Bad sports or good business? (5×8 – 1/26/11)

Should a Packers tie get you fired, the Chipotle firings, happy Swap Day, running in place at work, and the Iron Range weasel’s workout.

Reminder: The BBC’s international discussion on the future of Somalia begins right after the news at 10 a.m. on MPR. We’ll have young Somalis in the UBS Forum in St. Paul participating along with groups in Mogadishu and London. I’ll be live-blogging it here on News Cut and we encourage your comments and observations as you listen to the program.


Floating around the radio dial yesterday, it was apparent that most sports fans in the Twin Cities agree with the Chicago auto dealer who fired a salesman on Monday because he wore a Packers-themed tie to work. We take things that seriously, apparently.Weep not for the salesman, however. He’s been hired by a competitor.

“They’ve been calling from as far away as San Diego, saying they’ll buy from him and only him,” said Guy Cesario of Chevrolet of Homewood. “It’s hard to believe anybody could be so stupid as to fire a good salesman for wearing a Packers tie.”

Should wearing a Packers tie be grounds for dismissal?online survey


Over on the MPR Facebook account, Sasha Aslanian’s follow-up to the firing of Chipotle workers because they were undocumented workers is getting a review.

“For each person, we get all the required documents. And even after those reviews, we found that lo and behold, we’ve got a good number of people who apparently submitted documents which were in fact not authentic, despite the fact that they looked to be,” Chipotle’s boss told Aslanian.

It’s a simple issue until it’s not. A union leader says raids against janitors a few years ago just drove them deeper into the underground economy.

That reflects a change in strategy by the feds to focus on businesses who hire undocumented workers, rather than round them up and send them back home. Still, a spokesman told Aslanian, ICE has sent over 300,000 people home, many with criminal backgrounds, he said.

“It’s about time!” Betsy Pavlica told us on Facebook. “People have been complaining that businesses have turned an eye to hiring illegals. Now that one is addressing it, suddenly they’re the bad guys?”

Said Cindy Tinderland-Drury: “Until we go after the businesses that make a practice of hiring illegal immigrants, the problem will not be solved. Most of them can afford the large fine, they just saved a bundle on payroll. Cuz, be honest, most illegal immigrants work for near slave wages.”

Your turn.

Related: In 2010, states passed a record number of immigration laws.


A Boston firm has organized National Swap Day. It lasts through February, an indicator that the economy is so lousy, people are more anxious to wear other people’s clothes, the Boston Globe says.

Rachel Botsman, coauthor of the recent book “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” attributes the swelling of swapping to a perfect alignment of social and economic attitudes. The recession forced budget-conscious consumers to barter rather than buy. Sophisticated technology made it easy to organize quickly online. Such sites addressed people’s interest in recycling their belongings. And despite the apparent rancor with which they shop, swappers say they enjoy the sense of community.

One question: If this is all about the economy — or mostly so — then how come people aren’t wearing their clothes until they’re completely worn out?


You know what can make a cubicle-bound blogger feel like the laziest sloth? A colleague with a newfangled treadmill desk:


The World Headquarters of News Cut is trying out the treadmill desk, modeled here by Jackie Cartier of American Public Media’s communications department, She’s working where others have also shown no fear to tread.

This phenomenon is catching on, thanks partly to the work of a Mayo Clinic doc:

James Levine has since left Rochester to work in Cleveland, where he’s setting up “exercise streets.” He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer his goal is to turn Cleveland into a Garden of Eden.

Too easy for me. Insert your own Cleveland joke here.


Filmed this week on the Iron Range. A weasel gets a workout:

Weather trivia: There’s another snowstorm heading for the Boston area. Boston is now just 5 inches shy of the Twin Cities snowfall total for the year.


President Obama delivered his State of the Union address last night. What did you think of the president’s speech?

Bob Ingrassia tried following the speech through various social networks. He found the state of the social networks very noisy.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: More analysis of the State of the Union address.

