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Safeway Suspends Worker For Sci-Fi Parody of His Firing 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-find-your-lack-of-humor-disturbing dept.
theodp writes "After making light of a bad situation — Safeway's closing of its Chicagoland Dominick's grocery store chain and termination of 6,000 workers — with a satirical SciFi YouTube clip, Dominick's employee Steve Yamamoto found himself suspended just one day before the grocery chain closed up shop for good. 'My store manager got a phone call that she had to suspend me,' Yamamoto told NBC Chicago. 'I was like, "Are you serious?" It's crazy as it is. I'm just dumbfounded.' Perhaps Safeway was concerned that viewers of Yamamoto's video might think that aliens, robots, and monsters did Dominick's in, although the Chicago Tribune suggests financial machinations as a more likely culprit: 'By pulling the plug on Chicago [Dominick's], Safeway could not only satisfy [hedge fund] Jana, but also generate a $400 million to $450 million tax benefit.'"
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Safeway Suspends Worker For Sci-Fi Parody of His Firing

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  • How many of these incidents will it take before corporations work out that ignoring your critics is usually your best strategy.
    • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:26PM (#45821571)
      Are you implying that something negative will happen because they suspended the guy? I really doubt there are any materially negative consequences for Safeway.
      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:30PM (#45821633)

        I agree, though that's partly because of their existing reputation. This kind of story could hurt a company that has a reputation for treating its employees well, and which finds that reputation valuable to maintain. Safeway doesn't really have that kind of reputation, and probably doesn't care. They don't have a particularly negative reputation either, more just one of a generic, faceless, bureaucratic employer, which this incident pretty much fits as you might expect.

      • What I mean is that video, which otherwise would have been lucky to get 50 views, will now soar to the top of social media.
        • And what happens as a result? Will anyone stop shopping at Safeway? Or will it get a little bit of a brand recognition boost?
          • by EdIII (1114411)

            I don't have any problem not shopping with them for an extended period of time.

            If they want to get petty because a worker complained about them eliminating thousands of jobs in a public way (protected speech) and severely impact his ability to get unemployment (punish him) then I can punish them right back by removing several thousand dollars in revenue over the next couple of years.

            I stick to it.

            Nothing Apple. Ever. Fuck their walled garden freedom is what we tell you it is approach.
            Walmart. Those people c

          • by eating grapes and anything inside the shop, like bagging a bag of expensive nuts, and eating them while shopping, then by the time you get to the counter, bag empty, haha!

            Can of redbull while shopping, yum, free too.

      • by swb (14022)

        Just negative PR.

        Employee makes dumb video about money-grubbing corporate behavior, money-grubbing corporate executives ignore video, a few dozen people see video and have a chuckle at their expense. Whole thing forgotten in a week.

        Same situation, except money-grubbing executives foam at the mouth and demand "consequences" from employee about to get canned anyway. Mass media catches wind, hundreds of thousands of people see video, even more see news story. Safeway looks like typical corporate bully to e

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          I think the better decision is to not give any money to Safeway over the course of next year.

          If enough people actually got together and boycotted Safeway for even 6 months, the effect would be noticeable on a revenue report.

          While not enough to overhaul policies and get executives sacked, it should be more than enough to make some idiot executive think twice about getting publicly caught engaging in petty behavior against a lowly defenseless worker.

          It's not as hard as you think to create a deterrent. Can't b

      • Well, I'll never shop there again so... yes.

        • Materially negative consequences. You probably don't spend enough money there to make a difference, nor would it make a difference if 100 of us stopped shopping there. In a short amount of time this will blow over like every other corporate transgression and 99% of everyone will forget about it and move on.

          Bad press isn't enough to make people stop shopping somewhere. Look at McD, their profits have been growing. WalMart isn't doing bad. Sony is doing well. Google is doing amazing. God look at BP, they f
      • by Teancum (67324)

        Are you implying that something negative will happen because they suspended the guy? I really doubt there are any materially negative consequences for Safeway.

        Actually, something negative could come as a result of firing this guy. I don't know if he is likely to contest the firing, but assuming he does suggest it was an illegal firing and wants to go through legal channels to challenge the corporation on this issue, he could end up as the only employee of the chain still technically employed in Illinois (for at least one more day effective as soon as the challenge is completed).

        My mother-in-law was successful in challenging a termination at Wal-Mart (notorious f

  • Ah (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:20PM (#45821533)

    I think I know why he was suspended -- half of the clip is the same couple of scenes remixed, and the typography is unoriginal. If I were the manager, I'd have yelled at him too for the low quality of the parody. It really just demonstrates a lack of dedication and attention to detail that I've come to expect from minimum wage workers in this country. I mean, if you're going to half-ass a parody, what else are you half-assing in your life, mmm?

    Disclaimer: Snarky. If you take this post seriously, there's something wrong with you.

    • I think I know why he was suspended -- half of the clip is the same couple of scenes remixed, and the typography is unoriginal. If I were the manager, I'd have yelled at him too for the low quality of the parody. It really just demonstrates a lack of dedication and attention to detail that I've come to expect from minimum wage workers in this country. I mean, if you're going to half-ass a parody, what else are you half-assing in your life, mmm?

      Disclaimer: Snarky. If you take this post seriously, there's something wrong with you.

      Twenty years ago I would have never ever thought a grocery store worker being able to produce a SciFi clip with special effects to this degree would have been possible. Technology in the hands of the masses is also a great testament to our hard work.

    • You had it right the first time, snark should never be done half ass. Quality snark is to be admired and held up as a thing to be beholden. You have to take pride in your work, how can you take pride in half ass snark?

