Some out of work after McDonald’s stores change hands

Published 10:08 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Some area McDonald’s workers who were employed Tuesday were out looking for work Wednesday.

Two Austin restaurants and one in Albert Lea changed hands from Dave Scherer to Courtesy Corporation this week, and Courtesy Corp. did not hire all of Scherer’s former employees.

Scherer estimated that at the time he sold his stores, he had about 55 employees at 1009 Oakland Ave. W. and 35 employees at 1402 14th St. NW.

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Courtesy Corp. declined to say how many of Scherer’s employees they hired.

In a written statement Thursday, Courtesy Corp. president Rick Lommen said, “All employees of the prior owner were given the first opportunity to interview, and a majority were offered positions.”

On the contrary, several of Scherer’s employees who were not hired by Courtesy Corp. said they believe a minority were offered jobs.

During the restaurant take-over Wednesday, Lommen explained that all employees at the three McDonald’s were asked to reapply and interview for their positions earlier this month.

“When I sold the store, my employees were released to seek work with Courtesy Corp. if they wanted,” Scherer explained.

Among those who lost their jobs were Mark Snater, who had been a maintenance person and trainer at the restaurant on Oakland Avenue since August; Kristin Choronzy, full-time assistant manager at the 14th Street store, who had been with the company under Scherer since 2004; Maurice McFarlin, full-time maintenance person at the same 14th Street store since August; Robert Ludvik, a part-time crew trainer at the 14th Street store, who had worked with the company for the majority of the past two years; and Annette Wilson, who had worked at the Oakland Avenue store since June.

Courtesy Corporation is based in Onalaska, Wis. The franchise of McDonald’s now owns and operates 42 restaurants in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and Decorah, Iowa.

Scherer said he cannot hire his former employees without the approval of Courtesy Corp. for a certain length of time.

However, after the sale, Scherer did get approval to re-hire one employee, after Courtesy Corp. declined to hire her at the Oakland store. Scherer said he hired the employee for one of his Albert Lea stores. The supervisor had worked for him for more than 20 years.

Lommen said Wednesday that Courtesy Corp. tends to hire a lot of high school students as part-time workers, and has very high standards, including appearance.

Lommen said Courtesy Corp. plans to have about 100 employees at the Oakland Avenue store. Scherer estimated that he had 55 employees at that location.

“Courtesy Corporation is committed to having the best employees serving our customers. At Courtesy Corporation we invest in our employees by offering a higher starting wage, an increase in benefits including medical and dental insurance along with our McScholar tuition match program, up to $4,000,” Lommen said in Thursday’s written statement.

All former employees interviewed said Courtesy Corp. did not offer them a reason for why they were not hired. Courtesy Corp. declined to comment as to whether explanations were given.

“I wish they would have just tried us out, before judging all of us,” Choronzy said.

She said her job brought $1,700 a month to her household.

“I am very sorry anyone lost their jobs,” Scherer said.

“That part was not my choice,” he added.

Courtesy Corporation held a job fair in Austin Thursday.