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Monday, February 4, 2013

Cherry Street Coffee Update: Sick-Leave Surcharge Signs Removed, Owner Calls Paid Sick Leave "Fantastic"

Posted by on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 12:14 PM

On Friday, I reported on Cherry Street Coffee's "sick-leave surcharge" signs, which owner Ali Ghambari had posted at all the local coffee chain's locations to announce a new 1.5 percent surcharge per order in response to Seattle's new mandated paid-sick-leave law.

Yesterday, KOMO News put out a story about the signs, quoting Ghambari as saying of the paid-sick-leave law, "It's a fantastic policy." Wow, really? Fantastic? Because when I talked to him on Friday, he didn't seem too thrilled about it; nor did he seem to understand it all that well.

About those signs:

[Ghambari] says so many people were reading the wrong message between the lines—and blogging negatively about it—that he pulled all the signs after three days… There is now an empty space by Cherry Street's cash registers where the signs used to be.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, he hasn't stopped charging an extra fee to cover what he thinks offering sick leave will cost him, he's just taken down the signs announcing it.

Ghambari told me on Friday, "This is mandatory dollars that you have to put out for [employees]… My employees know hey, you're gonna get 40 hours time off for sick leave; even if you are not sick, you'll get that paid to you anyway… I don't want my employees calling in sick when they're not sick to get a day off." Under Seattle's law, employees actually must be sick, caring for a sick family member, or doing preventative care to take sick days. See a summary here.

I also got an e-mail from Alex Stone this weekend. Stone works for the Economic Opportunity Institute, which helped draft Seattle's sick-leave policy, and he points out a further misunderstanding on Ghambari's part—when he implied that he could be required to offer an employee 80 hours of paid sick time in a year, since he thought 40 hours of rollover would combine with 40 hours of annually accrued sick time. "He clearly didn't read the employer FAQs or speak with anyone at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights," says Stone, who explains: "Someone can accrue up to 40 hours per year working at Cherry Street, and if they don't use any of their leave they can carry it over to the next year. HOWEVER, they won't then accrue more (like he says, 80 hours). They're capped at 40, unless their employer allows them more."


Comments (17) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Hey, Ali, nice backpedaling. But I figure you're first reaction was the true one. You just don't want to lose business. I also figure you donate to GOP candidates and other like-minded asshole causes. So nice try but I have no confidence that if I spend my money at your coffee house that it won't go to teabagger causes.
Posted by NineOneFour on February 4, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 16
@15, because Rush Limbaugh told him not to do it...well until he had to by law.

I did notice that they cleaned up their facebook page of all the customers saying they were going to boycott his store.

Again, if he needs to raise the price of coffee for the sick leave that's one thing. But he decide to act like some Ayn Randian Revolutionary or Glenn Beck wanna be. That's what made him a fool
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 4, 2013 at 6:31 PM · Report this
If this prick thinks sick leave is such a 'fantastic' idea, then why did he wait til it was mandatory?
Posted by SuperSteve on February 4, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 14

How is the government supposed to provide sick leave? These are employees in the private sector.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 4, 2013 at 3:41 PM · Report this
DOUG. 13
I'd love to see every one of his 45 employees call in sick on the same day. Maybe Ghambari's birthday.
Posted by DOUG. on February 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 12
Huh. Some guy trusted the words of right-wing media and didn't bother to do any actual research.

Color me shocked.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM · Report this
watchout5 11
He saw dollar signs.
Posted by watchout5 on February 4, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
The classic Ali backpedal. Figured he'd do it. Silly man.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 4, 2013 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 9
Too bad the wrong business is being vilified. You people should have the same hatred for the Government as it IS the job of the government to provide health care and sick leave. But taking on the big boy means being brave. Yelling at the little guy not so much.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 4, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this
As idiotic as this move was on the owner's part, I can't help but think that not going there will negatively impact his staff (which I agree are as nice as many in the prior post said) and make them pay for a stupid decision on their boss' part. That isn't really fair. I'll still go.

Posted by PA Native on February 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
foolish-rain 7
I was hoping he'd go the other way and completely breakdown his prices into a series of "surcharges": rent, water, electricity, napkins, stir sticks, coffee, cups, lids, salaries, insurance. Just hundreds of signs explaining what percentage of the cost goes to what overhead cost...
Posted by foolish-rain on February 4, 2013 at 1:11 PM · Report this
14.16.020 B, C, and G
Combined they say that you accrue past 40, but 40 hours is the max that gets carried over and which must be allowed to be used in a year.
More could obviously be allowed by an employer.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 4, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this

Posted by TLFTG on February 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Former Lurker 4
Thanks once again for The Stranger to break the story and the do the reporting while local mainstream media try to pick it up like they did any actual work....
Posted by Former Lurker on February 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
lostboy 3
So Anna, you're going to update the original Slog post to clarify that Ghambari's fear of 80-hour accruals is erroneous, right?
Posted by lostboy on February 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
My understanding was that additional time would accrue, but the employer was only required to pay them for (in this case) 40 hours a year.

I shall have to double check.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
lucidslumber 1
Too late. Fuck this guy.
Posted by lucidslumber on February 4, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this

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