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Show Me $15 Protests Chipotle, Says Worker Fired for Talking About Higher Wages

Categories: Restaurant News

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Show Me $15 protesters say one of their own was unjustly fired.
Members of the Show Me $15 labor-rights group gathered in front of a Chipotle restaurant Tuesday afternoon to protest the firing of an employee who says he was terminated for his organizing activities.

Patrick Leeper, 24, says the Chipotle at 6318 Delmar Boulevard in University City requires employees to attend a weekly, unpaid meeting every Sunday. But Leeper, who worked at the fast-food franchise for three years, called in sick. A supervisor said there was no problem and that he would be filled in on the meeting the next day. But when Leeper returned to work, Tim Wurdack, the head manager, said he was fired.

Leeper says that calling in sick to a meeting was just an excuse to fire an employee whose protesting activities were well-known to management.

"I'd been warned several times, as far as protesting and fighting for a higher wage, that I can't do that in my workplace," Leeper says. "I was told that if I talked to another one of my coworkers about wages, that I would be let go. That was maybe two, three weeks ago. As far as my involvement in protests, Chipotle has not backed me up at all."

In a prepared statement about the protest, Wurdack tells us that Leeper's termination had nothing to do with politics.

See also: Show Me $15: Fast Food Workers Strike for Higher Pay at McDonald's, Domino's (PHOTOS)

"Patrick Leeper was terminated for reasons solely related for his failure to fulfill job responsibilities," he says. "His termination had nothing to do with his protest activities, which we've accommodated in the past."

But Leeper, who went from $8.00 to $8.80 an hour during his three years at Chipotle, insists he did his job well.

"A lot of people know me, they see me and know that I'm a good worker," he says. "And to be let go for something so small -- it wasn't because I was late to a meeting, it's because they felt threatened by my involvement in the movement."

The Chipotle protest comes one week before a day of global protest of fast-food workers. According to a press release from Show Me $15, workers in 150 cities around the world will walk out to protest low wages.

In the United States, the strike could include 33 cities, including St. Louis.

Globally, the protests are even being held in countries where fast-food workers make about three times more than the minimum wage is in the U.S. -- but only out of solidarity for their American counterparts.

See also: St. Louis Fast Food Workers to Protest McDonald's Following "Stolen Wages" Lawsuits

"In Denmark, McDonald's pays me $21 an hour and respects our union, so I was surprised when I heard workers in the U.S. had to fight so hard for just $15 and better rights," says Danish McDonald's worker Louise Marie Rantzau. "Fast-food companies need to treat the people who make and serve their food with the same respect everywhere, and workers in Denmark are committed to supporting the workers' cause until that happens."

For those wondering, a Big Mac in Denmark does cost more than it does in the U.S., but it's by less than $1, according to the Economist.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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39 comments
michaell1_98
michaell1_98

In the UK they have living wages for those who deserve it.  21 and older gets paid $10.60 where just four years ago they were paid $9.96.  Between the age of 18-20 gets $8.45 and four years ago $8.26.  Under 18 gets $6.25 an hour and four years ago $6.11, now here where it gets fun Apprentice (People 16 to 18 and the age of 19 and older for the first year) $4.50 an hour and four years ago $4,20.  I think if we went to this type of minimum wage you would not see so many people crying give me more for doing nothing more.  Hey we are copying their health care mess why not their minimum wage?

Trish Britt
Trish Britt

$15/hr for standing at a cash register and handing someone a drink cup is absurd. No fast food chain would make a profit without raising their prices....and then everybody would have another ridiculous thing to protest about. Teachers and nurses barely make more than that. Go get an education or a different job if you don't like what you're getting paid.

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

Rebecca Bolte no you didn't. You said: " If my puny company can afford to pay a living wage, companies 100x the size can afford it too. $15 per hour min wage just passed in Seattle. You need to get real and start valuing labor as much as investments."

Shannon Nicole
Shannon Nicole

You can't call in sick to protest. Do it on your day off, genius.

Rebecca Bolte
Rebecca Bolte

You're forgetting about the taxes taken out of people's checks. I said it was barely over $25k take home pay.

Rob Compton
Rob Compton

"Unskilled labor will never command a living wage". Wow. Guess we'd better just stop having people do that work then. Get real man, this kind of reasoning is devoid of all empathy.

Danny Boy Kalzoni
Danny Boy Kalzoni

I was at hardees the other day. I counted 5 employees and a manager. I thought to myself thats under 50 an hour to operate. In the five minutes I was there I seen ten transactions. Average that out to 80 in five minutes. You tell ne they can't pay a living wage? Bullshit! !!

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

Slaves aren't paid so...what are slave wages?

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

"Salves"???? Um I'm just going to ignore that one. James working a full time job that pays minimum wage does not afford you food and shelter. "They can decided to work elsewhere" Bullshit! Right now there are more people looking for work then there are jobs. Beggars can't be choosers. Do your homework and use logic. "Slaves had no such freedom. To equate slaves and free workers is a real stretch" First; I did not call them slaves. Don't put words in my mouth moron. I said "The company pays SLAVE WAGES dummy. Lean how to think James.

