Hi! Boy, I’ve been busy at work. No time to slack. And who ultimately suffers because of that? You do, my dear sweet Internet… you do.
I’m no less busy today, but I have to vent for a moment. Some background:
If you don’t live in northeast Ohio, you may not be aware that Tops Markets (a regional grocery store chain) pulled out of Ohio last year. That left upwards of 4,000 full- and part-time employees out of work. Rival grocery store Giant Eagle bought a bunch of the stores, and a lot of the Tops employees who had worked in those stores were re-hired. But anyway.
When those Tops employees were given their pink slips, they were given severance pay, and were also paid out for unused vacation time. Then, just this week, it was reported that due to a calculation error, some of these employees were given more than they were owned, and Tops was now asking for that money back. A firestorm of controversy erupted, and today Tops announced that they would no longer seek repayment of that money.
Which I completely understand. This company laid off a whole lot of people. They made the mistake of over-paying them (to the tune of a couple hundred dollars each... no-one got a magic ticket of a million dollars or anything). Clearly, the smart PR thing to do is just eat that money--a total of nearly $400,000. That’s a big chunk of cash, even for a big company; but it’s probably smarter to pay that then deal with negative news reports for the next year.
But here’s where I get pissed.
One of the recipients of a larger-than-deserved check was Crystal Weatherspoon, a 12-year employee of Tops. She is quoted in the Plain Dealer today saying, "I’m happy about the situation because there are people who owe more than I owe… It wasn’t right, and I guess they came to the conclusion that it wasn’t right."
Tom Robertson, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 880, had this to say: "…Tops’ motivation in the beginning was to help the employees, and that Tops has always been motivated to do the ‘right thing’ by its employees. In the end, Tops in fact did the right thing."
No, no, no, NO!
Tops didn’t do “the right thing,” Tops did the politically expedient thing. They over-paid some people (actually, a lot of people, like 650) and then asked for their money back. If you went to the bank and the teller accidentally gave you one too many $50 bills, would you consider that money yours to keep? If the guard stopped you at the door, would you pled your case that the bank made the mistake, not you, so that money should be yours to keep?
Look, I’m not going to argue if Tops did “the right thing” or not when they sent 4,000 people to the unemployment line. I’m sure they did what they needed to do to remain viable as a business. I mean, if they continued to operate unprofitable stores in Ohio, resulting in ALL Tops stores to go under, then it would be a whole lot more people out of work. And surely that wouldn’t be “the right thing,” right?
What really cheeses me is the sense of entitlement these former Tops workers seem to have. YOU DIDN’T EARN THAT MONEY! Just because you’re laid off you think you can swindle more money out of your former employer than you deserve?
And even worse: Tops bought into it! Or rather, they had to buy into it, in order to keep the positive PR machine going. Tops Executive VP and General Manager Max Henderson wrote in a memo: “We sincerely apologize to our former associates for any hardship this may have caused. It has always been our goal to make sure that all of our former employees are treated fairly, and we will continue to work diligently to resolve any outstanding payment issues.”
If I was Mr. Max Henderson, Executive VP and General Manager, I would have issued this statement:
“Congratulations! You just won the lottery. Even though you have no legal right whatsoever to the extra money that we accidentally mailed you, we’re going to let you keep it. Because otherwise we’re going to have to eat a big shit sandwich and, frankly, we’re already full. Buy yourselves something nice. Oh, and don’t bother to say ‘thank you,’ you ungrateful jackasses.”
End of rant. Now I’ve got to get back to work before I end up unemployed (again).