The Closing Bell: Amazon’s wage increase to affect local workers, move prompts UPS Teamsters action; kids’ meal ordinance kicks in; and more

Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.

Amazon’s minimum wage increase to impact all Louisville area workers

Amazon’s Jeffersonville facility | Photo by Boris Ladwig

Following an announcement this week by Amazon that it would raise its minimum wage to $15, a spokeswoman told Insider that all of the company’s roughly 5,000 employees in the Louisville area would be impacted.

The online retail giant operates four warehouses in Shepherdsville and one in Jeffersonville.

Employees who already earn $15 per hour will get a raise of about $1 per hour, a spokeswoman, Melanie Etches, said in an email.

The minimum wage increase also will mean higher pay for seasonal workers.

However, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Amazon also was eliminating bonuses and stock awards, with some employees saying that despite the raises, they would be earning less.

Amazon disputed that in a statement it emailed to Insider.

“The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase-out of incentive pay and RSUs (restricted stock units),” the company said, also stating that employees prefer the higher wages because the compensation will be “more immediate and predictable.”

New wage rates will take effect Nov. 1.  —Boris Ladwig

Amazon wage increase prompts Louisville Teamsters action


UPS package handlers in Louisville this week encouraged fellow Teamsters union members to vote against a contract proposal because its starting wage, at $13, would be below Amazon’s new minimum wage for U.S. workers.

“UPS Teamsters should never make less than Amazon workers,” Teamster Local 89, based in Louisville, said on its Facebook page.

“The fact that Amazon, a non-union company that works closely with UPS, will now have a $15 dollar starting rate only makes it all the more insulting that our members are currently voting on a $13 dollar starting rate,” the local union said.

Local 89 said Amazon’s raise “should be all the more reason to reject the (national contract) and tell (national Teamsters leaders) and UPS to address this grave injustice.”

The contract proposal would cover about 260,000 Teamsters nationwide, including 7,000 part-time package handlers at Worldport and another 1,000 at Centennial and Bluegrass ground hubs in Louisville.

Fred Zuckerman, president of Local 89, one of the nation’s largest, has opposed the tentative five-year agreement, telling Insider that it’s “just a bad contract.” However, an ally of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa told Insider that Zuckerman’s opposition is a result of politics — not of any substantive issue with the proposal. Zuckerman and a fellow Teamsters leader in Boston hope to oust Hoffa in the next Teamsters election in 2021.

Voting on the contract proposal closes at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. Votes will be tallied that evening.  —Boris Ladwig

Louisville ordinance targets kids’ meals at restaurants


Louisville restaurants that offer children’s meals will be subject to an anti-obesity ordinance that goes into effect Friday, Oct. 5.

The legislation, passed earlier this year by the Louisville Metro Council, requires affected restaurants to make sure children’s meals that come with drinks have at least one healthy default beverage, such as milk or water.

Those businesses also have to offer at least one of these menu options: at least one-quarter cup of an unfried vegetable, excluding white potatoes, or fruit; a substantially whole-grain product; or a lean protein.

However, if a customer prefers to order different options, such as a soda or fries, for a child, that’s allowed, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance was proposed by the local chapter of the American Heart Association amid concern about the effects that poor nutrition can have on children’s weight and health.

The ordinance states that “a child with obesity is more likely to have obesity as an adult. And an adult with obesity has a higher risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many types of cancer.”

Violations of the ordinance eventually will carry a penalty, ranging from $25 to $100, that could be assessed per day. But while an educational campaign takes place, no civil fines will be doled out until June 7, 2019, according to a city Q&A. —Darla Carter

Barry’s Cheesesteaks closer to opening second location

Owner Barry Washington | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The popular South End eatery Barry’s Cheesesteaks and More soon will open a second location in Old Louisville.

Owner Barry Washington posted a video on the restaurant’s Facebook page announcing the forthcoming new store, adding that the offering will feature a pared-down “express” menu, with cheesesteaks, burgers and the restaurant’s signature seasoned B-RIGHT fries.

The second location will be located at 1161 S. Second St. at the corner of Oak Street, a space that most recently housed a Cajun restaurant called Geechee Bayou. The original location will remain open at 7502 Preston Highway.

