Information on building Ohio fair food movement from Sue Carter

Welcome to the new and rapidly-growing partner in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers/Alliance for Fair Food Campaign to end poverty and slavery in the fields through corporate responsibility. Let one million Ohio voices be raised in support of the farmworkers whose years of suffering and hardship are being seen in newspapers, magazines, and, most recently, Barry Estabrook’s heart-rending, and fact-filled expose of the tomato industry. Join with us in asking the supermarkets– Kroger and Trader Joe’s to end this crisis now!

Ohio Fair Food launched at the Kroger Annual Board Meeting, June 25, 2011:

See separate email– I’m going to see if I can send this. Also I’ll try sending the latest from the CIW-online website.

Fair Food Fridays Schedule for September: Note–Sept. 30 to be announced following the exciting Fair Food Summit in Immokalee, Florida, where Ohio Fair Food will get the latest news and strategies for success from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers/Alliance for Fair Food Campaign.

In September, we’re adding a varied menu and later time-slot to spice up

our events.

9/2/11: Kroger Store Visit and walk-around, 5:30 to 6:00. 2090 Bethel Rd.

9/9/11: Kroger Demonstration and store visit, 5:30-6:30, 1350 North High

Street — bring friends for our major event of the month!

9/16/11: Individual store visits due to Fair Food Summit in Immokalee,

Florida

9/23/11: To be arranged and sent in a later email.

Mark September 9, 5:30 to 6:30 on your calendar and tell your friends. We

can really get public attention at this great location with busy street

and visible public sidewalk. it’s ready-made for our first major

demonstration, so I’ll bring signs and banners and other ways to let

Kroger know we’re gathering strength in Ohio.

9/16/11 — On Friday, September 16, Sue will be at the Fair Food Summit in

Immokalee getting the latest information on the Coalition and gathering

strategies for the year ahead. Individual supporters who are willing to do

Kroger visits can choose the time and place most convenient to them.

Leaflets will be provided on the 9th to all who wish to participate. Do

let us know if you visit a store, so we can add the store and your

participation to our reports.

Again, many thanks to everyone who came this past Friday. It was great to

see all of you and see so much enthusiasm and caring for ending poverty

and slavery in Ohio.

The first state-wide CIW/AFF Ohio Tour– October 18- October 27 with a great day of appearances in Columbus on October 24!

The tour announcement follows–

Representatives from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

(CIW) and the Student/Farmworker Alliance

(SFA) will be visiting Cleveland, Canton, Columbus,

Dayton and Cincinnati this October 19 through October 26, 2011, to build

awareness about their Campaign for Fair Food

and how students, community

members, people of faith and consumers can partner with farmworkers to

promote human rights and fair wages in the tomato supply chains of

supermarket giants Trader Joe’s and Kroger.

The CIW is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in

Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working

conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance

with national and international human rights standards. The CIW’s Campaign

for Fair Food has won unprecedented support

for fundamental farm labor

reforms from retail food industry leaders.

The Campaign for Fair Food seeks to improve wages and working conditions for

Florida tomato pickers by calling on major buyers of tomatoes to pay a

premium of one penny more per pound for their tomatoes, ensure that this

penny is passed down directly to farmworkers, and work together with the CIW

to establish and implement a code of conduct in their supply chains.

The other major facet of the CIW’s work — its Anti-Slavery campaign

— is an effort to put an end to

the continued existence of modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry.

To date, the CIW has worked together with the Department of Justice and the

FBI to uncover, investigate and federally prosecute seven cases of

modern-day slavery in Florida’s fields. The CIW is a founding member of the

Freedom Network USA, and through the Freedom Network Training Institute

(FNTI) also trains law enforcement and NGOs on how to eliminate forced labor

in their communities.

SFA is a national network of students and youth organizing in partnership

with farmworkers to eliminate sweatshop conditions and modern-day slavery in

the fields. SFA works closely with the CIW as a key driving force behind the

Campaign for Fair Food.

For selected national and international recognitions of the CIW’s work, see

http://www.ciw-online.org/highlights.html

See also,

* “Major Grower to Join Wage Plan

,”

Wall Street Journal, 10/13/10

* “One Penny More a Pound

,” New York

Times, 12/3/10

* “After a Long Fight, Farmworkers in Florida Win an Increase in Pay

,” New

York Times, 1/18/11

* “The True Cost of Tomatoes

,”

New York Times, 6/14/11

Marc Rodrigues | Student/Farmworker Alliance

(239) 292-3431 | sfalliance.org | ciw-online.org

2) the October CIW Ohio Tour blurb from SFA organizer Marc Rodrigues

Representatives from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

(CIW) and the Student/Farmworker Alliance

(SFA) will be visiting Cleveland, Canton, Columbus,

Dayton and Cincinnati this October 19 through October 26, 2011, to build

awareness about their Campaign for Fair Food

and how students, community

members, people of faith and consumers can partner with farmworkers to

promote human rights and fair wages in the tomato supply chains of

supermarket giants Trader Joe’s and Kroger.

The CIW is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in

Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working

conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance

with national and international human rights standards. The CIW’s Campaign

for Fair Food has won unprecedented support

for fundamental farm labor

reforms from retail food industry leaders.

