Snarf's St. Louis Protested After Chicago Workers Unceremoniously Fired

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Protesters gather in front of Snarf's. | Nancy Stiles

We know Snarf's (6301 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-4800) as a delightful sandwich shop across from RFT headquarters (and it has a location downtown, too), but not everyone is so pleased with them. St. Louis fast-food workers, with the help of Show Me 15 (formerly STL735) protested yesterday in solidarity with Snarf's Chicago workers who were fired three days before Christmas via e-mail.

See also: Fast Food Strike Expands to East St. Louis

"Basically when we spoke with fast-food workers here in St. Louis about what happened, they were outraged," Show Me 15 spokesperson Shannon Garth-Rhodes tells us. "They were just like, 'How could they do that to them three days before Christmas, in an e-mail?' They were upset, and they wanted to hold this action."

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A Show Me 15 member explains the protest to police on the scene. | Nancy Stiles

Snarf's, which is based in Colorado, terminated all employees at its 600 West Chicago Avenue location with the following e-mail:

1. Due to increased competition and losses, ownership has decided to consider remodeling and reconcepting the store at 600 West Chicago Ave.

2. The store is closing, effective tomorrow, December 23, 2013 for an unknown period of time for this remodeling and reconcepting.

3. All staff is terminated, effective Monday, December 23, 2013.

4. All staff may apply for unemployment, if eligible.

5. Return any keys and Company property to Will Ravert at 600 West Chicago Avenue on Monday, December 23, 2014 during normal business hours.

6. Payroll will be processed as usual this week and paid on Friday, December 27, 2013.

7. Keep an eye out for the grand opening of the new store.

8. Ownership appreciates your service and wish you well in your new endeavors.

Doug Besant
Director of Operations

Chicago workers protested the next day, and CEO Jim Seidel posted an apology on Facebook for how the layoffs were handled. For Show Me 15, though, this demonstrates how precarious jobs are for of low-wage workers who are prohibited from unionizing.

"I think it's really important that these workers are standing in solidarity with other workers. What we've seen over the last year in fast-food strikes has been tremendous," Garth-Rhodes says. "It's really building on this movement of low-wage workers that are standing up for something different -- these sorts of things can't continue to happen on our backs."

After inquiring about the protest, we received this statement from Seidel:

"We respect everyone's right to share their opinion on this matter. At Snarf's we're focused on providing great service to our customers and a positive work environment for our employees."

Neither Seidel nor spokesperson Jill Preston would comment specifically on the reason for the protests -- the apparent lack of job security for employees.

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Protesters handed out fliers to passersby and explained why they were upset. | Nancy Stiles

Show Me 15 members, fast food workers, the social-justice nonprofit Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and others gathered in front of Snarf's with fliers. They explained to passerby and Snarf's customers what happened in Chicago and urged people to contact Seidel.

Some protesters went inside the sandwich shop and explained to the manager what they were doing. Fast-food worker Tempesst Tuggle told us that he was very polite and listened to what she had to say, but seemed concerned about things "getting legal."

"Wouldn't he be worried if that was his job?" Tuggle asked. "I would be."

Two police officers were also on the scene, watching over things.

"When workers stand together, they get recognition and they get noticed. So we're stronger united -- we're bigger in number," Garth-Rhodes says. "This isn't just something that impacts workers in Chicago. This is the reason workers are standing up for a union."

Snarf's Flyer

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at nancy.stiles@riverfronttimes.com or follow her on Twitter.





Location Info

Snarf's

6301 Delmar Blvd., University City, MO

Category: Restaurant


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33 comments
Mike Milan
Mike Milan

Everyone should have the right to organize, including employers. That should cause the stalemate we need for a balance of happiness.

Mike Helbig
Mike Helbig

And how are they supposed to eat in the meantime?

jzavist
jzavist

Being terminated by email was probably poor form, but would it have been any easier / better if they had called each employee, individually, into the restaurant office and fired each one face-to-face?  Fired is fired, and the store WAS being closed for a major remodel.  They didn't give any advance notice because most minimum wage workers wouldn't have bothered to show up to work for the last week or two the store remained open, had they been given "notice", and Snarf's had a business to run.  Yeah, it sucks, especially around Christmas, but would it have been any better two weeks earlier or two weeks later?!  And no, a union could have done little to "save" any of their jobs - if the store closes, there will be NO WORK!  If the employees were really lucky, the union MAY have helped them receive some token severance pay and/or some priority for rehiring when the store reopens, but these would have had to have been negotiated, in advance, and I'm guessing that most current employees would be more interested in maximizing pay (that $15 an hour dream) than in negotiating some hypothetical exit strategy.  Toughen up, move on, look forward, not back!

Clay Denton
Clay Denton

They should make Adam into a sandwich because he's a natural ham.

John L. Williams
John L. Williams

I prefer the Ro-bear Burble Bar and Brunch. It's far better than Snarf's Sandwich Shoppe.

ryan.foizey
ryan.foizey

Couple of things: I was the manger on duty that they "spoke with." I would like to clear something up. I did not "listen to what she had to say" and the only time that I was polite was the first three times I asked them to leave before saying, "If you do not leave willingly, it will become a legal matter," ... Followed by me calling the police.

