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Press Release: More Strikes Hit St. Louis’ Largest Fast Food Chains

The following is from a press release:


Inspired by New York City and Chicago Fast Food Walkouts, St. Louis Workers Strike Major National Chains

First-ever St. Louis Fast Food Walkout; STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 Campaign Launches Calling For $15 and the Right to Form a Union without Retaliation; Aims to Get St. Louis’ Economy Moving Again

ST. LOUIS— Workers walked off their jobs at Jimmy John’s and McDonald’s Wednesday in the first-ever fast-food strike to hit St. Louis and more 100 workers are expected to join them today. In their one-day strikes of major national brands like McDonald’s, Jimmy Johns, Domino’s, Hardees and Wendy’s are on strike, the employees are calling for wages that support their families and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The workers’ campaign, STL Can’t Survive On $7.35, seeks to put money back in the pockets of the 36,000 men and women who work hard in the city’s fast food restaurants, but still can’t afford basic necessities like food, clothing, and rent. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for an adult with one child living in St. Louis County is $14.84 per hour working full time. If workers were paid more, they’d spend more, helping to get St. Louis’ economy moving again.

“There are days I wonder, ‘how am I going to get home’ because I can’t afford my bus fare,” said Patrick Leeper, who has worked at Chipotle for more than three years, “Sometimes I walk for more than an hour just to save my train fare so I can spend it on Ramen noodles. I can’t even think about groceries.”

Fast food workers bring $1 billion a year into the cash registers of St. Louis, yet most of these workers earn Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.35, or just above it, and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. They’re coming together for $15 per hour and the right to form a union so they can support their families, and put money back into the economy.

“I’ve been at Jack in the Box for four years, cleaning and prepping food and all I get paid is $7.55 without any benefits,” said Anita Gregory, a mother of one, who is expecting her second child in the next few weeks. “I’m tired of having to struggle to survive while working so hard.”

It would take a typical St. Louis fast food worker minimum-wage full-time worker more than 1,300 years to earn as much as the CEO of YUM! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, made in 2012.

The two days of strikes here in St. Louis come just weeks after hundreds of fast food and retail workers went on strike in Chicago and hundreds more walked off their jobs in New York City. The strikes by low-wage workers began on Black Friday back in November, with hundreds of Walmart workers walking off their jobs. It spread weeks later to fast food, with workers embarking on the first-ever strike to hit the industry.

Low-wage jobs have accounted for the bulk of new jobs added in the recovery, and fast food positions are among the fastest-growing in St. Louis. Workers here, like those around the country, are increasingly joining together to fight for higher wages that will lift the economy.

“Workers in fast-food jobs are no longer freckle-faced teenagers looking for some summer pocket change,” said the Rev. Martin Rafanan, director of STL $7.35. “Increasingly, fast food jobs are the only options for St. Louisans, but these workers can’t even afford to pay for rent, food and bus fare. If the workers earned more, fast food workers would spend that money at local businesses here in St. Louis and help lift our economy.”

Founded in February of 2013, the St. Louis Organizing Committee is an independent union of fast food workers. The workers’ STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign seeks a $15 an hour wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. The STL Can’t Survive on $7.35 campaign is supported by a coalition of dozens of community, labor and faith-based groups including: ACTION; Adorers of the Blood of Christ; St. Louis AFL-CIO; AFSCME Illinois Council 31; Aquinas Institute; ARAW/Jobs with Justice National; Ascension Episcopal; Bethel Lutheran; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, St Louis, Central Reform Congregation; Central Reform Congregation; Eastern District Laborer Council 110; Eden Seminary; Epiphany UCC; Episcopal Diocese; Families USA; Gethsemane Lutheran Church; Jobs with Justice Workers’ Right Board; Kirkwood UCC; Missouri Jobs with Justice; MO Health Care For All; MORE; National Nurses United; New Life Evangelistic Center; Parkway United Church of Christ; People’s World; Personal UFCW655; Presbyterian Church USA; PROMO; ProVote; SEIU Health Care; SEIU Local 1; St John’s Catholic Church; St John’s Episcopal; St Joseph’s Catholic Church; St Margaret of Scotland; St Mark Lutheran; St Peter’s United Church of Christ; St. Pius; St Thomas United Church of Christ; Teamsters 688;The Bridge at Newtown; United Church of Christ in Afton; United Food and Commercial Workers 655; United Food and Commercial Workers 88; Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church; Westminster Presbyterian; Westside Baptist; Young Activists United


National Microbusiness Conference in St. Louis May 5-8

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference
St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green hosted the kickoff event for the 2013 AEO national conference

Microbusinesses, those with 5 or fewer employees, are an important part of the St. Louis economy. These businesses, though individually small, collectively employee much of our region.

St. Louis beat out a couple of other cities to host a national conference on microbusinesses, it starts Sunday:

Welcome to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s 2013 National Conference, the nation’s largest premier microbusiness event.

This year’s conference promises to be the best and most comprehensive ever. Join us as we engage senior executives, investors, bankers, practitioners, policy makers and Administration Officials in dialogue about positioning microbusinesses to create jobs and help grow America’s economy.

AEO’s power-packed program will combine large plenary style talks with small, interactive workshops to help attendees learn how to seek out new sources of capital, understand new products and services delivery models and adopt best practices that will enable long-term sustainability.

The conference will be held May 5-8 at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri as we ignite the power of microbusiness to change our communities! (Enterprise Opportunity 2013 Conference

I talked with Enterprise Opportunity’s President & CEO, Connie Evans, at the conference kickoff earlier this week, see her respond to me here.

