Pizza Girl: This IS the Industry

Every week, Pizza Girl (Diary of a Pizza Girl) stops by with insights and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of pizza-delivery drivers.

I really wanted to do something positive for my second post here because Slice is such a positive, happy pizza-land. But as I'm writing this I can't seem to find the writing groove on anything except the battle I'm in with my employer over wages. When Adam asked me to do these segments, it was so that I could be a voice that's inside the delivery industry. I've been researching, asking around, and discovering that this problem IS the industry. I find myself forced more and more to be that whistle-blower employee who calls out my employer (hereafter referred to as The Man) on deceptive practices.

Let's get a few things out of the way. I acknowledge that The Man's goal is to make the most profit and that one way to do this is to lower labor and that one way to do that is to pay drivers less. The Man balances this with the need to have quality employees (who are unlikely to be attracted to bottom-of-the-barrel wages). I have no problem with these things; I agreed to them when I decided to work here. At the same time, to maintain a reputation among the masses, there needs some sort of quality control on both product and process. The quality-control system that is in place is broken; It encourages managers to cheat in order to make pizzas appear as if they are getting to customers faster. I have some problem with that, but it's not my place to tell anyone how to run a business. I start to care when the broken system conspires with cost-cutting to cheat me out of the wages that I work hard for.

Recently the driver pay format was changed from a flat rate to a split rate, one rate—a higher one—while I'm "in-store" (as defined by not being checked out on a delivery) and another rate while I am out of store on a delivery (as defined by my being routed on a delivery in the computer).

In order to show lower delivery times, managers encourage in-store employees to check pizzas off of the make-line computer early (before the pizzas are in the oven) so that they show up as ready-to-be-routed more quickly. Drivers are encouraged to check out the pizzas before they are ready for delivery (sometimes they aren't even in the oven yet) so that the store's delivery time looks lower.

Imagine the Pizza Tracker (you know which one I'm talking about). The thing is partially timer, partially based on what is checked out where. Have you ever seen it go to "in the oven" much much more quickly than you think it would? (Especially when the quoted delivery time was an hour?) This is essentially the same concept.

The Man can't pretend that he doesn't know this is going on. Despite the fact that everyone is on their best behavior during inspections (we even got docked on our inspection for checking a pizza off the make-line early out of habit), I have worked at two different stores and under four different general managers. It's a reasonable assumption that it is prevalent at least districtwide, making it a de-facto policy.

Now that we have the split pay rate I am refusing to check out deliveries before they are ready. I have talked to my general managers about this, and they agree that they can't force me to do it. However, one manager has indicated that they are further cheating the system by rewarding drivers who agree to route deliveries early by allowing them to take deliveries while they are checked in and making the in-store rate, netting those drivers a higher paycheck. I would hope that it is clear to you the problem I have with this. The Man has essentially created an environment within the store that penalizes me for insisting that someone be accountable for what I get paid. I want to know exactly what I'm getting paid at all times and know that I am getting paid my proper rate.

There are two directions to go about solving this problem. The first and easiest would be to return drivers to the flat rate. The second would be to fix the system.

I don't know if what The Man is doing is illegal. It is certainly deceptive and immoral. I've debated at what point this is worth quitting over. I'll be taking this up with my district manager next week. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, the managers are working in a system that's beyond their control, but I can't do nothing.

Thoughts, tips, or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

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