Kneading the Dough

April 11th, 2008 by

The Arthur Avenue Bakery in the Bronx NY is famous for its cannoli and crusty bread. The bread is not the only crusty item at the bakery. We read in the NY Times that the 50 year old institution is suddenly famous for unfair labor practices: some employees worked 12 hour days for $50 a day – an hourly rate of $4.16, well below the state’s minimum wage of $7.15. The bakery does not carry workers comp insurance. New employees often worked the first week without any pay. Some employees have not been paid for over a month. Occasionally, pay checks bounced. All in all, the bakery seems to be lacking in dough.
State officials deemed the conditions so unfair to employees, they shut the business down. The bakery can re-open only if they pay $140,000 in back wages and $37,500 in penalties for not carrying comp. That’s a lot of cannolis!
Despite the stop-work order, it appears that the bakery may still be operating. Manager Walter Galiano says he is still doing business. (The state vows to look into this.) Arthur also questions the penalty and back wage calculations of the state labor investigators. “The high school they went to did their math differently from the way my high school did math.”
It would be interesting to check out the problems in Walter’s old math book:

Walter runs a bakery. If one of his employees works a 12 hour day and the minimum wage is $7.15, how much does Walter pay the employee?
Answer: Whatever he feels like.

You’ve heard of the new math. This is New York math. You gotta problem with that?