Second hour: The BBC’s program “Africa, Have Your Say” broadcasts live from the UBS Forum as part of a worldwide call-in based in St. Paul and London. The program will hear from young Somalis in St. Paul and London who’ve never known peace in their homeland.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former Minnesota GOP Congressman Bill Frenzel and longtime Washington journalist Al Eisele talk about Minnesota’s power in Washington, and how and why it’s changed over the years.

Second hour: State of the Union rebroadcast.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Even more State of the Union analysis.

Second hour: Siblings may be separated by any number of circumstances, but what is the cost? And what happens, when they find each other?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Last week’s legislative auditor’s report on transit governance recommended scrapping a state law prohibiting the Met Council or any other agency from planning, studying or spending money on a commuter rail corridor from Northfield through Lakeville, Bloomington, Richfield into downtown Minneapolis. State Rep. Mike Beard of Shakopee, who now chairs the House Transportation Committee, says once again this session he’ll try for a repeal. MPR’s Dan Olson will report.

  • Bob Moffitt

    I say ICE should have arrested the CEO of Chipotle and left the workers alone.

  • Bob Collins

    But Sasha’s story points out that many of the documents presented to business to show legality, are fake. And people can’t tell the difference. That’s why I say it’s a simple issue until it’s not.

  • bsimon

    I agree with holding employers accountable for hiring people who cannot legally work. But the gov’t is doing an atrocious job of helping employers identify who can work legally. My wife works in HR; when they have called SSA about questionable cards, they are told to accept them. Chipotle appears to be working in good faith to follow the law. I don’t think its reasonable to ask employers to do more than that.

  • Tyler

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I seem to recall the Packers tie guy had only worked at the dealership for a month and a half. That’s well within the probationary period for most companies – if it was me, I sure wouldn’t be looking for ways to rock the boat. Not in this job economy.

  • kwatt

    Hmm, won’t give his last name, reluctant to say where’s he’s from, won’t say if he’s here legally.

  • mulad

    My gut tells me Chipotle knew they had significant numbers of illegal workers on their rolls, for two main reasons.

    First, corporations are beholden to their shareholders above all else, which inherently leads to pathological behaviors (go rent 2003’s “The Corporation”). “Is this good for the Company?” Hell yes it is, at least until we get caught.

    Second, Chipotle claims to be guided by a number of liberal ideals. Go to any location and you’ll see them advertising their free-range chicken and antibiotic-free, organic pork. There’s a strong overlap between people who care about how animals are raised and those who care about human rights issues. If you believe that people have a right to work regardless of their background, your morals may guide you to break the law by overlooking a little missing or faked documentation.

    Chipotle is hardly alone in hiring illegal workers, though they are relatively unique in being a Mexican-themed restaurant which shows off its kitchen and the workers within. It was inevitable that they’d be targeted by ICE. I’m sure they have been before and will be again.

    I don’t like seeing companies break the law, though I’m sympathetic to the moral arguments in favor of allowing illegals to work. I’m fairly ambivalent about the whole thing as long as companies don’t exploit their workers. If companies are quashing complaints through threats of exposing their workers, making them work 16-hour shifts, paying tiny wages, etc., then I definitely shift in favor of exposing and prosecuting the company and its management. Unfortunately, it’s more common to just see the workers taken away without any real repercussions for the companies that exploit them.

    I doubt that Chipotle exploited their workers in any way, other than perhaps paying them a bit less than they should.

  • Bob Collins

    I think the Sun Times said he’s sold 13 cars so far this month. That’s kind of good, isn’t it?

  • andy

    He’s already taken (or at least been offered) a new job from a rival dealership. Being a Packer fan living in Chicago, I can relate to this guy a bit. Some of the Bear fans are nuts! I tend to keep a much lower profile however for the sake of self preservation.

  • Joanna

    I’m angry with the Obama administration’s lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform at the same time that they are tightening the screws with this kind of action. Are they putting pressure on the companies? Sure!. But who is paying the price? not the company, but the workers and our families: my neighbors, and the kids who go to my kid’s school. Chipotle is off my list of businesses to patronize.

  • progress

    Hey now their thinkin’

    They can get them employees to work at those tread mill desks and hook er up like a wind mill so that she powers the whole build’n.