Saturday, May 23, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Breakfast is Paramount

Sorry the coffee has been so cold here lately:

"Paramount restaurant sued on overtime; Workers say they are shorted on pay" by Katie Johnston Globe Staff  May 15, 2015

The Paramount restaurant is a 78-year-old Beacon Hill institution, serving up caramel and banana French toast to Sunday brunchgoers and shrimp tacos to the dinner crowd. But workers preparing the food, running the cash register, and doing the dishes say they are being paid in cash for overtime hours, without the time-and-a-half compensation they are entitled to, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in US District Court in Boston.

Several workers involved in the suit, which also includes the Paramount in South Boston, said they are not being paid at all for up to 20 hours of overtime work.

Massachusetts restaurants are not required to pay overtime under state law but still have to comply with the federal overtime law, which calls for extra compensation after 40 hours per week, said Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the Paramount workers.

Cashier Maria Adela Rivas said that along with her paycheck she gets an envelope of cash, usually around $100, to pay for the 10 or so hours of overtime she works every week. Not only are no taxes being taken out, she said, but she isn’t getting the time-and-a-half wage — approximately $50 extra a week — she’s entitled to for overtime work.

“Everybody gets cash over the 40 hours,” said Rivas, 42, who lives in East Boston and supports her two children on her $11-an-hour Paramount wages and tips, and food stamps. “I wish I could buy a house, but with that amount that I make a year, I can’t.”

Owners Michael Conlon and Joseph Greene, whose restaurant group also operates the 21st Amendment near the State House, the Blarney Stone in Dorchester, and West on Centre in West Roxbury, did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

Wage theft is a growing problem around the country, according to the federal Department of Labor, and immigrants are particularly vulnerable because they are reluctant to speak out against their employers. Stiffing restaurant workers is “somewhat of a widespread practice” in Boston, said Alex Galimberti, lead organizer of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Boston.

That so flies in the face of what I was taught regarding the AmeriKan economic $y$tem.

“It happens at every level,” he said, from casual establishments to high-end restaurants.

Liss-Riordan, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, called the Paramount violations “blatant.”

“Employers think they can get away with taking advantage of low-wage workers, particularly immigrant workers,” she said, “because they don’t think they’re going to be challenged.”

They should be happy they have a paying job!


And you were wondering why you graduates couldn't find work?

"In N.H., Democrats fight to get out of Clinton’s shadow; Rivals try to forge own identities" by Akilah Johnson, Jim O’Sullivan and James Pindell Globe Staff  May 23, 2015

DURHAM, N.H. — Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, got almost all the way through his pitch to a packed living room recently before the Democratic presidential hopeful was hit with a familiar question.

“How do you see yourself as distinct from Hillary?” asked one guest.

O’Malley, tie loosened as he stood before a wall banked with signs bearing his name, rocked back and smiled.

“The distinct-from-Hillary question,” he joked.

And there it is.

Hillary Rodham Clinton looms larger in the New Hampshire primary than any of the other Democratic hopefuls — combined. So it is almost without fail that her foes get asked a Clinton question while in the Granite State, much to their chagrin.

And, as Clinton completed her much-publicized second trip to New Hampshire on Friday, her likely Democratic rivals are still fighting to be known.

The four seek to set themselves apart from the Democratic front-runner, declaring their differences with subtle and overt references to areas in which Clinton has taken considerable criticism. O’Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders run to her left on income inequality; former senator Jim Webb emphasizes his resume and military background; former governor Lincoln Chafee talks about his opposition to the war in Iraq.

While Clinton’s every move is parsed by the national media, her opponents hunger for attention, pleading their case in church basements, bookstores, and bars.

Comes with being a creature of Washington.


New Hampshire has long been Clinton country, and the former US secretary of state has leveled considerable resources here by hiring staff, opening a campaign office, and amassing more than 1,000 volunteers online, according to her team. Already this cycle, she has won support from the state’s top Democrat, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, all the way down to the first vice-chair for Portsmouth Democrats, Laurie McCray.

“There are people who are like ‘I’m for Hillary and don’t waste my time trying to persuade me otherwise,’ ” said Larry Drake, chair of the Rockingham County Democratic Committee.

Ideology plays a part in that search for an alternative, said state Representative Katherine Rogers, who once worked for President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale. Clinton’s camp is filled with the state’s top Democratic operatives, and political hands, she said, have a choice to make.

Some Democratic activists said they worry about the outsized nature of Clinton’s campaign, asserting that New Hampshire voters play a critical role in the electoral process by vetting presidential candidates. That’s why they’re wary of what critics call a “coronation’’ of Clinton some nine months before voters go to the polls.

New Hampshire is a state where, as one Democratic activist put it, the candidate who shakes the most hands twice usually prevails.

Thus far, all but one candidate has obliged. Most of Clinton’s challengers have visited the state more often than she has this presidential cycle, and they’re holding events that are mainly open to anyone who wants to attend. By contrast, Clinton’s events have been invitation-only.

Sanders, an independent Vermonter who is seeking the Democratic nomination, returns Wednesday for two town hall meetings and a house party. Chafee of Rhode Island – who has yet to formally declare his candidacy – returned Tuesday to speak with Merrimack County Democrats, and on May 31 he’ll serve as keynote speaker at the Rockingham County Democrats’ annual clambake. And Webb of Virginia is exploring a run, recently wrapping up a two-day visit to the Seacoast area, a Democratic stronghold. It was his first trip to the state since October.

“If we run, and if we get support, this is a vital place for us to be able to communicate,” Webb told a group of about 35 activists at a house party in Portsmouth. “We are not going to have the kind of money that a number of other candidates are going to have, but it is great place to do what we are doing right now, which is to sit down to talk to people and listen.”

The Webb house party was held by McCray, a local activist, who admitted to being “ready for Hillary but open to every qualified Democratic candidate.” And when the ubiquitous Clinton-question was asked by reporters at a luncheon last week, Webb answered, “I don’t have a comment.”

Before Friday, Clinton only had made one, daylong trip to New Hampshire, where she spoke to small groups at a manufacturing business, community college, coffee shop, and house party. Her Friday trip included two announced events: a “small community” discussion at Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Hampton followed by a grass-roots organizing event in Exeter.

By contrast, O’Malley has made numerous visits, playing his guitar before young voters at a Nashua lounge and giving a policy talk to business leaders at the speakers series known as Politics and Eggs breakfast....

Wouldn't you know it, it's time for lunch.


Related: Did You Make Clinton's List?

Also see: 

Hillary and Her Hubby
The Wealth of Presidential Candidates
Clinton Caravan to 2016 Democratic Nomination
Warrenting the 2016 Democratic Nomination
Biden His Time For 2016 Nomination
Sanders Sees Way to 2016 Nomination
Chafeeing to be the 2016 Democratic Nominee
O’Malley May Be Vice President

What a laugh.