Family Values @ Work

Dunkin’ Donuts protest calls for sick days

April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012

NEW BEDFORD — A dozen protesters clad in bright orange T-shirts marched and chanted in front of Dunkin’ Donuts on Kempton Street today, calling for that corporation and others to provide workers with earned sick time.

“Dunkin’ Donuts makes million of dollars,” said Rachel Mulroy, an apprentice organizer for the Coalition Against Poverty. “It’s time for them to give back to their employees.”

Justin Drake, public relations manager for Dunkin’ Donuts, responded via email, saying: “Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants are owned and operated by individual franchisees who are responsible for making their own business decisions such as hours of operation, employee wages and the benefits they offer their employees including sick leave and vacation time. They are required to comply with all state, federal and local laws.”

He did not address whether the Canton-based corporation was opposing legislation sponsored by the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition that would allow workers to earn time off — one hour for every 30 worked — to care for themselves or their families.

The protest was one of four statewide rallies organized by the Paid Leave Coalition, New England United for Justice, the Coalition Against Poverty and the Coalition for Social Justice to target Dunkin’ Donuts and KFC as two large companies who do not support earned sick days.

Ron Ptaszenski of New Bedford said he was protesting because of what happened to him about 18 months ago.

A day before his daughter was to be hospitalized for treatment of ulcerative colitis, Ptaszenski said he called his employer — whom he declined to name — asking for time off.

“He flat-out told me, ‘If you’re not at work tomorrow you’re out of a job.’ I wasn’t in for three days. I’m not working.”