Chicago IL 60609
July 1, 2014
Bridgeport Coffee Company
3101 S. Morgan, Chicago IL 60608
To all whom it may concern,
On the 27th of June, 2014, after almost a year of employment, after having worked several weeks under new management, I was momentarily barred from entry into my place of employment, Bridgeport Coffee Company’s Hyde Park location, when the new manager, [Redacted], attempted to physically intimidate me by employing a gesture that would have ended in a fist fight in any public space and many private establishments as well. Namely, he stared into my eyes at a distance of what I estimate to be no more than five inches for a period of time that must have lasted over one minute, for as long as it took me to remove my sunglasses, fold them, place them in the collar of my tee-shirt, consider how to conduct myself, determine to straighten my back, broaden my shoulders and wonder what I should say under such awkward, bizarre and strenuous conditions. Later that evening, while my coworker, [Redacted], and I were working, [Redacted] and the assistant manger, [Redacted], entered the shop without a word, worked on the computer in the kitchen for no more than ten minutes, and left as quietly as they arrived. Two hours prior to closing, I used the computer to check my email and was surprised to find an open Word document of the upcoming schedule that neglected to account for both my coworker and I. In other words, both [Redacted] and I weren’t scheduled to work after July 6th.
We repeatedly dialed the phone numbers for both the manager and his assistant with the hope of clarifying the reason management sought to deprive us of work, yet both numbers were unavailable. Their phones weren’t turned off. The numbers simply weren’t assigned to any phone, a predicament that could only serve as a detriment to ownership and the upper management of Bridgeport Coffee Company if there were an emergency. At approximately eight in the morning on the following day, June 28th, [Redacted] called me in response to a prompt I sent him via social media. After asking him why [Redacted] and I were omitted from the schedule after July 6th, he responded by saying, “It ain’t none of your damned business,” and followed with, “I ain’t even told you nothing yet.” The absurd rationale that my job security is “none of my business,” and the use of the word, “yet,” were particularly revealing.
I replied as any self-respecting human being would and told the newly minted manager to go fuck himself before hanging up the phone. After having my livelihood threatened and experiencing physical intimidation in the workplace, after “a long train of abuses” I had no intention of returning to Bridgeport Coffee Company, but by noon that day, [Redacted], the co-owner, called, asking that I speak with her in person at Bridgeport Coffee Company’s Hyde Park location. I found it curious that upper management felt compelled to plead for my continued employment and additionally confounding that [Redacted] rebuffed me instead of heeding my plea to work for the previous manager of the Hyde Park location, [Redacted], who had been moved to Bridgeport Coffee Company’s Roosevelt location after [Redacted], the former manager of that store, was fired without cause. I also noted [Redacted]’s claim that [Redacted], a man who once wrote a thesis on how water effects coffee, was fired for plausible reasons, reasons she never unveiled.
Uncertain of how to proceed, I agreed to continue working, yet provided no guarantees, and after two additional days of employment, three days later, after further reflection, I’ve decided to resign from Bridgeport Coffee Company, effective immediately, and following are my reasons.
I see no reason to trust upper management. My feelings of insecurity and frustration began shortly after [Redacted] was moved to the Roosevelt location, when [Redacted] mentioned that Bridgeport Coffee Company is going to “save on labor” and encourage “efficiency.” The comment was predictable since it followed what resembled a purge at the Roosevelt location, which paid its employees a significantly higher wage until recently. What I hadn’t expected was [Redacted]’s reply to the rhetorical question I posed in response. “So they [upper management] are going to cut hours and lay people off?” I asked. “No,” he said. “That’s not what that means.”
I don’t appreciate when people lie to me, and I downright resent when people lie to my face. “Efficiency” usually means, “Cutting hours and laying people off,” and it always means, “Cutting hours and laying people off,” if the word follows such transparent language as, “Saving on labor.” I became increasingly concerned that my employment may be terminated after a regular customer informed me that the manager divulged to him the implementation of “changes” that included my departure. When I broached the subject with the manager, [Redacted] feigned ignorance, and when I asked if the customer was lying, he shrugged. The following morning, I sought clarification from upper management and the owner, [Redacted], reassured me that I wouldn’t be fired. Shortly thereafter, the manager attempted to physically intimidate me and removed me from the schedule after July 6th. During my discussion with [Redacted], she claimed she had never authorized the schedule, but pettifogged in her attempts to clarify whether [Redacted], the majority shareholder of Bridgeport Coffee Company, authorized it. Regardless, [Redacted] and [Redacted]’s draft of the schedule was written with intent and the expectation that it would be authorized, and although I was told that [Redacted] is no longer the manager at Bridgeport Coffee Company’s Hyde Park location, the spate of new employees hired shortly after his promotion believe he continues to function in that capacity, whereas those who’ve been working there for the last several months or longer remain uncertain of the identity of their current manager. Some of my colleagues have speculated that [Redacted], who has worked for the company for no longer than a month, is the manager, but what comfort is that to me? He helped [Redacted] draft a schedule that spelled out my unemployment.
Upper management is incompetent. It’s only reasonable for me to expect to be placed under the care of my former manager after the new manager attempted to physically intimidate me, yet when I proposed the idea to [Redacted], she responded defensively. “You’re giving me an ultimatum,” she said.
Dear owners, your manager attempted to physically intimidate me — he barred me from entering my place of employment — and instead of firing him or moving me to another store, you’ve decided to schedule us on opposing shifts that overlap for no more than one hour during the day. You prefer to create an obstruction rather than remedy the situation by employing me at The Roosevelt location, a store that’s operating on a skeleton crew and continues to recover from an ongoing exodus of employees, a store where there are openings. It begs the question, “Why do you want me to work for you if it’s only under the condition that my employment at your establishment handicaps your ability to manage your stores effectively?” Are you concerned that I may consult The Illinois Department of Employment Services? Why should I trust that you won’t fire me or my coworkers without cause, to save on labor and encourage efficiency? What reasons have you given me to trust you? Why do you insist on prolonging a hostile work environment? This line of questioning is self-perpetuating and seemingly without end. 363 days out of the year? Did you run a cost-benefit analysis comparing the resentment and antipathy roiled up by the decision to open your doors for business on The Fourth of July and the meager amount of revenue generated when few of your customers show because they’re celebrating with family and friends? Have you considered the effect of placing the operation of all your stores in the hands of someone who has worked almost exclusively at the roastery, who possesses minimal or no experience managing any of your stores and knows only a fraction of your employees?
Your relationship to labor and the community could only be described as negligent or abusive. When one of your employees was killed by a speeding driver two blocks south of your company’s original location, you insisted on keeping your doors open, even during her memorial. [Redacted] brutally assaulted a homeless man suffering from severe bipolar disorder. Many of his employees have described him as misogynistic, homophobic, racist and sociopathic, and others have been deprived of overtime pay or sent on errands that demand hours out of their day without pay. You disgrace the memories of those Irish immigrants who founded the neighborhood of Bridgeport by perpetuating the exploitative mentality that lead to their suffering and deaths. You certainly don’t live in Bridgeport, on The Southwest Side or South Side of Chicago, you’re not from here, and you don’t even appear to like it here, so what exactly are you doing here? You don’t deserve the name.