James Madison
James Madison

Never use math to unskilled labor in an argument. You are using an unfair advantage. You paid attention in math class, but they did not.

James Madison
James Madison

Salves did not get paid beyond food and shelter. The employees are freemen. They can decided to work elsewhere if the conditions for employment are not to their liking. Slaves had no such freedom. To equate slaves and free workers is a real stretch.

James Madison
James Madison

you can also start in these entry level positions and after establishing a solid work record seek other employment opportunities. Good workers are always in demand, but you have to prove you are a good worker first. Then you move from restaurants to other types of workplaces.

James Madison
James Madison

The termination was over talking on the job about issues the company warned him not to discuss on company time. A disgruntled employee ought to be fired. He could have arranged to talk about his wages and attempted to organize off the clock without any issue. He decided to have the company pay for something the company did not want. Termination of employment was just.

James Madison
James Madison

It is lawful to fire someone not performing their duties on the clock. Organizing on company time can and should result in termination of employment. Last time I checked, no one considered working at a restaurant as a career, except the manager. Unskilled labor will never command a living wage. Those jobs are taken by those entering the workforce. Perform your job well, and look for a better job once you establish that you are dependable. When you move on to another job, someone else who is unskilled will take your low paying job. So the cycle goes. Do not try to turn such entry level jobs into a career that feeds a family of 4+.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

This company pays slave wages and should be shamed for doing so.

David Emrick
David Emrick

We pay professional craftsmen 16 $ to start..fast food don't count.srry but I see a lot of fucknuts in these places.get real then get real job..if not join military and get something out of it..fuckin lazy assrs

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

Rebecca Bolte $15*2080hrs=$31,200. So $31,200-25,000=$6200. $6200 is "barely" over huh?

Rebecca Bolte
Rebecca Bolte

If my puny company can afford to pay a living wage, companies 100x the size can afford it too. $15 per hour min wage just passed in Seattle. You need to get real and start valuing labor as much as investments.

Rebecca Bolte
Rebecca Bolte

If companies that make billions in profits for investors (ie: people who are lucky enough to have extra money) then companies that hire college grads will have to raise their wages to compete. If a company can afford it, they moral obligation to the workers off whom they profit.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

Most college graduates don't make $25,000 a year dear. Get real.

Shaggs Smartsharkstudios
Shaggs Smartsharkstudios

Wow lots of hate from commenters today. Get an education? 30 percent have a college degree. No one deserves more at fast food? 25 percent are raising a child. But it is much easier to just spew rhetoric from a place of ignorance. You think 15 an hour is a lot to pay someone? Hahahahahahahaha!

Rebecca Bolte
Rebecca Bolte

He was was unlawfully fired for attempting to organize. Chipotle violated labor law. I hope they are sued. And lets be real $15 per hour is barely over $25k per year take home for full time work. It's not outrageous to ask for a living wage for full time, hard work, from a company that brings in billions. The working class is not worth less than the investor class, just because we weren't born with money to invest. Never forget that. We, in the working class, are in this fight together.

Marc D McNew
Marc D McNew

Only one way to make better money get a good education and a good job then you make more money

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

since it's called "be happy you have a job and come to the meeting and shut up."

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

how much did they expect to make when they set off on their career as a fast food cashier?

Matthew Mayo
Matthew Mayo

Doesn't exempt status deal with overtime for salary employees?

Joe Kozuszek
Joe Kozuszek

No restaurant employee (Non Manager) is exempt. That is a labor law violation.

Leslee Brown
Leslee Brown

Really?? 15/hr to work fast food?? Get real better yet go get an education then get a $15/hr job

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell

I had a local, family owned employer that would require unpaid meetings. After discussing the issue directly with management and being told that they were not required to pay, because we were "exempt" employees. We then went to our union, who wrote into the new contract for us to be paid. I was glad to have the ability to unionize, otherwise we still would have been forced to attend meetings without pay, along with many other issues that were never to be addressed by management individually.

Aaron Levi
Aaron Levi

Since when are mandatory unpaid meetings for hourly employees legal?

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

I'm getting hungry looking at this. I'll have to head over to Chipotle this evening!

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

AAAAHAHAHA if a 16 year old in highschool can come in and do your job perfectly within a week you don't deserve $15. You get paid what you're worth, period.

peacesrc
peacesrc

Many of these people who SERVE YOU are educated and work at fast food joints because their choices are limited. My friends father got laid off and had to make ends meet by working at McDonald's to support his FAMILY. These people take shit from pretentious douche bags like yourself everyday like slaves and you're gonna sit on your ass and call 15 dollars an hour absurd? By the looks of your profile picture you certainly do not seem like youre missing any meals at your local mcdonalds. Go work out or contribute to the cause before your next big mac binge princess.

doodiepoopoo
doodiepoopoo

@peacesrc Ohhhhhh....I see...So I worked on building a career before building a family so I should be penalized by your friends dads life choices right? I should probably pay for his food stamps and health insurance too huh? Because he didn't do enough with his life? Is that the point you're making? And even though he's in an entry level teenagers job he should get paid an outrageous amount of money just because he didn't make more of himself when he was younger? Very good points. Princess ;) 

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