On Monday evening, employees at Lanesplitter Pizza's Temescal location walked out in protest of working conditions at the popular East Bay pizzeria chain.
In a press release circulated on Reddit and Facebook, workers added that, in addition to labor conditions, they also walked out to raise awareness about "poor food quality of the company" -- and were met with a standing ovation from customers when they left the restaurant.
According to the exasperated workers, Lanesplitter hasn't treated its employees as well as it claims.
The company, which operates five locations in the East Bay, says it prides itself on creating a nurturing working environment for employees by offering "breaks, paid vacation, a 401k plan, a generous meal plan, employee discounts, and access to health care." However, the employees who orchestrated the walkout say that the company uses "impossible requirements" to keep the majority of workers from accessing the health plan. The workers' press release claims that less than 10% of employees have access to health care, while Lanesplitter says the number is 25%. The company also noted in a statement that one of the employees who walked out on Monday is on the health care plan.
In addition to the debate over health care, workers also cited blatant misogyny by management staff as a catalyst for the walkout. The press release quotes an anonymous employee as saying, "We are leaving tonight because we are no longer willing to take the misogyny, emotional abuse, horrible pay, disrespect, and unpredictable schedule."
In its response, the company explained, "While we don't currently have a female general manager, the most recent vacancy was offered to a woman first, but she chose to stay employed by us in a different position...In addition, we have given ownership in the business to ten employees over the years and six of them are women."
However, Lanesplitter was curiously mum on the subject of its food quality. Perhaps the company sees those claims as the least of their worries, but to us pizza fanatics, it's a top priority. Comments on Reddit allege everything from wilted and bruised lettuce in salads to burnt crusts to cross-contamination of vegan and gluten-free ingredients. You can go sample the fare and judge for yourself -- or read a former kitchen manager's account of Lanesplitter's food prep here.