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Snarf's Gives Employees Early Christmas Pink Slips

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 26, 2013 4:30PM

Not Very Merry via Snarf's Facebook Page
Twenty employees of Snarf’s received a pink slip in their Christmas stocking on Monday. Chicago Grid reported management at the River North sandwich shop informed their workers via email that “due to increased competition and losses, ownership has decided to consider remodeling and reconcepting the store.” Employees were informed to return any keys and company property to the location during business hours and they could pick up their final paychecks on Friday. As if getting the axe at Christmas wasn’t bad enough, employees were also told in the email to “Keep an eye out for the grand opening of the new store.”

"That was just a way to rub salt in the wound" said Genny Ramos, a 28 year old employee who received the email. Ramos had been working at Snarf's for two years. Shortly after posting a status update about her termination on Facebook, Ramos was put in touch with a reporter at the Grid.

Jill Preston, director of marketing for Snarf’s told Grid “During the Christmas holiday we’re pretty slow. The restaurant’s usually three quarters closed.” Preston also said that the firings had nothing to do with the choice some employees made to participate in a protest for higher wages just weeks before. Some employees joined a picket last month, when members of the "Fight for 15" movement and others staged a one day national strike to demand a raise in the minimum wage. Preston told the Chicago Grid “This does happen to coincide, but this is something we’ve had planned for awhile.”

Though Preston said employees were aware of slow business and the possible burger reconception (as if even that makes a round of Christmas layoffs okay), Ramos said otherwise. "I can't speak for other employees but I didn't know. The rug was pulled out from under us. You would hear whispers about the burger concept and that was something they talked about after the strike. They never specifically said it was our store."

The Worker’s Organizing Committee of Chicago, who organized the "Fight For 15" demonstrations, blasted Snarf's for the terminations. "It is insensitive and irresponsible for Snarf's Sandwich Shop to terminate their workers by email just three days before Christmas" said Deivid Rojas, communications director with WOCC. "These workers and their families depend on their salaries to meet their basic necessities. We demand that Snarf's reinstate these terminated workers once they reopen and pay them severance."

The backlash against the sandwich shop caused enough of a stir to elicit an apology from CEO and owner Jim Seidel. In an statement sent to the Huffington Post, Seidel said the company "learned from this mistake and will not be so insensitive again," adding the layoffs and remodeling were not "handled in a way that met our own standards for quality and kindness." Seidel said workers would receive an additional week's pay.