Sunday, September 12, 2010

12 SEP 10: Goodwill Grunting

"I took a real chance by calling you," a man said on the phone one recent evening. When someone calls a humor blog to make charges of abuse at a local institution, it might be considered a sign of desperation. Or it could be a sign the Ledger-Enquirer is committing too many reporters to the Parks and Recreation scandal.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: A spokesperson for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers admits one manager is "no longer with us," for making employees work excessive hours. That vague-sounding phrase could mean the manager was fired, forced to resign - or drifted over to Marble Slab Creamery after Ben & Jerry's closed.

Your blog called Goodwill Industries after receiving a series of complaints about working conditions. They culminated in this e-mail from someone using the name "Anony," which we've edited a bit:

It seems another one bites the dust as Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers (GWISR) continues to blame their employees for lackadaisical sales. The manager of the Opelika store was recently terminated due to this fact, a scapegoat for GWISRs lack of strategy and planning. Apparently, GWISR and its board of directors failed to do their homework before they opened this store. Was research conducted prior in terms of geographics, demographics, competition and accessibility?! GWISR has access to a (free) tool as a member of a world class international nonprofit organization, a very smart tool. Yet, because of their failure to use such a tool, until the use of it was mandated by the "top" after the Oplelika store was opened, a career man loses his job and will always have to answer "yes" to the question, "have you ever been terminated from a job?" when submitting his next job application.

Richard, of course you blogged about the closing of Ben & Jerry's [17 Aug]. I loved your comments about the mis-placement in North Cols in 2005 as opposed to where it should've been located in South Cols.

On another note, the hours of the employees at the N. Cols store have been reduced by 10 hours per pay period because donations have decreased, altho', employees are still expected to work 9 days in a row before they have 2 days off so they can just "die" during their time off before the cycle begins again.

..a woman in her 80's, employed by GWISR for over 40 years makes less than $10/hour. She is my heroine. She stands on shoddy fatigue mat for 8 hours a day. How can GWISR wake up in the morning and be fine with this disturbing fact while the "top" is smiling all the way to the bank.

Thanks for your attention.... Well, do I dare send this? I have nothing to lose. Here goes "send".

We confirmed this past week that Charles Clope no longer is Goodwill's Opelika retail manager. Staff members did not say whether or not it was a firing, and our efforts to contact him at home led to a disconnected phone. We tried to call Clope, but the answer was "nope."

This e-mail followed telephone complaints that GWISR employees have a work environment similar to a "third world sweatshop" or a "Russian gulag" - with extra-long work weeks, and work days with barely any lunch breaks. If only these employees had an easier job. For instance, they could be meteorologists during tornado season....

The central point of the complaints seems to be that GWISR puts property and profits ahead of personnel. One caller directed us to the Goodwill Success Center, which is in a small business park behind Cross Country Plaza. The caller said the complex has "only two tenants." At least it has two - while the old movie theater there has been empty for years.

So what does Goodwill Industries have to say about all this? We called a spokesperson to ask some tough questions. To borrow from old English madrigal songs, we wanted to see if Anony-knows....

Starting from the top of the e-mail, GWISR spokesperson Kim Cantrell admitted there's some "ebb and flow" in donations and retail store sales throughout the year. She says September historically is one of the slower months. That may explain why national chains are trying to convince you Halloween is only days away.

Kim Cantrell explained GWISR has "full-time" employees, but their weeks can vary. The hours are adjusted from 30 to 40 per week, depending on the pace of donations and sales. I've had jobs like that over the years - and when your relief calls out sick on a Sunday evening, a double shift lasting until 8:00 a.m. can seem like a one-mile run expanded to a marathon.

Kim Cantrell insists the Goodwill Industries cooperative venture with Ben & Jerry's had positive results. She said 20 young people received management training skills, and three of them are still with Goodwill. Two others are high school seniors - so they're only one YouTube video away from big-money recording contracts.

(Cantrell says Ben & Jerry's near Columbus Park Crossing had good sales at first. But the recession made a trip to the ice cream shop "an afterthought" for many people. Well, you certainly wouldn't go there shortly BEFORE dinner....)

What about the claim of nine-day work weeks? That was news to Kim Cantrell, so she did some checking - calling us back later to report that's NOT the case anywhere in Goodwill Industries. Cantrell admitted six-day or seven-day weeks sometimes occur, based on staffing and scheduling. I don't recall reporters at the Little League World Series complaining about that.

Kim Cantrell says GWISR is committed to providing a balance of work and family time for its employees. If the employees want to carry donation boxes to and from softball games at South Commons, so much the better.

Kim Cantrell added GWISR strives to pay its employees more than the minimum wage. But she admitted managers are still adjusting their budgets to the most recent increase in that minimum -- even though the increase to $7.25 per hour occurred 14 months ago. Some of you could leave the change in your suit pockets, before handing them over....

So there you have it - a classic case of employer versus employee, with differing views on a company's conditions. I suppose Goodwill staff members with a gripe could call their state Labor Department, and ask for an investigation. At least the staff members and state investigators would be paid. The person who made calls for today's blog topic wasn't.