The public is invited to attend the free marketplace of local microbusiness event Monday May 6, 2013 from 4:30pm-7pm. Chase Park Plaza (easily reached via the #10 & #95 MetroBus routes).

— Steve Patterson


Readers Overwhelmingly Opposed To Proposed Utility Surcharge

Click image for group opposed to the surcharge bills.

Readers very clearly oppose bills in the Missouri senate & house that would permit a utility surcharge, read specifics in the prior post. Here are the results of the poll:

Q: Support or oppose proposed electric utility infrastructure surcharge?

  1. Oppose 48 [77.42%]
  2. Support 10 [16.13%]
  3. Unsure/no opinion 3 [4.84%]
  4. Other: 1 [1.61%] – “support only if used for utility network, not plants”

You can lookup your Missouri state legislators here to let them know how you feel.

– Steve Patterson



Chronicle Coffee Now Open, Grand Opening Soon

Last July I posted about a New Coffeehouse Opening Soon on Page Blvd Just East of Grand Ave. It took a white while to open but last month it finally did. A few days ago I met someone there and returned for lunch.  The concept is simple, a nice neighborhood coffeehouse that hires employees from the area.

ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch.  Click for Google Maps.
ABOVE: Chronicle Coffee is located in the corner of a building that also houses the St. Louis Public Housing Authority and a PNG Bank branch. Click for Google Maps.

But how do you make such an enterprise financially viable? During my visit I was able to chat with the owner, turns out the answer is through acquisition!

Rick Milton, owner of Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., has sold his company to Jason Wilson, the owner of Chronicle Coffee. Chronicle is located just north of Grand Center at 1235 Blumeyer Ave. The sale, completed in December, includes both the Northwest Coffee roasting operation as well as Northwest Coffee cafes in Clayton and the Central West End. (Sauce Magazine)

By buying the well established Northwest Coffee Wilson has quality coffee for Chronicle and a good place to train new employees.

ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest and creating jobs in a community in need of work.
ABOVE: Owner Jason Wilson sat down with us to talk about Chronicle, Northwest, and creating jobs in a community in need of more employment opportunities.
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month
ABOVE: Tables & chairs will arrive next month

One wall of Chronicle Coffee includes enlarged black & white prints of the former Blumeyer public housing project that once  occupied the immediate area.I know I’ll return when I’m nearby. Wilson is finalizing plans for their grand opening later this month.

— Steve Patterson


Readers: Rams Should Pay For Their Own Facility In STL Region

Two-thirds of readers last week thought the Rams should pay for any new facility, but they’d like them to stay in the region. Here were the results:

ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome as seen from The Laurel Apartments
ABOVE: Edward Jones Dome as seen from The Laurel Apartments

Q: Arbitrators ruled in favor of the Rams regarding the EJ Dome lease, what outcome would you like now?

  1. Rams to pay for their own facility, but staying in the region 134 [67%]
  2. For the Rams to move elsewhere 31 [15.5%]
  3. Other: 19 [9.5%]
  4. City/county/state pay build a new facility 9 [4.5%]
  5. CVC/city/county/state pay for the Dome modifications 7 [3.5%]
  6. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

Many of the 19 “other” answers indicated some sort of public-private split:

  1. 50/50
  2. New stadium financed partially by Kroenke and partially by tax dollars
  3. they all pay.
  4. Rams, City, County and fans pay for new facility in downtown
  5. build a new stadium southwest of busch
  6. Rams Owners to pay off the OLD facility, then move away to wherever!
  7. Public-Private partnership for a new stadium
  8. to get the G4 from the NFL and HELP pay for the NEW DOME in STL
  9. Rams pay majority to rehab the Dome. Must get more use out of a 17 yr old bldg.
  10. It will be a combination of city / county / state / NFL & Rams money – new stadi
  11. Los Angeles Relocation
  12. Move to Maryland Heights
  13. Rams build stadium on illinois riverfront
  14. city state and rams pay. keep stadium downtown
  15. Agreement for both parties to contribute to a new stadium not downtown
  16. Rams and CVC/city/county/state pay for Dome modifications
  17. Stan signs long term lease with no changes needed to current dome : )
  18. Rams, NFL, CVC/city/county/state pay for facility
  19. Rams stay, hybrid financing – team + NFL + taxpayers

So why didn’t I include such an option in the poll?

CVC leaders immediately said that it was unlikely the state, St. Louis city and St. Louis County would agree to such an expense. The three are still paying a combined $24 million a year toward the bonds taken out to build the Dome. (stltoday.com)

Because we haven’t paid for the facility we have! The bond holders still expect to get paid regardless of where the Rams play after March 2015. If the Rams want to pay off the remaining debt on the Edward Jones Dome then I suppose some sort of shared effort to finance a new facility could be discussed.

The one topic I’ve not seen covered in all this is the PSL – personal seat license. The City of Charlotte is going through a very similar process with the Carolina Panthers:

Belong Forever.

That’s the Carolina Panthers’ marketing campaign to persuade fans to buy Permanent Seat Licenses, which gives someone the right to buy season tickets for a “lifetime” of football at Bank of America Stadium.

But as the team negotiates with the city of Charlotte for $125 million in public money for stadium renovations, some fans have questioned what their PSLs guarantee them.

The truth: A PSL is only permanent and forever for as long as the team stays in Bank of America Stadium. (Charlotte Observer)

Does it make a difference to Rams PSL holders if the dome gets a major overhaul versus building a new facility in Fenton, for example?

The only site  I can think of in the City of St. Louis large enough for a football stadium is the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing project at Cass & Jefferson.

— Steve Patterson