous staff of the pickwick get any kind of pension (from either party) to land on after having the rug ripped out from under them?

Tina

about 11 years ago

I have worked for a union for years and although I can appreciate why they were established many moons ago, they can be easily abused. When you bite the hand that feeds you enough, you stop getting fed.

TonkaTown

about 11 years ago

Reap the whirlwind, Todd & Jaye.  This is what happens when you beat down a business owner for more & more no matter the scenario.  Seems oddly reminiscent of the mines back in the 80's.....take, take, take, and then when things turn for the worse, the union hacks dig in their heels and won't budge.

Anyhow, congratulations Local 99.  You just put dozens of jobs at risk because of your bloodthirsty, anti-business extortionist greed.  I hope you both lose your jobs as well for screwing over the Pickwick staff.

Chris, thanks for trying.  There's only so much you can do once these leeches get their selfish way.  Best of luck to you in the future.

David

about 11 years ago

I'm confused:

The DNT says:
On Friday, Wisocki's attorney gave the union representing the restaurant's workers notice of Wisocki's intent to sell.  The letter says the tentative decision to close and/or sell the restaurant is due to severe financial losses the operation incurred in recent years, said Todd Erickson, president of Workers United Union Local 99, which represents most of the restaurant's 70 employees.  Wisocki challenged his attorney's use of the word "losses." But he said: "It's been a rough year for everybody. Everybody's business has gone down in the last year."

Of course he challenges the use of "losses" -- he wants to sell the place.  The lawyer would change it if asked, I'm sure.  But nowhere does it say that labor disputes caused the sale.  Decreased sales caused the sale.  (Did sales decrease because Duluth remains a union culture and people like me refused to cross the picket?  Maybe.  That was management's choice.)

The owners before the current owner held it for 4 years according to the DNT.  Was that change in ownership catalyzed by the union?  

We just don't know, and leaping down the union's throat is unhelpful.

TonkaTown

about 11 years ago

C'mon, David......I know you can't be this dense.......

OK, we'll just suppose that the picket DID reduce business to the point where Chris had to dump the restaurant.  Who picketed?  That's right, Todd Erickson, the two (TWO!  Just TWO of them!) ungrateful waitresses and and number of legalized extortion supporters.  So, who caused the business to go under?  

Your analogy is akin to blaming a battered woman for "deserving it."  The man was trying to run a profitable business, and the union not only wouldn't give any concessions, but then picketed the business from which they wanted more money/benefits--subsequently driving away more business.  The union hacks stood up and proclaimed, "If you don't give us what we want, we're going to try to shut down your business."  How is that NOT extortion?  And now you're going to blame Chris Wisocki for the lack of business?  You think that he'd be selling if he was raking in the profits?  Wow.  A liberal's complete lack of business sense never ceases to amaze me.

David, you really don't have a grasp on reality.  But I'm about 98.9% certain that you're a public sector/non-profit employee, so making a profit has never been an issue for you.

David

about 11 years ago

At no point did I blame the owner, did I?  Surely, you're not attributing the collapse of sales entirely to the picket line?  That's a leap I wouldn't make.  It may have contributed (a concession I was willing to make), but the economy is clearly in a slump.  Restaurant business is down, as measured by the tourism tax.

A restaurant 20 yards away across the parking lot closed a few months ago.  Did the picket line extend to the third floor of the Brewery complex?  Probably not.  Did the picket line go back in time and catalyze the sale in 2001?  Probably not.  A hobby shop closed in West Duluth last month.  Very powerful picket line.

It's easy to forget what unions have historically made possible (the fact that we have time to post to boards, courtesy the 40-hour workweek) and it's very easy to single them out as the cause of failure.  Neither move is accurate.  

There are too many variables of which we are just unaware.  That's my point.

TonkaTown

about 11 years ago

OK, I'll admit I was wrong in insinuating that you blamed Wisocki.  You didn't.  My apologies.

However, you still fail to address the fact that the union did absolutely nothing to help the Pickwick remain in business and the employees on the job; on the contrary, they used the strong-armed extortionary tactic of picketing the business that provided employment for 70+ people.  The point that several other businesses have gone under in Duluth is moot.  We're talking about a business that has been around for years, and that business is going under because a union thug and his cronies decided they--yet again--wanted more.  Would the Pickwick have survived with some union concessions?  Now we'll never know.  What we do know is that Local 99 pulled the trigger on a picket that drove away business.  That is a fact that has been echoed by numerous people in this forum

If there were a coroner's report for the 'Wick, union extortion might not be the cause of death, but it'd definitely be a contributing factor.  And THAT is wrong.  A man had to sell or close his business because a handful of thugs and a couple ingrates decided they wanted more from a private business owner.  Sad day for Duluth, and the workers--because if you think that a buyer is going to bring back a problematic bunch of employees (especially the two waitresses who successfully damaged the business of the restaurant), you're so very, VERY mistaken.  Correct perception or not, I'd be willing to bet that only a handful of those union workers will be hired back......and not the union sympathizers.

loveAZ

about 11 years ago

From someone that grew up in Duluth and loved to come back and eat at the Pickwick...Duluth's downfall has been and will continue to be because Duluth holds on to this union culture.  I would never bring my business there. Now 70 employees are without jobs....MORE people & jobs to leave Duluth. Unions are a waste WASTE of money.  Thank God I live in a right to work state.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
Not that this is a newsflash or anything, but holy living Christ God Almighty does Ticketmaster suck big, wet ones or what? I mean, REALLY? Are they EFFing serious?!?

Tickets to Daniel Johnston at First Avenue are $14 each. So, two tickets would be $28, right? That seems reasonable...

Close