    • by Livius (318358)

      Sorry, but I *will* take this post seriously. He disparaged their trade name but the video did not rise to the level of parody (which is a *really* low bar to meet) or offer any entertainment value.

      The whole concept was mocking the hardship that those laid off will suffer and that is not winning him any points either.

  • Is this on /. because the guy used some action/sci fi type graphics?

    If this makes you upset don't go to SafeWay anymore.
    • "Your Safeway manager never told you what happened to your father. Luke, you're Safeway's bitch."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:25PM (#45821567)

    Had Safeway just ignored the video and let this guy go with the other 5999, we'd probably have never even heard of it except maybe as some footnote in a local broadcaster's "Quick! We've got 20 seconds to fill, what can we do with it?" at the end of the 11pm news. Instead, by firing him like this, they've likely opened themselves up to a wrongful termination/retaliation lawsuit.

    • they've likely opened themselves up to a wrongful termination/retaliation lawsuit.

      Probably not. He was fired before he made the movie.

  • Suspended isn't fired or is it for the purposes of being eligible for unemployment?

    Is this just a one day's pay slap on the wrist or is it costing this guy big? Is just HR silliness or is a nasty grab at avoiding one more headcount on their unemployment experience tax figures?

       

  • ill fated satire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (3msoceht)> on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:31PM (#45821639)
    The line from the video "All so the big shots could save a buck and maybe buy a new summer home" was probably the catalyst, not the special effects. How could this guy be dumbfounded -- what do you expect reactionary corporate America to do when you satirize their modus operandi! Hello Streisand...
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      What is the big issue? The guy didn't even give away the location of the big shots new summer home.
  • I can here the Safeway manager now. You're not only fired, you're suspended too! Take that smart ass!
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:44PM (#45821733)

    I'm sure the video will never go viral.

  • Google at fault? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:56PM (#45821877)

    I wonder if Safeway would have learned of the identity for the poster had Google not coerced "Steve Yamamoto" to post non-anonymously in some flawed attempt to elevate the failed status of Google+.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:04PM (#45821983)

    Presumably the manager who was told to suspend the guy was about to be fired too. You have to wonder what would have happened if they had agreed, then "forgot" to actually carry out the suspension. By the time corporate figured out the guy hadn't actually been suspended, both he and the manager would probably have been fired already anyway.

    Or better yet, this situation is crying out for a work-to-rule. "Sure, I'll go start the official suspension process immediately. Hmm...now where are those forms policy says I have to use...?"

    • My take on it is that this was a scalping. Pure and simple. It was something management can back up on his/her resume and with references that demonstrates managerial experience. The ability to not only hire, but apply disciplinary action as well.

  • Company Resources (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AJH16 (940784) <[moc.efaccg] [ta] [ja]> on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:29PM (#45822257) Homepage

    While the suspension really does seem unnecessary, my guess is that it came because it appears he was doing it on company time from some of the shots used. Technically it's a misappropriation of the companies resources. It's a bit of a bone headed thing to do since they were closing the shop anyway, but they were probably just following a standard procedure and could have gotten in to more trouble with previous people they had suspended if they didn't bother to do it, since people could claim that he was treated preferentially.

    The entire situation is stupid, but that's unfortunately where getting employers forced in to mindlessly following written policy for fear of being sued for unequal treatment has gotten us. You have to document the penalty for everything and follow it to the letter no matter how stupidly it doesn't fit the situation or someone will sue.

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:29PM (#45822263)

    It wasn't enough to merely fire him and his 5999 coworkers. They made an example out of him.

    That's power.

  • For a guy doing this in his copious spare time this is a funny vid. It's not something Safeway wants on YouTube for sure, so I'm sure they're sending a letter to Google now to remove it.

  • Banned Cameras (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:55PM (#45822501)

    This is the same company that had upper management trying to ban cameras in the bakery department lest their cakes appear on Cake Wrecks. They tried to argue that their cakes are copyrighted and thus taking photos of them is copyright infringement. http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2012/11/9/ways-to-play-it-safe.html

  • Perhaps Safeway was concerned that viewers of Yamamoto's video might think that aliens, robots, and monsters did Dominick's in, although the Chicago Tribune suggests financial machinations as a more likely culprit: 'By pulling the plug on Chicago [Dominick's], Safeway could not only satisfy [hedge fund] Jana, but also generate a $400 million to $450 million tax benefit.'

    The Chicago Tribune is stunningly disconnected from reality then, and is just blaming the billionaires out of habit or to pander t

  • Even if you don't want to watch it, I want the company heads to say "Sweet jeebus, that video got 93 quadrillion views!" Let them think they're in for the PR shitstorm of the century and maybe they'll make things right with this guy. (If not, I hope he sues and wins.)

    Bonus: Click the "Like" button.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyLReexjEco [youtube.com]

    PS: The video is actually pretty good.

  • I understand this is another instance of finance destroying viable business

    Investors want 15% of ROI. Any profitable business that generate less than 15% will be dismembered to extract money. Financial industry just destroy anything not profitable enough, even if it is useful to society. This is capitalism destroying itself.

  • Basically Safeway are the bastards who crashed the company.

    Dominick's was fine in and through the mid and late 80's. They actually competed in the area and were, arguably, neck and neck with the other major competitor in the area, Jewel/Jewel-Osco.

    After the founder's son died, his heirs simply didn't have the know-how or desire to run the company properly and cashed out to Safeway.

    Safeway basically stopped trying to compete almost immediately. There's been ONE major branding change, when they went to the

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