Six former employees of Quick n’ Easy #4 in Red Boiling Springs staged a protest on Tuesday, just a day after new ownership took possession of the business. The protest took place on the sidewalk across the street from the gas station/ convenience store, where they stood waving and shouting to cars as they passed or turned into the business.
Their signs carried such messages as “Americans needing a Job,” “Quick-n-Easy no no,” “6 Jobs lost,” “Boycott Quick-n-Easy,” “U picked the wrong town,” and “This is how RBS rolls.” According to the protesters, they lost their jobs when the new owner came in and brought family members to replace them.
Former manager of the store, Paula Kelly, told her side of the story: “So after the sale, they called me out and told me they were firing all my employees. I told them that wouldn’t work for me. He said I could have two others at twenty hours a week, and was giving me a raise. I told the girls—don’t sign anything, go home; don’t do it, drawing unemployment would be better. I wouldn’t work for him because he wouldn’t keep my crew.”
The other five former employees were Willy Brown, Peggy Nelson, Casey Clariday, Melissa Grizzle, and Abby Crowe.
Nill Patel, the new owner, who is originally from India and owns other businesses in the Carthage, TN area, said that he kept three employees, and only brought in one new employee—his partner, Gary. He said he recognized a need to downsize and assign hours differently.
“Last night at 6 o’clock one of the employees just left,” said Patel. “Then this morning my partner got a call that one of the girls was leaving, so she left the store open and threw the key on the floor. The store stayed open with no one there for half an hour.
“I’m looking for people. If you can, let people know we are looking for employees. They are trying to make a scene so we lose the business, but that’s not right, you know. I’ve got a lot of businesses, I have about 70-80 American people that work for me. And they’re telling me that I’m stealing jobs? I’m a job creator. My partner is working at that location, so I’m not going to need as many people, but we kept three.”
As of Wednesday morning, Patel had filled all the open positions with new American employees, and said that he was going to remove his partner from the location after all, for personal safety reasons. “At 4 pm yesterday, we got a threatening phone call,” he said. “The person used the ‘m’ word, and used the ‘f’ word, and said he was going to kill them. Then this morning someone came in in person and did the same thing, and then ran away—he said he was going to come in with a gun and shoot them. It’s not worth it, you know? The police may take 20 minutes to arrive, and a gun takes one second. So I’m getting my people out of there and we’ll put all American employees in there. I’ve already found a good manager from another location.”