Thursday, December 09, 2010

Upper Crust downer

Having – out of the clear blue – become football fans this year (i.e., we’re watching games, with interest, that the Patriots aren’t playing in), my husband and I are going to be watching the Indianapolis Colts play the Tennessee Titans.

I know, I know.

If I really thought about football, I wouldn’t watch it.

Watching a bunch of testosteroned overgrown boys try to stove in heads of the testosteroned overgrown boys on the other side of the yard line, all so that by the time they’re in their early fifties half of them are completely addle-pated. Throw in martial music, all the warrior/gladiator lingo, the God-and-country sub-themes, and the entire this is war (football is hell!) nature of pro football, and it really shouldn’t be on my must see TV list.

Yet this year has featured so many super narratives: The redemption of Michael Vick, who did time for dog fighting and is now back, and put on a dazzling, record breaking performance a few weeks back. Then there’s the end of the trail (presumably) for Brett Favre, a charter member of the over-the-hill-but-can’t-imagine-life-without-football gang, raging narcissist division. And my personal favorite, the off-and-on meltdowns of Peyton Manning.

Truly, we’re tuning in tonight to see if he can pull off a brilliant performance, or, failing that, if his head is going to explode.

Pizza and football have a way of peanut-butter-and-jellying in our house, and my husband suggested that we get a pizza for tonight’s game.

Alas, I had to inform him we are no longer patrons of the local pizza that Jack Welch has termed “to die for.” (Not that any pizza is to die for, but it was pretty darned tasty.)

No, we’re off Upper Crust pizza until the brouhaha over their rotten treatment of employees is cleared up. (If then.)

This whole situation has left a decidedly bad taste in my mouth, and much as I crave a bespoke sausage-extra-ricotta-and-roasted-red-pepper pizza – or the “good-for-you” off the menu MGH with all the veggies, I won’t be dialing the Upper Crust tonight, or any time soon.

Here’s the quick version of the story, which is fully told by The Boston Globe.

Since it was founded in 2001, the Upper Crust has been using a steady supply of Brazilian workers, working 80, even 100, hour weeks, and like so many other immigrants, sending money back home. It should come as no surprise to anyone who gets out of the house on occasion that most/all of the workers were illegal. And, thus, subject to exploitation.

Such as screwing them out of overtime by writing them two checks – one for a 40 hour week, the other for any hours over, each at the same regular rate. No O.T.

Upper Crust also – voila - turned workers into managers so that they wouldn’t have to pay them any overtime. (Something tells me that these managers didn’t get any of the come-and-go perks that management types get in the free world.)

The disgruntled employees – good for them – took their gripe to the U.S. Department of Labor, which found for the employees, and ordered the Upper Crust to pay back pay to the total tune of 350 thousand dollars. That’s a lot of dough.

Federal law requires that even illegals are entitled to time and a half, a “law intended to dissuade companies from hiring such workers as  way to scrimp on payroll.”

But Upper Crust needed that money for expansion, so they went a-scrimping.

And the Feds ordered Upper Crust to pay up.

Upper Crust no like:

For the workers matters only got worse after the [Department of Labor] investigation. Upper Crust demanded that the immigrants surrender the government-ordered checks for overtime pay or else lose their jobs, according to interviews with five former employees, four former managers, and a class action lawsuit filed…in July.”

Not true, claims the Upper Crust flack.

But you have to wonder.

Nor, the Upper Crust says, is the allegation that:

Upper Crust began drastically reducing weekly paychecks to recoup the federally ordered payouts. [Valdeir Pereira] Pinto, for example, started earning $455 for 80 hours, according to copies of his paychecks and time cards submitted as part of the lawsuit. That is about $5.70 an hour, or $2.30 below the minimum wage. Pinto said Upper Crust deducted more than $8,000 over about seven months – the full overtime payment he received – and then fired him.

This is pretty darned tough work – sweaty and demanding – for $5.70 an hour. That manager title – Upper Crust claims Pinto was a manager and thus not entitle to O.T. – is really not worth all that much. You can’t eat title, that’s for sure.

It is certainly possible that the class action suit against Upper Crust gets thrown out.

But there was that initial Labor Department finding. And there’s the part about illegal immigrants jeopardizing their stay here by outing themselves through the suit…

Wish that we had good alternative pizza nearby.

Guess I’ll have to figure out where the closest Bertucci’s is – and whether they deliver. Maybe Sweet Tomatoes will decided to venture into the city from Newton.


It would be so much more fun if I could watch Peyton Manning’s head explode, or even se him put in a best-ever performance, if I could do so while munching on a slice of Upper Crust.

Sometimes life is so darned hard!

1 comment:

rashid1891 said...

Upper Crust began drastically reducing weekly paychecks to recoup the federally ordered payouts. [Valdeir Pereira] Pinto, for example, started earning $455 for 80 hours,