The Campaign for Fair Food seeks to improve wages and working conditions for

Florida tomato pickers by calling on major buyers of tomatoes to pay a

premium of one penny more per pound for their tomatoes, ensure that this

penny is passed down directly to farmworkers, and work together with the CIW

to establish and implement a code of conduct in their supply chains.

The other major facet of the CIW’s work — its Anti-Slavery campaign

— is an effort to put an end to

the continued existence of modern-day slavery in the agricultural industry.

To date, the CIW has worked together with the Department of Justice and the

FBI to uncover, investigate and federally prosecute seven cases of

modern-day slavery in Florida’s fields. The CIW is a founding member of the

Freedom Network USA, and through the Freedom Network Training Institute

(FNTI) also trains law enforcement and NGOs on how to eliminate forced labor

in their communities.

SFA is a national network of students and youth organizing in partnership

with farmworkers to eliminate sweatshop conditions and modern-day slavery in

the fields. SFA works closely with the CIW as a key driving force behind the

Campaign for Fair Food.

For selected national and international recognitions of the CIW’s work, see

http://www.ciw-online.org/highlights.html

See also,

* “Major Grower to Join Wage Plan

,”

Wall Street Journal, 10/13/10

* “One Penny More a Pound

,” New York

Times, 12/3/10

* “After a Long Fight, Farmworkers in Florida Win an Increase in Pay

,” New

York Times, 1/18/11

* “The True Cost of Tomatoes

,”

New York Times, 6/14/11

Marc Rodrigues | Student/Farmworker Alliance

(239) 292-3431 | sfalliance.org | ciw-online.org

Working as a reporter/Who is the message from? Who is the message to ?

(Saved on my personal files as “Ideas for Journalism Projects”)

I intend to get a clearer sense of (1) who the message is from and (2) who the message is to.

My guess is that the message is likely to be from the rural Ohioans who communicate to me about their story about how factory farms are affecting their communities.

My guess is that I/we intend to communicate this message to a variety of people. Here are some of the people that come to mind, as I write this sentence. But this is subject to change.

Anne Fisher, host of WOSU’s public affairs program “All Sides with Anne Fisher.”

David S. Lewis, Editor of 614 Magazine

Bill Cohen, Ohio State House News Bureau

Jo Ingles, Ohio State House News Bureau

What do I want ?

I want Nick to give me a basic level of respect. I don’t expect him to make small-talk with me or be my friend on Facebook, but effectively serving our guests requires us to communicate to one another. At a minimum , I want him to stop making insulting comments either directly or indirectly about my age, or my ability as a waiter. Secondly, I want him to reciprocate when it comes to having team spirit.

In the wake of our discussion with Brett last week, Nick has stopped making insulting comments to me directly, opting now to make them indirectly. Yesterday, he made his usual derogatory comment about my age.

“How does it feel to be a 40-year-old waiter?” He didn’t say it to me directly, but he said it so I could hear it. On Saturday night he said while talking with Joey at the expo table that he’d like to see me dead. Joey may remember this comment because he responded to Nick by saying “your honesty is refreshing.” It wasn’t a joke. It made me uncomfortable.

In terms of me wanting Nick to reciprocate team spirit, I run his food and otherwise help serve his guests, no matter how bad our working relationship is. By contrast, unless you or another manager is actually watching over him, he won’t run my food or assist me in any other way. When does help , he tends to berate me in front of my coworkers for not being able to handle my section.

If I may make a suggestion to you, I wouldn’t direct Nick to “leave Tom alone” or “don’t talk to him.” Instead I ask that you please advise him to (1) give me a basic level of respect, and (2) set his personal feelings toward me aside so as to be a better team player, leading by example.

What are the specific behaviors I am having a problem with ? The short answer, as mentioned above, is that he is currently making hostile remarks, not directly to me but about me, and he is continuing with not reciprocating team spirit.

Before I give you the longer answer I will tell you why much of the specific behavior I have had a problem with are things that happened some time ago: I have avoided documenting and seeking help from corporate management about this because I didn’t want to create more work for you, Miro or Brett. Also, I continue to hold on to the hope of resolving this in-house.

But I think it’s relevant that during the past 2 years Nick has shoved me on multiple occasions, shouted at me in close range, lied about me, assigned me extra side-work, ‘sabotaged ‘ my side-work, and on a regular basis up to the present, has made insulting comments about my age and my ability to do my job.

But why would Nick do this? Am I just paranoid ?

You advice and your opinions are welcome, Ed. I won’t be offended or hold it against you. There is still a part of me that wonders whether I am just simply out of touch with people and turning into a overly sensitive old man. Also, despite referring to myself as a queer and as a feminist, I am wounding my pride somewhat by taking this approach. But I know my limits, and I am afraid if I don’t seek your help, I may end up getting fired by lashing out verbally at Nick at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In addition to not wanting to create more paperwork for you or Brett, one of the reasons I have hesitated to formally seek help is that I am not sure about exactly what may motivate Nick’s behavior toward me.

My age has factored into many of Nick’s derogatory comments toward me, but I would be dishonest if I said this is primarily a case of age-based workplace harassment. Also, I don’t think it’s related to my sexuality, for various reasons.