Barry’s draws a crowd anytime it is open, leading to extended waits for food at times. But the restaurant’s loyalists aren’t deterred, even if the wait sometimes reaches an hour. Adding another location near downtown, Washington explained, will help better serve the customer base.

Washington said a target open date hasn’t been set, but construction is well underway.

“We’re close,” he said. “We’re well-invested in this now. A lot of people are excited.”

The kitchen capacity will be larger than the original, with more grill space and ultimately more people cooking, meaning wait times should be improved at the Old Louisville location, he said. That could ultimately lead to expanding the menu to match the original location as the business gets its footing.

“We’re taking it to a whole other level,” he said. “I’m just excited, and to be honest, I didn’t know the business would grow like it’s growing.” —Kevin Gibson

Papa John’s investor: Stick to pizza

Papa John’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza | Courtesy of Business Wire

After activist investor Legion Partners Asset Management disclosed that it shared a 5.5 percent stake in Papa John’s International with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, one of the firm’s leaders offered the executives at the pizza chain some advice: Sell pizzas, don’t trade in controversy.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Legion Partners’ managing director Ted White said his firm has spoken with Papa John’s officials recently about adding board members with restaurant expertise, cutting costs and restoring morale.

“We want to get back to the business of selling pizza and away from the business of dealing with controversy,” White told the WSJ.

Current Papa John’s leadership and Legion Partners have indicated that they want the pizza chain to move away from its fight with founder John Schnatter, though it doesn’t seem that Schnatter, who owns a 30 percent stake in the company, is ready to give up the fight.

The disclosure by Legion Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System came after Reuters reported that Papa John’s was open to entertaining bids from potential buyers. —Caitlin Bowling

Kentucky Peerless Distilling finishes first rick house in Henry County

A look at the new Kentucky Peerless rick house in Henry County | Courtesy of Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, a grand opening ceremony was held on 19 acres of land in Henry County to celebrate the first completed one-story rick house for Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. The bourbon distillery, which is located in downtown Louisville, purchased the land in 2017 and broke ground earlier this year.

It marks the first bourbon-related structure in Henry County; in September, it was reported that Angel’s Envy soon plans to build a second distillery and five rick houses in the county as well.

According to a news release by Kentucky Peerless, the distillery eventually plans to build six 5,300-barrel rick houses on the land, but currently, it is only working on No. 2. As its rye whiskey and bourbon continues being produced, the distillery needs additional space to age barrels. —Sara Havens

Galt House searching for first-ever Artist-In-Residence for spring 2019

The Galt House is ready for your art. | Courtesy

The Galt House announced it was hosting its first-ever Artist-In-Residence program, and the call went out to area artists interested in a fairly sweet deal.

Not only does the chosen artist get a free working studio to create in, but they also get a $1,000-a-month stipend, marketing support, a location to sell artwork and exposure to the art-buying community.

The nine-month residency will run from May 2019 to February 2020, and the artist will be required to host his or her first exhibit in June. The artist will have to spend a minimum of 20 hours a week in the studio provided by the Galt House and also work with staff on developing programming each month for the First Friday Trolley Hop.

Applications are now being accepted, and the deadline is Jan. 14. The selection committee includes notable members of the arts community like Christen Boone of Fund for the Arts, Sarah Lindgren of Louisville Forward, Moira Payne of the Kentucky College of Arts + Design, Jael Harrington of the Louisville Downtown Partnership and more. —Sara Havens

In Brief

The Louisville Downtown Partnership is holding its annual downtown residential open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Check-in is on the 16th floor of The Residences at Omni, 200 W. Liberty Street.

Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company announced an undisclosed multiyear donation to the University of Louisville Athletics, designed to help expand community service efforts and fund projects.

Marland Cole, who has served in leadership roles at Hosparus, Baptist Health and what is now KentuckyOne, will lead a new city organization called Cradle to Career/Louisville Promise as executive director.

R. “Rip” Phillips, the principal broker with Keller Williams Louisville, is the newly named president of the Kentucky Realtors for 2019.