I am not against anyone's right to protest. I encourage it. I simply did not agree with or care to hear about what it is they were protesting and they were interfering with our business. Our downtown location had to close due to a pipe burst and we had to transfer all perishables to our location that morning whilst maintaining downtown delivery orders; essentially running two stores out of one location nearly tripling our standard amount of business. We did not have the time nor the space to 'listen" to their, in my opinion, ridiculous protest.

Would I like to make more money? Get real. That's not even an actual question. Do I think that throwing some bread in an oven and standing there for two minutes waiting to put some veggies on it merits FIFTEEN dollars an hour?? I mean. That's almost as ridiculous an expectation as the protest itself.

LESLEE - I agree that it is entry level. How dare you make any sort of reference to the level of skill in that shop. I'm happy for you that you "got where you are today..." Really. But don't let your pride insult people. It makes your hard work stink of entitlement. I am a theatre artist. I have my own non-profit theatre company that I started in August and I am the artistic director. I "worked hard to get where I am" too... and I work at Snarf's. The job may be easy but the place is full of skill: musicians, actors, dancers, painters and parents. They like it there and would likely punch themselves in the face for 8 hours a day if they had to do whatever it is that you do. It's a choice. Say la vie... P.s- I DID go to college.

As far as if I lost MY job? It'd suck. I'd be pissed, but I wouldn't protest about it... I'd take that time to update my resume and apply for some jobs. If I lost my job there tomorrow via text message, I wouldn't feel like I had the time to force my opinion publicly for hours on end about how life can suck sometimes and that I want more out of society than what I put in for. The timing was unfortunate and the manner was unprofessional, but shit. Life happens and I am truly sorry to all of the Chi-town employees. Very. Very. Sorry. One of them was my friend that I worked with here that transferred there. You'll be happy to know he is alive and well. HEY RYAN!

You should try our special right now... It's delicious. 

Adam Usher
Adam Usher

I LOVE Snarf's and will continue to go there. Business is business and if Snarf's wants to change things up then they can.

Andy Knight
Andy Knight

Everyone should have the right to unionize. The right to free speech and association are rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Jonathan Byrd
Jonathan Byrd

MO is not a so called "Right to Work" state. The term you are looking for is an "at will employee" there is a difference

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

they are compensated enough to be alive...or they'd be dead.

Sarah Penrod
Sarah Penrod

This sentiment is sadly too common. There are many flaws in it. First of all, a functional economy needs ALL kinds of labor - both skilled and unskilled - and there aren't enough 16 year olds to do all those jobs. If everyone one could and did take your advice our society would grind to a halt. Waiters are needed. Shelf-stockers are needed. Cash register people are needed. Someone to sweep a sidewalk is needed... etc. Your patronizing attitude towards people who do those jobs doesn't change that simple reality. Second, these are people doing an honest day's work. Anyone who is doing an honest days work should be compensated enough to survive. Anything less is something akin to indentured servitude. Third, your "unskilled labor" is a label we use, but it doesn't actually mean those people have no skills. The compound effects of the steady wage destruction since the late 70's mean that we now have a whole lot of "underemployment" - which means that many of those skilled workers you are so mindlessly exhorting folks to be are working in those unskilled capacities now.

Leslee Brown
Leslee Brown

Sorry but fast food jobs are unskilled labor and entry level jobs. If you no call, no show as a protest over wages then the employer has a right to fire you as Missouri is a Right to Work state. I have no sympathy at all. I've been in my field for over 20 years with no college degree and worked my way up to where I am now. I wouldn't have the balls to threaten my employer over wages

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

they should be standing in line at a trade school so they can get better jobs.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

they should be "allowed" to. and their employer should be allowed to laugh his ass off.

Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson

Why, because I'm vaguely making fun of a person who's ego clearly surpasses his abilities and who happens to believe himself among the upper crust of intellectualism while having the cultural and avocational tastes of people who think Duck Dynasty and Deep South Paranormal are hallmarks of civilization?

Andrew Bohler
Andrew Bohler

Can those low wage workers afford the union dues?

Niki Fox
Niki Fox

Courtney Mae, aren't you glad you got out?

Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson

But I'm not in a job related to politics. And according to certain low rent people, that means i can't possibly have any idea what I'm talking about, despite a high honors degree in Political Science and membership in the Political Science honor society.

Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson

I can't help it. If it's a generically political issue, I can just go on and on.

Adam Jackson
Adam Jackson

Wow. That is a tough question. As a current member of middle, waged management I'm not sure where my feelings are; I would be caught in the middle. A union of such persons would almost force upper management to eliminate waged management by either establishing a salaried professional management team and/or demote some waged managers to the more general labor force, but thereby increasing union membership, many of whom would be angered by the demotion and create capable union reps for an otherwise younger group of inexperienced individuals not fully cognizant of such responsibilities. Wow, I'm not a politico or anything.

ryan.foizey
ryan.foizey

A place like Snarf's IS a good job. It has allotted me the great fortune of being able to do the things I've listed above... On top of paying my student loans from when I went to trade school.

The people that got fired liked it too, otherwise they wouldn't be so upset. And you used the right word. "Job." A job is never something you like. That's what a career is for... And believe it or not, a lot of people that have a "job" at Snarf's also have a career. Happy ones.

So relative to whatever it is that you do, Snarf's may sound like a nightmare but it's been good to a lot of people. Maybe it's the best job they've ever had and it affords them the ability to relish in whatever their soul food is.

Your comment is really insulting.

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