Bigger than burgers and fries, franchising blamed for low wages
Popular business model squeezes small business owners between corporations and workers.
When we asked what it is like to own a franchise of the world’s largest convenience-store chain, Hashim Syed took us to a cramped back room of his 7-Eleven store on Chicago’s North Side.
Sitting next to a wall of tubes filled with bright-colored syrup for the soda machine, Syed recalled a young man working the graveyard shift a few years back. This employee wanted to be with his father, who was gravely ill.
“Where we come from,” said Syed, 71, who was born in India, “it’s very important that you spend the final days with parents for the comfort.”
But the worker could not afford to take unpaid leave. And Syed could not afford to replace him. “I’d have had to have somebody else do his work,” Syed said, his voice becoming faint. “I would have ended up paying two wages.”
The employee kept most of his shifts and, to this day, Syed still regrets it. “I wish I would have given him some time off,” he said.
In Syed’s nearly quarter century as a 7-Eleven franchisee, he has worked brutally long hours, his profits have fallen far short of his expectations, and the Dallas-based chain has imposed tighter rules on how he runs the store.
Something else that steams Syed is his role as an employer. He says all of those 7-Eleven rules limit his ability to cut costs and free up resources to treat his workers better. “When I lived in Bombay,” Syed said, “this is not what I thought they meant by the American Dream.”
Continue reading Bigger than burgers and fries, franchising blamed for low wages [WBEZ]
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