Vegans Behaving Badly? Don’t believe everything you read

Looking back through the DFV archives I realized that we have never written a post on the best donut shop in the freekin’ universe, Mighty-O. How good are Mighty-O’s donuts? They won the Food Network Donut Challenge for the title of Best Donut in the Country. That’s best donut, not best vegan donut thank you very much. If you’re a Seattle-ite you probably already know about the O. If you’re not, all I can say is that if you ever visit Seattle, Mighty-O should be your breakfast stop your very first morning here.

This past Saturday the D family decided to start our day with breakfast at the Wayward Café as we had Mighty-O the week before. It was an unusual ride for us for no other reason than Steffi was driving. I took this opportunity as a passenger to peruse a local free alt-weekly in this case The Seattle Weekly, a publication of the Village Voice Media empire, the August 8th issue to be exact.

I’m a front to back kinda reader and the very first article I hit in this issue is headlined “Working Stiffed” with the sub-headline “In Seattle’s restaurant industry, job interviews look a lot like free labor” (Note that is the print version, the online sub headline is “Desperate job seekers work for free in hopes of pay”).

You probably haven’t clicked on the link yet so I’m gonna give you the money paragraphs though I suggest you take the time to read it in its entirety. It’s pretty short.

“It has been a food-industry standard (working interviews-ed.),” says Julie Twiggs, general manager of Mighty-O Donuts. “It’s part of the interview process, so instead of having two or three interviews, applicants can see the job itself and if they would like to do it.” Mighty-O has conducted unpaid working interviews for the past five years, and Twiggs says she has seen the practice used over the past 10 years in many Seattle restaurants. However, Twiggs says working interviews have “probably grown a little bit, and are having an effect everywhere.”

Some restaurants, such as Blue Moon Burgers, pay minimum wage for a two-to-four-hour working interview. Others, such as Pasta and Co., do not pay, but provide perks, like a free lunch. As for restaurants that do not pay at all, Twiggs acknowledges there may be ethical issues with not compensating these prospective employees, but says Mighty-O has never addressed them. Pasta and Co., Blue Moon Burgers, and Mighty-O all say between 60 to 80 percent of the applicants they hire have participated in a working interview.”

Well this was quite distressing to the DFV family. One of our favorite places in the whole wide world had been accused of conduct unbecoming a vegan. No f’ing way?!?!?! We were heartbroken.

We’re all for capitalism and support local/small businesses, especially vegan businesses but if you’re against exploitation of animals you logically have to be against the exploitation of humans too, right? We understand the ‘tryout’ idea but the least any employer could do is kick down a little $ and/or free food for somebody who put in a couple hours of work.

Taken at face value, those paragraphs paint M-O in pretty bad light. Paragraph 2 is written in such a way to make the reader believe that M-O doesn’t compensate the prospective employees at all for working a shift while most other establishments do and that is what bothered us so much.

Luckily for us we weren’t in front of our computers and that kept us from hammering out some self-righteous rant. I don’t tweet so I don’t have the temptation to vent in a 140 characters. We went and had our breakfast and contemplated our potentially Mighty-O-less future (the horror, the horror). In case you’re wondering, I did ask and the Wayward does not do working interviews.

Our conclusion was two-fold, it’s local, it’s vegan so we have to write about it and if that’s the case, we have to be responsible & get M-O’s side of the story (and hope like hell they had a good explanation so I don’t have to learn how to make donuts).

Fortunately for all us filthy liberal commies that believe people should be compensated for their work, Ryan from Mighty-O responded to our inquiry and explained the details of their interview process that the Weekly omitted, hitting on 3 major points.

1. The working interview at Mighty-O is only 30-40 minutes, not the 2-4 hours implied in the article.
2. Products made during the interview are not sold but are usually donated or tossed (I’ll assume those are the interviews that didn’t go so well)
3. Prospective employees are given food and beverages for their time.

So it’s not really a full shift without compensation like the Weekly implies. The reality is its a half hour of ‘free labor’ that nobody is making money off of though some charity might benefit and the person performing said labor is given a sack of donuts and cup of coffee. Sign us up. All three of us. We’ll ‘interview’ once a month.

Why the Weekly chose to portray M-O that way I don’t know. Maybe the writer is a friend of the Top Pot folks, the other Seattle shop M-O beat in the Food Network Donut Challenge. Maybe the editors hate vegan donuts. Maybe Ms. Twiggs rebuffed the amorous advances of the writer. Maybe it wasn’t intentional and it just came out that way. Yeaaaahhhh….okay maybe not that last one, but who knows? The moral of the story is don’t trust everything you read.

That and eat more Mighty-O donuts!

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4 Responses to Vegans Behaving Badly? Don’t believe everything you read

  1. April says:

    I really, really hate it when news organizations paint people and companies in a negative light when they don’t deserve it. I hope you write a letter to the editor which will hopefully get published and/or lead to a follow up by them. FYI – that particular news organization is already on my s-list due to their policy of turning a blind eye on se*-trafficing ads being posted through them.

    • We agree, I just don’t understand what was to be gained by singling out the O the way they did. I hadn’t thought writing the editor of the Weekly but I might just print out the post and send it to them. Had we taken the article at its word we might not have ever gone back and that would have been unfortunate for all parties.

      As for the trafficking ads, that’s a bad thing too and way worse that a mediocre hit piece on a local business.

  2. Doh says:

    Wow, that is really interesting! I’ve only recently heard of this phenomenon and consider it a terrible idea. What can a person show you in 1/2 an hour (or 2-4 hours) except how nervous they are and that they don’t know where to find anything? Anyway, I’m glad you found out more from Ryan, it always pays to go to the source.

    • I can’t say we think its a good idea either, but Ryan had some pretty good reasons why (I’ll ask him if its okay to post his letter) and with the no profit/free donuts it’s really hard to have an issue with the process, at least as far as MO concerned. I’ve never worked in a commercial kitchen so I am not in a position to comment on if a couple of hours or less is really enough time to evaluate somebody’s skills.

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