Beginning in October employees at Starbucks, the giant coffee retailer, will be taking home about 5 percent more money in their paychecks. Howard Schultz, CEO of the Seattle-based company, sent a letter to workers last week explaining that the exact amounts of the raises will be determined by market as well as geographic factors.
There are about 7,600 Starbucks across the country. The company does not disclose the exact amounts of starting salaries for their employees, saying it is based on the specific market factors effecting each store individually.
Wages that companies pay for entry level jobs has been an important topic for candidates this election year. The Democratic Party policy platform will most likely include a desire to see a $15 federal minimum wage slowly implemented. Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he prefers the issue of minimum wage be left to individual states to decide.
I addition to wages, Starbucks employees have been demanding that the company give them more predictable and reliable working hours. A petition advanced by a Starbucks employee said that the company was reducing work hours to save on labor costs. The petition said that it is almost impossible to work more than a 25-hour work week, and that the cuts in labor was having a bad effect on worker morale and customer service.
Schultz, who has been in touch with Jaime Prater, the employee who started the petition, said that Starbucks is ready to work with their employees to give them the hours that they need. He added that the company was committed to helping its employees find the right schedule which will insure that they are entitled to worker’s benefits.
Nine new gates may be just the beginning of a major expansion at O’Hare International Airport, already one of the busiest airports in the world.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he has reached an agreement with several major airlines to build as many as nine new gates, while they continue to negotiate on the possibility of an even larger expansion which could make O’Hare a more convenient airport for passengers boarding and debarking from planes.
Explaining what the expansion would mean for Chicago Emanuel said: “New York, London, Berlin, Beijing — watch out, Chicago’s coming for you.”
The airport has been expanding little by little under the ongoing long-term plans for growth, but that growth has been realized mostly in new runways. A deal on additional gates has been alluding airport planners. Most of the push-back has come from the dominant airlines of United and American, which are worried about allowing for too much competition.
It is unavoidable to add gates, however, if the airport wants to improve its on-time performance. The new runways being built will not help the airport significantly if there are not places for landed planes to park and let their passengers disembark. The result of this lack of gates is that O’Hare has some of the longest flight delays among US airports. With passengers avoiding Chicago, the city’s economy is adversely affected as well.
The plan Emanuel announced involves as many as nine gates to the 25 which already exist at Terminal 5. It is expected to cost $300 million, to be paid for with existing passenger facility charges, the extra fee that is added to the cost of a plane ticket.
The iconic North Shore neighborhood of Lake Forest has one of slowest real estate markets in its peer group. Homes that were sold in May were on the market an average of 186 days. In the middle of June there were 97 homes which had been listed at least 6 months ago. Other areas with similar homes had less than 20 for sale that long. Hinsdale had 46 homes and Highland Park 57.
“It’s been slow up here,” says Marina Carney, an agent for Griffith, Grant & Lackie. “We’re all feeling it,” says Berkshire Hathaway Home-Services Koenig-Rubloff Realty Group agent Sue Beanblossom, in Lake Forest. “It takes a long time to get something sold in Lake Forest today.”
According to Midwest Real Estate Data, at the end of May Lake Forest had enough homes to supply sales for 14.5 months. In just about all its peers, such as Hinsdale and other North Shore suburbs, the inventory is quite smaller. For those other areas it was between three and 10.5 months at the end of May. A rule of thumb is that a healthy, balanced market has about six months of inventory.
Winnetka is a similar suburb to Lake Forest, but considerably smaller. Nevertheless, seven homes priced at over $5 million has sold in Winnetka in the past three years. In Lake Forest only four have sold.
Real estate agents say that the problem is three-fold: the age of the homes in Lake Forest; the extremely high asking prices; a long commute to downtown Chicago, combined with low-motivated sellers.
Come next spring Southwest Airlines stewardesses will be dolled up in new, Cintas-designed uniforms nothing like their skimpy, eye-catching look of the 1970s. The new uniforms were co-designed with employees of Southwest as well.
Cintas is also creating a uniform facelift for Chicago-based United Airlines, due for exposure next year. Coming in September travelers on American will also be greeted with freshly designed uniforms.
The new uniforms for all three airlines seem to be part of an overall improvement in customer service in the wake of record profits resulting from historic low fuel prices. They are also revamping, along with their uniforms, their images and brands.
Now that Southwest Air is turning 45 it appears they are trying for a more “mature” image. There company has certainly expanded, with 90 destinations, including some international markets.
The new look for the female flight attendants on Southwest features bold blue and warm red: the colors seen on the new Southwest uniform that was launched in the fall of 2014. On top of the uniforms will be Bold red fitted jackets, and an homage to the crazy short shorts and miniskirts of the 70s with a well-placed zipper running up the dress from the hem. The men FAs will get a new look, too, consisting of dark blue pants and jackets over lighter blue shirts. Their neckties will be a bold and brave red.