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Upcoming Events in the IWJ Network

Posted | by Ian Pajer-Rogers |

ITHACA, NEW YORK (October 24th) -- The Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Mark Pearce, will be speaking at Cornell University starting at 4:30 p.m. in Room 184 of Myron Taylor Hall on Monday, October 24th 2016.This event will feature an extended Q&A with the public, and may be of particular interest to residents in and surrounding Tompkins County given their expressed interest in organizing unions in many workplaces. More information from Cornell Law School about this event.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (October 29) -- DAMAYAN Workers Cooperative (DWC) is hosting an open house in order to inform and empower surrounding communities. Attendees will get to hear from DWC founders about the organization's vision as well as potential opportunities for Filipino nannies, babysitters, housekeepers and more. They will also have the opportunity to mingle with and learn from NYC coops, NYC council members & DAMAYAN allies about topics such as financial stability. The event will happen on Saturday, October 29th from 12:30-3:30pm at the Nature Conservancy (322 8th Ave New York, NY 10011 Fl. 12).There will be a light lunch from 12:00-12:30pm. Please bring a government-issued ID to this event. More information from DAMAYAN Workers Cooperative about this event.

LATHAM, NEW YORK (November 16) -- Once a year, the Labor Religion Coalition of New York State gathers to celebrate their leaders at an annual Faith at Work Awards Breakfast. The Coalition be honoring four inspiring individuals who are leading labor and faith communities in the struggle for a better New York. Tickets are $50 per person or free for members who contribute $5/month or more to Labor-Religion Coalition. If you’d like to become a member and receive a complimentary ticket, click here: http://bit.ly/LRCMember. More information from the Labor Religion Coalition of New York State about this event.

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI (December 14-16) -- The 2016 annual EARN Conference will be held this year in recognition of the critical role that St. Louis has played in national discussions of economic and racial justice over the past two years. This event will continue EARN's multi-year campaign to support state and local efforts to raise wages and strengthen labor standards, with a focus on the unique challenges faced by communities of color, historically disadvantaged communities, and states/regions where progressive policy victories are harder to come by. The 2016 EARN Conference will occur between December 14-16 at the St. Louis Marriott Grand Hotel in St. Louis, MO. Various workshops will be available on topics such as The Fight for $15 and Black Lives Matter.  More information about the 2016 annual EARN Conference.

Don't see your event listed? Contact Ian at ipajer-rogers[at]iwj[dot]org to add your event.

Primanti Bros. Is Being Sued for Paying Below Minimum Wage

Posted |


From The Incline:

by Sarah Anne Hughes 

Primanti Bros. — the sandwich shop chain synonymous with Pittsburgh — is being sued by a former employee.

Chelsea Koenig filed a class action suit in District Court last month, alleging that Primanti Bros. didn’t pay its tipped employees the minimum wage. Koenig is identified in the suit as a Pennsylvania resident who worked as a bartender at the Mt. Lebanon location, one of 23 in the state. There are also several Primanti Bros. outside of Pennsylvania.

At question is a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows employers to take what’s called a tip credit. That means an employer can pay a lower minimum wage — $2.83 an hour in Pennsylvania — as long as they ensure that an employee’s tips bring the hourly wage to the higher minimum, $7.25.

But there are strict standards that employers have to follow in order to legally use the tip credit. The biggest of all: ensuring that employees actually make the minimum wage for every hour they work.

According to the suit, first reported by The Pennsylvania Record, Koenig’s hourly wage from Primanti Bros. was $2.83.

“Plaintiff does not ever recall her hourly wage being raised above $2.83 for any day she worked for Primanti Bros., irrespective of how little tips she earned or the type of work she performed,” the suit states.

Under the FLSA, an employer is required to make up the difference if tips fall short. So if a tipped employee in Pennsylvania doesn’t make $4.42 in tips per hour, the employer has to raise their hourly wage to make up the difference.

“Defendants took the maximum tip credit permissible for every hour worked by its tipped employees,” the suit states of Primanti Bros., “irrespective of whether its tipped employees actually earned sufficient tips to substantiate the tip credit claimed or whether the employees were engaged in tip generating work.”

In the suit, Koenig also alleges that Primanti Bros. did not inform employees that it was taking the tip credit.

According to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, an employer must tell employees either orally or in writing that it plans to take the tip credit and inform them of what exactly that means.

Then there’s the issue of side work, like prepping a work station and cleaning after a shift. The suit claims that Primanti Bros. required its tipped employees to perform this type of work. In Koenig’s case, she states that she spent 30 percent of her shifts doing these tasks and not getting tips.

Courts have found that if side work exceeds 20 percent of an employee’s shift, then an employer cannot use the tip credit and instead needs to pay employees the full, $7.25 minimum wage.

Attorneys for Koenig did not respond to requests for comment, and a message left with a Primanti Bros. marketing employee was not returned.

A report by Temple University released last year found that “wage theft … is a pervasive problem hurting hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers across the state each week.”

They estimated that nearly 400,000 workers in Pennsylvania experience a minimum wage violation during a given week, while 300,000 experience an overtime violation. That adds up to between $19 million and $32 million in lost wages a week.

In the Pittsburgh region, the report estimated that 3,322 waiters, cafeteria workers and bartenders experience minimum wage violations. An additional 7,611 are subjected to overtime violations — like getting paid the minimum wage instead of time-and-a-half — and 5,855 aren’t paid for off-the-clock work.

Read more from The Incline.