I honestly don’t know what motivates Nick to bully me. But what I do know is that I want to take responsibility for getting him to modify his behavior. Filing this formal request for help is the logical
next step.

Maybe I just have a problem with authority

Setting aside the question of whether Nick leads by example, I will say that on many occasions I have pledged to him my willingness to comply with his direction as a shift leader and trainer. You witnessed this on one occasion about a year and a half ago. Do you remember ? I repeated that promise in the office in front of Brett last week.

I said it to Bret and Nick last week and I say it now to you Ed, not only as something that I will do in the future on the condition that Nick gives me basic respect, but as something I have been doing all along, despite my perception that he has been abusing that authority.

I have confronted him about not only how he delivers his instructions—his “tone” — but also about the fact that he engages, nearly daily, in insulting commentary about me that has nothing to do with his role as a trainer and shift leader. In fact that behavior, if I may say so, detracts from his leadership. But to get to the point, I don’t have a problem with authority. I have a problem with being disrespected, especially when it occurs nearly daily.

I understand that if I disregard Nick’s authority as a trainer I am in effect disrespecting you and the other people who have entrusted him with it. But, if I may ask, doesn’t Nick show disrespect for your decision to allow me to continue to work for you by way of his ongoing disparagement of me as a server ?

On Friday night, while standing between the 50s and the 60s, Nick vocalized one of his thoughts saying, with our guests nearby, “ he needs to not work here anymore. ” He said this as I consulted Oscar about moving the pitcher stand so as to accommodate the large party that needed more room.

In fact, come to think of it, my interaction with Oscar on Friday night involved me sensing that I must formally address my conflict my Nick. While Nick was complaining about me moving the pitcher stand, I felt the very familiar fight- or- flight feeling and came across as overbearing to Oscar.

I apologized to Oscar profusely on Friday and made sure things were patched up on Sunday. My problem with Nick didn’t excuse me being over-bearing to Oscar, but it’s yet another reminder to me that I must address this situation, out of self-preservation. I feel on edge when around Nick and feel backed into a corner, and therefore prone to lash out.

That fight-or flight reaction detracts from my ability to be hospitable toward my guests and cooperative toward my coworkers and managers. Ironically, some people end up perceiving me as the problem. This is my dilemma. If I fight back, I get into trouble. If I just take what he dishes out, I feel degraded and he seems encouraged to continue with his bullying.

Sure, sometimes people in supervisory roles might use a harsh tone in the heat of the moment. Even people who aren’t supervisors, such as me, may sometimes come across as overbearing or otherwise harsh. I have done it, but I apologize when that happens. Nick never apologizes and has told me that he can do whatever he wants at Abuelo’s and that people who have a problem with him end up not working there anymore.

Do I just need to lighten up and have a sense of humor ?

To be fair, I think it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish rough-and-tumble joking around from workplace bullying. In the case of my conflict with Nick, my own attempts to respond to him as if it’s all in good fun have likely made it harder for you to have a clear understanding of what may be going on.

Further, my attempts to fight fire with fire may have also complicated your ability to address this matter, making it more likely that you and Brett would think of this as a conflict of personalities as opposed to it being a case of workplace bullying or harassment. But as far as me having a sense of humor is concerned, you can be the judge of that.

I am not against joking around, though I think it can overlap with workpl
ace bullying. Joking around obviously can be good for morale. It relieves stress and can make us more creative at doing our jobs. But the humor should be shared.

The rule of thumb I use is that if someone who’s the butt of the joke doesn’t seem to be sharing in the humor, I make a point of telling the person that I am only joking. If he or she still seems displeased with my attempts at humor, I apologize and try my best to not repeat the offense.

On top of that, if a person comes to me and tells me that they are offended then– I would like to think– I would have even more motivation to honor this person’s perceptions and modify my behavior.

This happened once with Graziella. She told me about 3years ago that some of my vulgar jokes made her uncomfortable. So since then, I have changed my behavior, not only in terms of what I say directly to her but also in terms of what I say whenever she is anywhere within earshot.

As you likely recall, you directed me to limit my interactions with Christian Wenke. I complied, though to this day I have at best only a clue as to what I may have done to offend her.

Nick hasn’t done this toward me. Instead, he has said “ if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” He has even gone so far as to tell me he can make my life miserable if he wants to.

Why seek help from management, instead of working this out on my own ?

Telling Nick that his behavior offends me or makes me uncomfortable has not worked. Talking with some of his friends about this such as Stacie and , more recently, Jonathan has not helped. Fighting back, running away, or taking it silently doesn’t work. No offense, but talking with you, Miro, Steve, and Brett on so many occasions that I have now lost count hasn’t help much either. That’s why I am now creating a paper trail.

A word or two on fighting back is that engaging in heated arguments is bad for business. Guests typically don’t want to hear angry, raised voices coming from the kitchen or to see angry facial expressions or aggressive body language when we return to the service floor.

But running away from the situation by calling off or quitting is not something I am willing to live with either. In my opinion, I contribute to the success of Abuelo’s, so formally addressing this issue is the way forward.

