Service Plaza Workers File Complaints of Illegal Underpayment

Franklin Soults, fsoults@seiu32bj.org, 860-471-5692

Service Plaza Workers File Complaints of Illegal Underpayment

Workers at Applegreen’s Dunkin Donuts and Paul Landino’s Subway file complaint with DOL, speak out against erratic scheduling in fight for justice

HARTFORD, Conn. – Today, workers completed wage violation complaints against the two largest service plaza employers in Connecticut’s interstate highway system– Paul Landino, owner of 17 Subway restaurants across I-95 and I-15, and the giant international Applegreen Corporation, employer of all the Dunkin’ Donuts workers in the 23 plazas across three interstate highways. With these filings, the movement for better conditions and a union at the plazas fast food restaurants is expanding to seek millions of dollars in back wages for hundreds of workers.

“I have been working for three years at Dunkin’ Donuts, and I’m filing today because I have never been paid the standard wage,” said Elva Salazar, an Applegreen/Dunkin’ employee at the service plaza on I-95 outside of Greenwich. “It would make a huge difference to me, since I live alone and need every cent I make to meet my bills.”

By law, subcontractors with the state should be paying a rate that exceeds the state minimum, especially when factoring in the guaranteed extra premium of 30% for benefits. Until recently, few if any of the fast food outlets in the Connecticut interstate service plaza system complied with the law – one of many reasons that workers have organized to fight for better conditions and a union across the plazas.

“Unfortunately, this is just one of the abuses we suffer at Applegreen/Dunkin,” Salazar continued. “I’ve also come to Hartford to speak at a rally to support passage of the Fair Workweek Bill. Not only am I underpaid, but also my scheduling is so unreliable that it threatens the second job that I need to make ends meet.”

“I was part of a group that recently delivered a petition with the signature of almost 50 workers at Subway, asking Paul Landino to improve conditions at his restaurants,” said Aline Mirtie, a Subway worker in Darien. “Subway staff took our petition, but they also asked us to leave their property at the Milford headquarters. I hope this filing will force Mr. Landino to finally follow the law on the publicly-owned property where he operates and pay us the Standard Wage.”

The filings against Landino’s Subway stores and Applegreen’s Dunkin’ outlets follows Department of Labor settlements with the McDonald’s owners at the plazas. In 2020, a publicly disclosed settlement with one owner, George Michell, led to payments of over a million dollars in back wages and fines. Last fall, the interstate system’s three other McDonald’s owners also entered into settlements with the DOL, agreeing to also pay over a million dollars in back wages (the disbursement of the payments has not yet been confirmed).

“We are proud to support the Subway and Dunkin/Applegreen workers who are stepping forward to begin the Department of Labor’s wage investigations,” said Rochelle Palache, Vice-President of 32BJ SEIU, which has led the service plaza campaign. “It’s time all the fast food outlets pay their workers the legal standard wage, stop erratically changing their workers’ schedules, and allow their employees to join a union without interference. As operators on Connecticut state property, they need to live up to the labor standards that our state demands of its subcontractors, to improve the lives of workers, stimulate local economies, and create a more stable workforce for the benefit of everyone who visits the service plazas.”

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With over 175,000 members in 12 states, including 5,000 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.

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