On Friday, signs adorned the Noodles & Company location on State Street, reading “Closed Until Fair Wages” in bold letters.
The store was also closed that day — and had reduced hours over the weekend — because workers there were striking.
Spencer Niesen is a worker at the location and an organizer of the action.
“It started Friday, we all just didn’t go into work. We didn’t even get it open for the day. It happened because we realized our wages weren’t fair. We heard that new workers were making about the same as workers who had been here for ten years. New people were getting hired at $16/hr, and we have managers who have worked here for over a decade who are getting paid $16.83. When we found that out, we just kind of realized that it’s unacceptable. I tried to talk to a bunch of workers separately about what was happening with their wage, and once I realized what was happening to everyone, it was pretty spontaneous,” says Niesen.
Niesen says the current low pay means that some Noodles and Company workers can’t afford local rent and are currently unhoused. On another of the signs on the closed shop on Friday was a clear list of demands by the striking workers. These included demands for pay minimums, including an $18/hr starting wage, $23/hr for shift managers, $27/hr for assistant managers, and $1/hr raises for each additional year of employment.
The workers’ signs also demanded personal time off and sick time for workers who have been there at least three months, and no retaliation for workers exercising their rights. Niesen says the timing off the work stoppage worked well.
“Our general manager and area manager were away, they were in Texas for a summit, and we decided it was the perfect time to go on strike. And once you have that momentum, it’s hard to get that back,” says Niesen.
Communication about the potential job action was established beforehand among the Noodles and Company store workers, said Niesen. It appears that some information was leaked to Noodles and Company management before the action, but on Friday the closing held.
Niesen describes the company’s response on Friday.
“They tried to call us, they tried to text us. We kind of figured it was a tactic to stop it before it started. They tried to call other managers to open our store, but we were waiting outside, and we said ‘Please don’t do that,’ and they didn’t. We have a regional operating manager, and he flew out from Indiana to come to our store. We also have HR now coming to talk to us now. So it was a pretty quick response.”
“I just decided there were a lot of people who I worked with who deserved more that what they’re getting,” Niesen adds.
The restaurant was open for reduced hours on Saturday and Sunday. Someone at the State Street Noodles and Company told WORT that the store was open today, and directed that any inquiries be emailed to the company’s Colorado headquarters press office. WORT did not receive
a response by broadcast time.
For the 6pm news, Greg Geboski reports.