With all due respect to the restaurant leadership above me, on more than one occasion, my attempt to stand up for myself in the face of Nick’s hostile behavior has been interpreted by some members of management as as me displaying disrespect for Nick’s authority as a trainer and shift leader.

Sorry to repeat myself, but I have run short on time for revising this statement. I don’t have a problem with authority. I have a problem with being disrespected. In the final analysis, I am seeking help from management because Nick has not given me such to work with in terms of resolving this matter. He said to me on at least one occasion that he will either make me want to quit Abuelo’s or get me fired.

Ed,

I believe in the power of written communication. In this case, I am using it not as a weapon, but as a tool for bringing about a higher level of awareness, hopefully not just for me.

Thanks,
Tom Over  614 202 0178

—————–begin statement/formal request for assistance from Abuelo’s Columbus in-house management———–

To Ed, acting GM

What do I want ?

I want Nick to give me a basic level of respect.   I don’t expect him to make small-talk with me or to be my friend on Facebook. But effectively serving our guests requires us to communicate to one another.  I want him to stop making insulting comments either directly or indirectly about my age, my ability to do my job, or about how much he dislikes me.  Secondly, I want him to reciprocate when it comes to having team spirit.

Nick and I spoke with Brett last week.   In the wake of that discussion, Nick has stopped making insulting comments to me directly, opting now to make them indirectly. On Saturday night, Feb 20,  he said while talking with Joey at the expo table that he’d like to see me dead.  Joey may remember this comment because he responded to Nick by saying “your honesty is refreshing.”  Nick was serious, as far as I could tell. It made me uncomfortable. 

Regarding Nick not reciprocating team spirit,  I run his food and otherwise help serve his guests, no matter how bad our working relationship is.   By contrast, unless you or another manager is actually watching over him, he won’t run my food or assist me in any other way.  When he does help , he tends to rail at me in front of my coworkers for not being able to handle my section. 

If I may make a suggestion to you, I wouldn’t direct Nick to “leave Tom alone” or to not talk to me.  Instead I ask that you please advise him to  (1)  give me a basic level of respect, and (2)  set his personal feelings toward me aside so as  to be a better team player, leading by example.  Perhaps a rule of thumb for Nick should be “if you wouldn’t say it or do it to Graziella, Joey, Jonathan, or Jennifer, you probably want to think twice about saying it or doing it to Tom.”

What are the specific behaviors I am having a problem with ?

The short answer, as mentioned above,  is that he is currently making insulting remarks, not directly to me but about me, and he is continuing with not reciprocating team spirit.  

Taking a longer view, Nick has during the past 2 years done things such as yanking a beverage tray from under my arm while on the service floor,  shoved me on multiple occasions, shouted at me in close range, lied about me, assigned me extra side-work,  ‘sabotaged ‘ my side-work, and on a regular basis up to the present,  has made insulting comments about my age and my ability to do my job. 

But why would Nick do this? 

I don’t read minds.  But my age has factored into many of Nick’s derogatory comments toward me.  In some ironic way, my sexual orientation may be a factor as well.

I am aware that age is a protected class in terms of federal and state laws pertaining to workplace harassment, and that the City of Columbus has laws pertaining to sexual orientation.  Food Concepts International may have policies about those protected classes as well, but I have not looked them up yet.

As I file this formal request for help, I don’t want to overstate the factor of age as a part of a dishonest attempt to amplify the sound of my squeaky wheel.  To put it simply, I am reaching out for help, knowing my limitations and weaknesses. I am not trying to build a case against Nick or anyone else.  I try to be strenuously benevolent. 

Maybe I just have a problem with authority

On many occasions I have told Nick that I have no problem with following his direction as a trainer or shift leader.  In fact, I have been complying with Nick in this way all along, despite my perception that he has been abusing that authority to bully me. 

I have confronted Nick about not only how he delivers his instructions—his “tone” — but also about the fact that he engages, nearly daily,  in insulting commentary about me.  That sort of behavior has nothing to do with his role as a trainer and shift leader.   In fact, if I may say so, it detracts from the credibility of his leadership. But to get to the point,  I don’t have  a problem with authority. I have a problem with being disrespected, especially when it occurs nearly daily. 

I understand that if I disregard Nick’s authority as a trainer I am in effect disrespecting you and the other people who have entrusted him with it. So I don’t do it.  But, if I may ask, isn’t Nick showing  disrespect for your judgment ?  He continues to disparage me as a waiter, despite the fact that you continue to allow me to work for you.  If I am so terrible as Nick would have it, why am I still here ?  

On Friday night, while standing between the 50s and the 60s, Nick vocalized one of his thoughts saying, with my guests and his guests nearby,  “ he needs to not work here anymore. ”  He said this as I consulted Oscar about moving the pitcher stand so as to accommodate the large party that needed more room.

Sure, sometimes people in supervisory roles might use a harsh tone in the heat of the moment. Even people who aren’t supervisors, such as me,  may sometimes come across as overbearing or otherwise harsh. 

For example, during my conflict with Nick about adding a table to my party Friday night, I came across as overbearing toward Oscar. I apologized to him. I didn’t use my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick’s behavior as an excuse. But, come to think of it, it was yet another warning sign to me that if I value my job I will move forward with creating a paper trail, given the fact that fighting back against Nick tends to get me into trouble.  

