Eighteen workers who comprised the bulk of the staff at Snarf’s Sub Shop’s River North location in Chicago are out of jobs this holiday season after the Denver-based company told them via email on Sunday that they were fired, effective Monday. The store is closing for renovations after months of declining business. The news was first reported by Chicago Grid.
The timing, coming just days before Christmas, has touched off a wave of criticism towards the company. And so has the fact that many of the 18 fired employees had partaken in a nationwide day of action earlier this month aimed at pressuring fast-food companies to pay their low-level employees a higher wage.
A company spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that while the strikes were “tough on us as a business,” the firings were not in retaliation for the walkouts.
In their email to employees, Snarf’s suggested that the fired employees apply for unemployment benefits, a common tip that fast food companies have been relying on when advising its employees on ways to get by on their minimum-wage salaries. A recent study from the University of California-Berkley found that American taxpayers pay an estimated $243 billion a year on public benefits programs for families who are working jobs that pay them low wages.
Snarf’s isn’t the first fast-food company to channel Ebenezer Scrooge this year. In November, a McDonald’s corporate website designed specifically to provide financial and other advice to its roughly 800,000 U.S. employees offered tips such as returning or re-selling unopened Christmas gifts to help pay for bills.