Subway workers picket for back wages


Bob Ellis/staff photographer     
Former Subway employees, from left, Barbara Gleason, Kelvin West  and Roberta Walker picket for back wages Thursday outside the Subway store in the Riverside Plaza.  

Staff Reporter

Kelvin West shouted across Riverside Plaza, “Help us get our paychecks! Would you like to sign our petition?”
The employees at the Subway restaurant at Riverside Plaza had gone out on strike. They walked out Wednesday after the owner of the restaurant, John Rigos, delayed issuing their paychecks.
“It is really irritating,” said Barbara Gleason, former manager of the restaurant. “Almost every single person out here has little kids.”
The employees claimed they weren’t paid because Rigos said money was missing.
Leyday Conway, former assistant manger, said there are five keys for the restaurant and three are missing. She believes whoever has those keys are the ones stealing the money.
Rigos said there is more to it than missing money. He said he believes employees are crediting themselves with more hours than they actually work.
Aside from those issues, Rigos is also claiming that his employees showed a lack of respect and care for his business. Rigos cites a Subway corporate evaluation that showed the employees are not performing their duties.
He said that on numerous occasions “money has been stolen from me.” He said in a given week, the employees are supposed to work 153 hours, but according to this week’s payroll, the employees have worked 80 more hours than what is deemed normal.
“Eight hundred and forty-two dollars is missing,” Rigos said. “Sales are 40 percent below what they are supposed to be.”
All of the employees have worked at the store two months or less.
Rigos said the situation came to a head when he asked Gleason to hold off calling in payroll so he could examine the discrepancies. He said the employees then closed the store on Wednesday and walked out. Rigos said he always had the intention of paying his employees.
The protesters could not be ignored, asking each newcomer to the plaza to sign their petition.
“I don’t agree with their not getting paid,” said Gina Marshall, who signed the petition. “(Gleason) is always polite and pleasant. You couldn’t ask for a better manager.”
Another person who signed the petition was Laurie Moore, “I think they should get their money,” she said.
Charles Johnson went to the restaurant in the hopes of applying for a position, but instead he spent the afternoon joining his would-be fellow employees holding a cardboard sign.
With a growing petition — they had collected more than 200 signatures by this morning, Conway said — the protestors seemed to be getting their point across. Two hours into the protest the new manager came out with a phone call from Rigos, who was trying to diffuse the situation.
He claimed the protestors are extorting money from him and harassing him and the employees who still work for him.
“I’m not leaving till the paycheck is in my hand,” West said.
The employees claim they are owed from $60 to almost $500.
“I just started about two weeks ago,” said Roberta Walker. “I want my money. I am a struggling college student who just moved up here from the city. My father doesn’t make a lot of money either, so I’m kind of like on my own.”
At approximately 8:46 p.m. Thursday, the police were called to address a report of a disorderly person outside the restaurant. Lt. Paul Sandy, of the Cortland Police Department, said police were on the scene for 40 minutes. No arrests were made.
Conway said two employees kept vigil throughout the night and were rejoined by their counterparts at 7 a.m. today.
When asked if they would return to work if they were properly compensated, their response was in the negative.
“We all made a pact,” Gleason said. “We all walked out together and there is no way in hell.”



State: Dryden High among schools that need improvement

Staff Reporter

According to the state Education Department, Dryden High School in Tompkins County is one of 228 schools identified as needing improvement.
Dryden High School was one of 18 additions to the annual list and is among those schools requiring academic progress. According to the education department, Dryden High School needs to improve in the category of secondary-level English language arts.
“This is not a fact,” said Richard During, principal of Dryden High School, of the state’s contention that his school is performing poorly. “The reason we are in that category is due to a logistical aberration.”
Of the 228 high schools that made the list, which was released Wednesday, 107 receive Title I funding and are in need of improvement. Title I, a provision under the No Child Left Behind Act, provides funding for educational agencies to help raise students achievement and provides money to hold schools accountable for all their students.
During said the Education Department bases the results of the report on the number of students who enter the ninth grade, which it expects to coincide with the students who take the English Regents exam their junior year.
“People have the wrong perception,” During said. “The state bases this on a cohort, which is the number of students who enter the ninth grade together. I went through all the exams and only nine students didn’t sit the exam. Four were special education; three (transferred) and two took the exam in January.”
Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the State Education Department, said if a student transfers after a mid-October date, that student would still be counted in the cohort. The student would show up as not participating in the test, essentially bringing down the school’s numbers.
Dunn said Dryden High School has had to perform poorly for the past two years to be on the list.
Although he disagrees with the classification, During said that the school has taken steps to correct the situation.
“We have taken a huge step in the right direction, said Dunn. “Last year 100 percent of our students participated and passed (the English Regents)”
Schools that receive Title I funding must have two years of good performance before they are removed from the state list of schools that need improvement.
One hundred and twenty one schools on the state’s report do not receive Title I funding and are classified as requiring academic progress. Dryden High School does not receive funding for Title I.
All schools that are on the state list must complete a two-year improvement plan, which includes implementing a scientifically based research program.
If Dryden had been a Title I school, it would also have to spend at least 10 percent of Title I funds on professional development; appoint an outside expert to advise the school; extend the school year or school day; and decrease management authority at the school.



Virgil against sales tax proposal

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — Town board members Thursday night rejected the latest proposal to redistribute county sales tax revenue.
If approved by the Legislature, the six-year agreement would cost Virgil $19,627 a year starting in 2009, according to projections made by the county administrator.
“Why should we volunteer almost $20,000 out?” said Suzanne Lumsden, a board member. “I don’t see why. I disagree with that completely.”
The boarded voted 4-0 to approve a resolution that opposes the deal. Board member David Denniston was absent.
Board members said they could not support a provision in the proposal, which would extend from 2007 to 2012, that grants Cortlandville an additional 1 percent of sales tax revenue.
The Legislature is expected to vote on the proposal Sept. 28.
Just like the town of Cortlandville, the town of Virgil needs to consider its best interests, Board Member Dale Taylor said.
“As a government we’re all responsible for taking care of ourselves,” he said.
The sales tax agreement would reduce the county’s share of sales tax revenue from the current 56 percent to 52 percent by 2009. The current contract — for 2004 to 2006 — was negotiated in 2003.
The percent municipalities receive will gradually increase until it levels off at 48 percent in 2009, the same share they received in 2003.
The city would receive 18.25 percent of the portion set aside for local municipalities by 2009. That compares with the 17.5 percent the city receives now.
The remaining 29.75 percent in sales tax, or a projected $876,782, would be split between the towns and villages by 2009.
The negotiating committee decided to propose divvying up that money based on assessed values, with one exception: Cortlandville would receive an additional 1 percent of the money for the towns and villages. Currently towns and villages shares are based entirely on assessed values.