By the way,  Nick never apologizes to me. How many times do I shake hands with this guy, look him in the eye, and commit myself to starting over on a clean slate ? I have done that at least three times for the sake of avoiding paperwork for you and Brett. I did it last week. But Nick won’t have any of it. During the past week, the best he’s offered me is insulting me indirectly instead of saying it to my face as is his usual practice.  

Do I just need to lighten up and have a sense of humor ? 

To be fair, I think it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish rough-and-tumble joking around from workplace bullying. In the case of my conflict with Nick, my own attempts to respond to him as if it’s all in good fun have likely made it harder for you to have a clear understanding of what may be going on.

Further, my attempts to fight fire with fire may have also complicated your ability to address this matter.  It may have made it more likely that you, Brett, Miro, and Steve would think of this as a conflict of personalities as opposed to it being a case of workplace bullying or harassment.  But as far as me having a sense of humor is concerned, you can be the judge of that.

I am not against joking around, though I think it can overlap with workplace bullying. Joking around obviously can be good for morale. It relieves stress and can make us  more creative at doing our jobs. But the humor should be shared. 

The general rule I use is that  if someone who’s the butt of the joke doesn’t seem to be sharing in the humor, I make a point of telling the person that I am only joking. If he or she still seems displeased with my attempts at humor, I apologize and try my best to not repeat the offense. 

On top of that, if a person comes to me and tells me that they are offended,  then  I would have even more motivation to honor this person’s perceptions and modify my behavior.

This happened once with Graziella. She told me about 3 years ag
o that some of my vulgar jokes made her uncomfortable. So  since then, I have changed my behavior,  not only in terms of what I say directly to her but also in terms of what I say whenever she is anywhere within earshot.

As another example of how to respect one’s coworkers,   you directed me to limit my interactions with Christina Wienke some time ago.  I complied, though to this day I have at best only a clue as to what I may have done to offend her.

Nick won’t do this, at least not toward me. Instead, he has said “ if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  He has even gone so far as to tell me  he can make my life miserable if he wants to and that I better “know my place.” 

Why seek help from management, instead of working this out on my own ?

Telling Nick that his behavior offends me or makes me uncomfortable has not worked. Talking with some of his friends about this such as Stacie and , more recently, Jonathan has not helped. Fighting back, running away, or taking it silently doesn’t work. No offense, but I have talked  informally  with you, Miro, Steve, and Brett about this on many occasions.  Actually, I have lost count of them.  That’s why I am now creating a paper trail.

A word or two on fighting back is that engaging in heated arguments is bad for business. Guests typically don’t want to hear  angry, raised voices coming from the kitchen or to see angry facial expressions or aggressive body language when we return to the service floor. 

Getting riled up like that tends to detract from my ability to be hospitable toward my guests and cooperative toward my coworkers and managers.  Ironically, amidst my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick,  some people may end up perceiving me as the one who is causing the problem.  This is my dilemma. If I fight back, I get into trouble.  If I just take what he dishes out, I feel degraded and he seems encouraged to continue with his bullying.

In the final analysis, I am submitting in writing a request for help from management because Nick has not given me such to work with in terms of resolving this matter.

He has said to me that he can do whatever he wants at Abuelo’s without any consequences, or to use the words he spoke  Saturday, Feb 20,  during an argument with Stephanie Swint,  “I run this place.”  He has told me  that people who have a problem with him end up not working here anymore. On more than one than occasion,  he has said he will either make me want to quit Abuelo’s or get me fired.  I am writing this statement in an attempt to prevent that from happening. 

Thanks, Tom Over , 2-22-10

————-end of statement/ written request for help from in-house management————————

Ed,

I believe in the power of written communication. In this case, I am using it not as a weapon, but as a tool for bringing about a higher level of awareness, hopefully not just for me.

Thanks,
Tom Over  614 202 0178

—————–begin statement/formal request for assistance from Abuelo’s Columbus in-house management———–

To Ed, acting GM

What do I want ?

I want Nick to give me a basic level of respect.   I don’t expect him to make small-talk with me or to be my friend on Facebook. But effectively serving our guests requires us to communicate to one another.  I want him to stop making insulting comments either directly or indirectly about my age, my ability to do my job, or about how much he dislikes me.  Secondly, I want him to reciprocate when it comes to having team spirit.

Nick and I spoke with Brett last week.   In the wake of that discussion, Nick has stopped making insulting comments to me directly, opting now to make them indirectly. On Saturday night, Feb 20,  he said while talking with Joey at the expo table that he’d like to see me dead.  Joey may remember this comment because he responded to Nick by saying “your honesty is refreshing.”  Nick was serious, as far as I could tell. It made me uncomfortable. 

Regarding Nick not reciprocating team spirit,  I run his food and otherwise help serve his guests, no matter how bad our working relationship is.   By contrast, unless you or another manager is actually watching over him, he won’t run my food or assist me in any other way.  When he does help , he tends to rail at me in front of my coworkers for not being able to handle my section. 