-> Our recent poker tournaments have made us smile often. Read about them at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Of all the tributes for a slain Columbus radio host, this one could raise the most eyebrows....

I've updated my blog in memory of Heath Jackson, who was killed by a black criminal. This is a grave example of the unfortunate results of forced Diversity and Multiculturalism! The Jewish -controlled media has blood on their hands! They've created the anti-white environment which put this young man's life at risk,at the hands of a black thug. May this black thug be given one of the following: the noose, the electric chair, lethal injection or the firing squad as just punishment for his crimes.

This blog is the "News4Whites" site of Columbus National Alliance leader Michael Weaver. But wait a minute - Jewish-controlled media?! Somehow I don't think Lee Brantley is Jewish - nor is WBOJ-FM General Manager Brian Hite.

I could bring up the recent "brother against brother" homicide in Phenix City - but what about the racketeering case involving the Bleckleys from Richland? Who told that Euro-American couple to pull an investment scheme on the owners of a Japanese restaurant? That new "Wall Street" movie was still in production when it happened....

Let's move on to an e-mail which combines several topics in one:

Greetings! I'm going to make this short, because we both know how valuable time is....

I've been reading your blog for a few months, well ever since I had to Google "Ed Bostic Sonny 100". Your blog led me to the end of my confused search of where my favorite morning DJ went. I'll be honest, I just thought Tammy Terry had a sweet voice (which helped get me up and going as I'm not a morning person) and liked the chemistry of the two. I discovered your blog is the only spot I can get for the "news and tid bits" that matter to me, so I'm a weekly reader. I am a 27 year old native of Phenix City, however the past four years I lived in Seale, right down the road from the old courthouse. I was hoping you'd show up Monday, with Camera in hand. On a side note, I too do not understand the elevator, however I have been told it will broaden the ability to be rented for events. Ironically my eldest cousin was married there about 7 years ago... which I did not attend. Shhh...

Getting to the point, I am replying to your post from September 2. The reason why the job fair for the Huddle House in Ft. Benning was held at the Double Tree is simple, the company "Valley Hospitality" operates the kitchen "Houlihan's" inside the Double Tree, it's also their latest pride. I'm not affiliated with them, however the company I work for does a lot of their custom kitchen stainless work, which is local I might add.

Thanks for your Blog, for keeping things cut and dry yet with an often humorous pun!

Brent White

Ed Bostic is still at WRLD-FM "95.3 The Ride" - but maybe Chuck Leonard needs to work on softening his voice.

I didn't know about the Russell County Courthouse Fair until after it was over. But I was fair and evenhanded when it came to Labor Day events - because I also didn't check any supermarkets, to see how full those firefighters' boots really were.

Our last e-mail comes from Ohio, and ponders some of Saturday's topics:

Hello Richard,

I don't know if any congregations had a say in the pictures that were used for the "local" UCG sites. UCG Cleveland had a nice colorful picture that will still be up on what's left of the old site for a couple months at (the .org address now points to the new one, but we are going to let this one expire) of the skyline in Cleveland, OH. The one that is on the new site is some washed out picture that I frankly don't care much for.

As far as begging goes, I'm all for the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing for individual offerings. If a civic group is advertising in order to raise funds or even to raise awareness so those who need the donations, then I personally don't see a problem with that. Of course, the question is "if" that is the only reason …


John D Carmack

IT Consultant & Blogger

I think the "washed-out picture" is supposed to show Cleveland at sunrise. Of course, that could be reversed with the departure of LeBron James.

Thanks to all of you who visit and write - and with wishes for a happy Grandparents' Day, let's check some weekend headlines:

+ WXTX reported Columbus Police fired several shots at a loose and charging pit bull -- but all the shots missed. Perhaps that's just as well. The thought of Paws Humane calling a news conference to demand a review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would have looked strange....

+ The National Infantry Museum hosted "Academy Day 2010," introducing high school students to military colleges. This is what happens when Columbus doesn't have an Academy sporting goods store.

+ Country singer Laura Bell Bundy performed at Fort Benning to mark Patriot Day. Bundy's entertainment career has included a role on the old soap opera "Guiding Light" and performances on Broadway. In other words, she's Reba McEntire going in the opposite direction.

+ Alabama remained the national champion of college football by pounding Penn State 24-3. So why isn't WIOL AM-FM "The Zone" carrying Crimson Tide games this season? Is the Davis Broadcasting management waiting for complementary season tickets or something?

+ Georgia Tech lost 28-25 -- to, of all teams, dear old Kansas! And to think I met Tech loyalist Richard Hyatt at dinner the other night, and admitted things looked bleak for my Jayhawks. I take a big step toward peacemaking, and the blessing comes....

(Yes, I shook hands with Richard Hyatt. I even took the initiative to walk over to his table, since he didn't know my face. This talk about "One Columbus" still can become a reality.)

+ Instant Message to WTVM's Kristin Gold: LOVED your lead story for the Saturday night sportscasts! But this biased Kansas fan feels compelled to offer some advice. Around here, you only start with Atlantic Coast Conference football when absolutely NO Southeastern Conference teams are playing. Nothing screams "outsider" more than that.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: The big story of the weekend which I haven't mentioned here (go ahead, guess)....

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