If I may make a suggestion to you, I wouldn’t direct Nick to “leave Tom alone” or to not talk to me.  Instead I ask that you please advise him to  (1)  give me a basic level of respect, and (2)  set his personal feelings toward me aside so as  to be a better team player, leading by example.  Perhaps a rule of thumb for Nick should be “if you wouldn’t say it or do it to Graziella, Joey, Jonathan, or Jennifer, you probably want to think twice about saying it or doing it to Tom.”

What are the specific behaviors I am having a problem with ?

The short answer, as mentioned above,  is that he is currently making insulting remarks, not directly to me but about me, and he is continuing with not reciprocating team spirit.  

Taking a longer view, Nick has during the past 2 years done things such as yanking a beverage tray from under my arm while on the service floor,  shoved me on multiple occasions, shouted at me in close range, lied about me, assigned me extra side-work,  ‘sabotaged ‘ my side-work, and on a regular basis up to the present,  has made insulting comments about my age and my ability to do my job. 

But why would Nick do this? 

I don’t read minds.  But my age has factored into many of Nick’s derogatory comments toward me.  In some ironic way, my sexual orientation may be a factor as well.

I am aware that age is a protected class in terms of federal and state laws pertaining to workplace harassment, and that the City of Columbus has laws pertaining to sexual orientation.  Food Concepts International may have policies about those protected classes as well, but I have not looked them up yet.

As I file this formal request for help, I don’t want to overstate the factor of age as a part of a dishonest attempt to amplify the sound of my squeaky wheel.  To put it simply, I am reaching out for help, knowing my limitations and weaknesses. I am not trying to build a case against Nick or anyone else.  I try to be strenuously benevolent. 

Maybe I just have a problem with authority

On many occasions I have told Nick that I have no problem with following his direction as a trainer or shift leader.  In fact, I have been complying with Nick in this way all along, despite my perception that he has been abusing that authority to bully me. 

I have confronted Nick about not only how he delivers his instructions—his “tone” — but also about the fact that he engages, nearly daily,  in insulting commentary about me.  That sort of behavior has nothing to do with his role as a trainer and shift leader.   In fact, if I may say so, it detracts from the credibility of his leadership. But to get to the point,  I don’t have  a problem with authority. I have a problem with being disrespected, especially when it occurs nearly daily. 

I understand that if I disregard Nick’s authority as a trainer I am in effect disrespecting you and the other people who have entrusted him with it. So I don’t do it.  But, if I may ask, isn’t Nick showing  disrespect for your judgment ?  He continues to disparage me as a waiter, despite the fact that you continue to allow me to work for you.  If I am so terrible as Nick would have it, why am I still here ?  

On Friday night, while standing between the 50s and the 60s, Nick vocalized one of his thoughts saying, with my guests and his guests nearby,  “ he needs to not work here anymore. ”  He said this as I consulted Oscar about moving the pitcher stand so as to accommodate the large party that needed more room.

Sure, sometimes people in supervisory roles might use a harsh tone in the heat of the moment. Even people who aren’t supervisors, such as me,  may sometimes come across as overbearing or otherwise harsh. 

For example, during my conflict with Nick about adding a table to my party Friday night, I came across as overbearing toward Oscar. I apologized to him. I didn’t use my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick’s behavior as an excuse. But, come to think of it, it was yet another warning sign to me that if I value my job I will move forward with creating a paper trail, given the fact that fighting back against Nick tends to get me into trouble.  

By the way,  Nick never apologizes to me. How many times do I shake hands with this guy, look him in the eye, and commit myself to starting over on a clean slate ? I have done that at least three times for the sake of avoiding paperwork for you and Brett. I did it last week. But Nick won’t have any of it. During the past week, the best he’s offered me is insulting me indirectly instead of saying it to my face as is his usual practice.  

Do I just need to lighten up and have a sense of humor ? 

To be fair, I think it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish rough-and-tumble joking around from workplace bullying. In the case of my conflict with Nick, my own attempts to respond to him as if it’s all in good fun have likely made it harder for you to have a clear understanding of what may be going on.

Further, my attempts to fight fire with fire may have also complicated your ability to address this matter.  It may have made it more likely that you, Brett, Miro, and Steve would think of this as a conflict of personalities as opposed to it being a case of workplace bullying or harassment.  But as far as me having a sense of humor is concerned, you can be the judge of that.

I am not against joking around, though I think it can overlap with workplace bullying. Joking around obviously can be good for morale. It relieves stress and can make us  more creative at doing our jobs. But the humor should be shared. 

The general rule I use is that  if someone who’s the butt of the joke doesn’t seem to be sharing in the humor, I make a point of telling the person that I am only joking. If he or she still seems displeased with my attempts at humor, I apologize and try my best to not repeat the offense. 

On top of that, if a person comes to me and tells me that they are offended,  then  I would have even more motivation to honor this person’s perceptions and modify my behavior.

This happened once with Graziella. She told me about 3 years ag
o that some of my vulgar jokes made her uncomfortable. So  since then, I have changed my behavior,  not only in terms of what I say directly to her but also in terms of what I say whenever she is anywhere within earshot.

As another example of how to respect one’s coworkers,   you directed me to limit my interactions with Christina Wienke some time ago.  I complied, though to this day I have at best only a clue as to what I may have done to offend her.

Nick won’t do this, at least not toward me. Instead, he has said “ if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  He has even gone so far as to tell me  he can make my life miserable if he wants to and that I better “know my place.” 

Why seek help from management, instead of working this out on my own ?

Telling Nick that his behavior offends me or makes me uncomfortable has not worked. Talking with some of his friends about this such as Stacie and , more recently, Jonathan has not helped. Fighting back, running away, or taking it silently doesn’t work. No offense, but I have talked  informally  with you, Miro, Steve, and Brett about this on many occasions.  Actually, I have lost count of them.  That’s why I am now creating a paper trail.

A word or two on fighting back is that engaging in heated arguments is bad for business. Guests typically don’t want to hear  angry, raised voices coming from the kitchen or to see angry facial expressions or aggressive body language when we return to the service floor. 

Getting riled up like that tends to detract from my ability to be hospitable toward my guests and cooperative toward my coworkers and managers.  Ironically, amidst my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick,  some people may end up perceiving me as the one who is causing the problem.  This is my dilemma. If I fight back, I get into trouble.  If I just take what he dishes out, I feel degraded and he seems encouraged to continue with his bullying.

In the final analysis, I am submitting in writing a request for help from management because Nick has not given me such to work with in terms of resolving this matter.

He has said to me that he can do whatever he wants at Abuelo’s without any consequences, or to use the words he spoke  Saturday, Feb 20,  during an argument with Stephanie Swint,  “I run this place.”  He has told me  that people who have a problem with him end up not working here anymore. On more than one than occasion,  he has said he will either make me want to quit Abuelo’s or get me fired.  I am writing this statement in an attempt to prevent that from happening. 

Thanks, Tom Over , 2-22-10

————-end of statement/ written request for help from in-house management————————

Ed,

I believe in the power of written communication. In this case, I am using it not as a weapon, but as a tool for bringing about a higher level of awareness, hopefully not just for me.

Thanks,
Tom Over  614 202 0178

—————–begin statement/formal request for assistance from Abuelo’s Columbus in-house management———–

To Ed, acting GM

What do I want ?

I want Nick to give me a basic level of respect.   I don’t expect him to make small-talk with me or to be my friend on Facebook. But effectively serving our guests requires us to communicate to one another.  I want him to stop making insulting comments either directly or indirectly about my age, my ability to do my job, or about how much he dislikes me.  Secondly, I want him to reciprocate when it comes to having team spirit.

Nick and I spoke with Brett last week.   In the wake of that discussion, Nick has stopped making insulting comments to me directly, opting now to make them indirectly. On Saturday night, Feb 20,  he said while talking with Joey at the expo table that he’d like to see me dead.  Joey may remember this comment because he responded to Nick by saying “your honesty is refreshing.”  Nick was serious, as far as I could tell. It made me uncomfortable. 

Regarding Nick not reciprocating team spirit,  I run his food and otherwise help serve his guests, no matter how bad our working relationship is.   By contrast, unless you or another manager is actually watching over him, he won’t run my food or assist me in any other way.  When he does help , he tends to rail at me in front of my coworkers for not being able to handle my section. 

If I may make a suggestion to you, I wouldn’t direct Nick to “leave Tom alone” or to not talk to me.  Instead I ask that you please advise him to  (1)  give me a basic level of respect, and (2)  set his personal feelings toward me aside so as  to be a better team player, leading by example.  Perhaps a rule of thumb for Nick should be “if you wouldn’t say it or do it to Graziella, Joey, Jonathan, or Jennifer, you probably want to think twice about saying it or doing it to Tom.”

What are the specific behaviors I am having a problem with ?

The short answer, as mentioned above,  is that he is currently making insulting remarks, not directly to me but about me, and he is continuing with not reciprocating team spirit.  

Taking a longer view, Nick has during the past 2 years done things such as yanking a beverage tray from under my arm while on the service floor,  shoved me on multiple occasions, shouted at me in close range, lied about me, assigned me extra side-work,  ‘sabotaged ‘ my side-work, and on a regular basis up to the present,  has made insulting comments about my age and my ability to do my job. 

But why would Nick do this? 

I don’t read minds.  But my age has factored into many of Nick’s derogatory comments toward me.  In some ironic way, my sexual orientation may be a factor as well.

I am aware that age is a protected class in terms of federal and state laws pertaining to workplace harassment, and that the City of Columbus has laws pertaining to sexual orientation.  Food Concepts International may have policies about those protected classes as well, but I have not looked them up yet.

As I file this formal request for help, I don’t want to overstate the factor of age as a part of a dishonest attempt to amplify the sound of my squeaky wheel.  To put it simply, I am reaching out for help, knowing my limitations and weaknesses. I am not trying to build a case against Nick or anyone else.  I try to be strenuously benevolent. 

Maybe I just have a problem with authority

On many occasions I have told Nick that I have no problem with following his direction as a trainer or shift leader.  In fact, I have been complying with Nick in this way all along, despite my perception that he has been abusing that authority to bully me. 

I have confronted Nick about not only how he delivers his instructions—his “tone” — but also about the fact that he engages, nearly daily,  in insulting commentary about me.  That sort of behavior has nothing to do with his role as a trainer and shift leader.   In fact, if I may say so, it detracts from the credibility of his leadership. But to get to the point,  I don’t have  a problem with authority. I have a problem with being disrespected, especially when it occurs nearly daily. 

I understand that if I disregard Nick’s authority as a trainer I am in effect disrespecting you and the other people who have entrusted him with it. So I don’t do it.  But, if I may ask, isn’t Nick showing  disrespect for your judgment ?  He continues to disparage me as a waiter, despite the fact that you continue to allow me to work for you.  If I am so terrible as Nick would have it, why am I still here ?  

On Friday night, while standing between the 50s and the 60s, Nick vocalized one of his thoughts saying, with my guests and his guests nearby,  “ he needs to not work here anymore. ”  He said this as I consulted Oscar about moving the pitcher stand so as to accommodate the large party that needed more room.

Sure, sometimes people in supervisory roles might use a harsh tone in the heat of the moment. Even people who aren’t supervisors, such as me,  may sometimes come across as overbearing or otherwise harsh. 

For example, during my conflict with Nick about adding a table to my party Friday night, I came across as overbearing toward Oscar. I apologized to him. I didn’t use my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick’s behavior as an excuse. But, come to think of it, it was yet another warning sign to me that if I value my job I will move forward with creating a paper trail, given the fact that fighting back against Nick tends to get me into trouble.  

By the way,  Nick never apologizes to me. How many times do I shake hands with this guy, look him in the eye, and commit myself to starting over on a clean slate ? I have done that at least three times for the sake of avoiding paperwork for you and Brett. I did it last week. But Nick won’t have any of it. During the past week, the best he’s offered me is insulting me indirectly instead of saying it to my face as is his usual practice.  

Do I just need to lighten up and have a sense of humor ? 

To be fair, I think it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish rough-and-tumble joking around from workplace bullying. In the case of my conflict with Nick, my own attempts to respond to him as if it’s all in good fun have likely made it harder for you to have a clear understanding of what may be going on.

Further, my attempts to fight fire with fire may have also complicated your ability to address this matter.  It may have made it more likely that you, Brett, Miro, and Steve would think of this as a conflict of personalities as opposed to it being a case of workplace bullying or harassment.  But as far as me having a sense of humor is concerned, you can be the judge of that.

I am not against joking around, though I think it can overlap with workplace bullying. Joking around obviously can be good for morale. It relieves stress and can make us  more creative at doing our jobs. But the humor should be shared. 

The general rule I use is that  if someone who’s the butt of the joke doesn’t seem to be sharing in the humor, I make a point of telling the person that I am only joking. If he or she still seems displeased with my attempts at humor, I apologize and try my best to not repeat the offense. 

On top of that, if a person comes to me and tells me that they are offended,  then  I would have even more motivation to honor this person’s perceptions and modify my behavior.

This happened once with Graziella. She told me about 3 years ag
o that some of my vulgar jokes made her uncomfortable. So  since then, I have changed my behavior,  not only in terms of what I say directly to her but also in terms of what I say whenever she is anywhere within earshot.

As another example of how to respect one’s coworkers,   you directed me to limit my interactions with Christina Wienke some time ago.  I complied, though to this day I have at best only a clue as to what I may have done to offend her.

Nick won’t do this, at least not toward me. Instead, he has said “ if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  He has even gone so far as to tell me  he can make my life miserable if he wants to and that I better “know my place.” 

Why seek help from management, instead of working this out on my own ?

Telling Nick that his behavior offends me or makes me uncomfortable has not worked. Talking with some of his friends about this such as Stacie and , more recently, Jonathan has not helped. Fighting back, running away, or taking it silently doesn’t work. No offense, but I have talked  informally  with you, Miro, Steve, and Brett about this on many occasions.  Actually, I have lost count of them.  That’s why I am now creating a paper trail.

A word or two on fighting back is that engaging in heated arguments is bad for business. Guests typically don’t want to hear  angry, raised voices coming from the kitchen or to see angry facial expressions or aggressive body language when we return to the service floor. 

Getting riled up like that tends to detract from my ability to be hospitable toward my guests and cooperative toward my coworkers and managers.  Ironically, amidst my fight-or-flight reaction to Nick,  some people may end up perceiving me as the one who is causing the problem.  This is my dilemma. If I fight back, I get into trouble.  If I just take what he dishes out, I feel degraded and he seems encouraged to continue with his bullying.

In the final analysis, I am submitting in writing a request for help from management because Nick has not given me such to work with in terms of resolving this matter.

He has said to me that he can do whatever he wants at Abuelo’s without any consequences, or to use the words he spoke  Saturday, Feb 20,  during an argument with Stephanie Swint,  “I run this place.”  He has told me  that people who have a problem with him end up not working here anymore. On more than one than occasion,  he has said he will either make me want to quit Abuelo’s or get me fired.  I am writing this statement in an attempt to prevent that from happening. 

Thanks, Tom Over , 2-22-10

————-end of statement/ written request for help from in-house management————————

Of course white as well.  Unfortunately our racist society here in America has kept our citizens who are of color in the lower classes of society, which are targeted by the military industrial complex.  There is a high-tech military recruiting center that allows children as young as 14 to come play video warfare games for free.  This is directly targeting a poorer segment of our society.