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Barista claims that Ozzie’s owners are java fiends

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A barista fired from the popular Seventh Avenue coffee bar Ozzie’s is claiming home-brewed harassment!

Jeff Bauer, who worked at the Park Slope java joint for more than a year before he was let go in late June, is suing Ozzie’s for unfair labor practices. The disgruntled barista went public with his rage on July 2, when he held a midday rally in front of the Lincoln Place store.

A week later, he led another public protest, brandishing signs accusing the shop of “fresh-squeezed mistreatme­nt.”

Bauer says that Ozzie’s management created a hostile work environment, and cut his hours when he complained to customers about his treatment.

The bad workplace situation came to a head when Bauer was challenged by the general manager’s boyfriend.

“He [the boyfriend] took me downstairs and told me, ‘I’m gonna kick your ass,’ ” Bauer said. “It got to the point where I didn’t feel safe.”

Bauer also accuses Ozzie’s of unfairly discriminating against him when the owners, Allon and Melissa Azulai, got word this June of his affiliation with the Industrial Workers of the World, a century-old union with its roots in fighting for wages in the 1920s that has more recently focused its efforts on unionizing Starbucks.

But the Azulais, who have owned and operated Ozzie’s for 17 years, are adamant that Bauer’s charges are severely overcaffeinated. Bauer was not fired because of his union status, they say, but because he failed to meet Ozzie’s customer service standards.

“I’m flabbergasted by this,” said Allon Azulai, who claimed that he has never seen an employee act like this. “We treat our employees well, but he was constantly complaining to customers and other employees. Customers didn’t like it, and it was hurting our business. How would you feel if you hired an assistant, and every time someone talked to him, he trashed you?”

Azulai added that Bauer was “a good guy,” but that he was extremely paranoid, to the point where he believed that the shop’s security cameras were spying on him. The Ozzie’s owner hopes that the controversy blows over soon, and that Bauer will find another job somewhere else.

Bauer, on the other hand, plans to keep applying pressure until his former employer reaches its boiling point.

“I’m not just fighting for my job back; I’m sending a clear message to bosses everywhere that you cannot get away with harassing, mistreating or retaliating against workers who stand up for themselves,” he said.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Rob from Greenpoint says:
Gee, what a tempest in a coffee pot.
Some people are shameless...
This guy sounds like a pain in the butt, and I certainly
wouldn't hire him.
Now he's holding a rally? Puhleeze.
July 13, 2010, 9 am
richie rich from parkslope says:
the last time i was in ozzie's was 3 weeks ago, i was dissapointed, the place was dirty and ice cafe was way over price. i don't go to ozzie's anymore.
July 13, 2010, 11:21 am
Michael from Park Slope says:
Complaining to customers about your boss is a fireable offense. If I was his boss, I would harrass him too. If you have an issue with your boss, file a suit or quit and find another job. But the act of complaining to customers renders him defenseless.
July 13, 2010, 12:05 pm
Nicole from Kensington says:
So you guys are taking the boss's word for it when he makes up stories about an employee who's fighting back? ALL the baristas complain to the customers at Ozzies! Not to mention, Ozzies does have a reputation as being a crappy place to work with an jerk of a boss.

But go ahead, insult a worker who is fighting for a safe work environment and to unionize. Do you folks who criticize him even have to WORK for a living?

Without Unions, you would have no weekend, no 40 hour max work week, no OSHA regulating safety in the work environment.

The only rights workers have come from Unions, and the only way to protect our rights is to support each other.
July 13, 2010, 6:59 pm
Joan from Park Slope says:
I stopped going to this Ozzie's location after one of the baristas started arguing with and challenging me after HE got my order wrong. If you're so tired from going out the night before and can't remember what I said, I think that's your problem. Anyways, I go to Cousin John's now. Much better coffee and pastries.
July 13, 2010, 10:37 pm
GEK from Park Slope says:
Please. This guy pours coffee for a living, complains about it, gets fired and then holds a protest rally? People like this should just walk off of a cliff.
July 13, 2010, 11:20 pm
tripley from bushwick says:
GEK. please. What kind of jobs don't deserve workers' rights? At what point, or under what circumstances do people get the right to complain about unfair treatment? Are there any other jobs you think employees don't have the right to complain about?
Sounds like you think low-wage workers should die rather than speak up about being exploited. So what category of people do deserve rights?
July 14, 2010, 4:12 am
Damian from Boerum Hill says:
I've been going to Ozzie's from the very beginning and have never had a problem or complaint with the shop nor it's owners - in fact, just the opposite: I know them to be good and fair people, who have had worked hard to make a go of it, and have always sought to make the community of Park Slope a better one.
July 14, 2010, 7:44 am
Julian from LES says:
I work in Park Slope and have been commuting from the Lower East Side for years and have been a patron of Ozzie's the entire time. I have always been treated very well. It is always great to go to a place with no attitude. I go there, they are friendly, I get my coffee and am on my way. It really has always felt like a stronghold of the community - a bastion of what this neighborhood was more like before it became ultra gentrified and over priced. They are fair. In terms of the employee, I am constantly flabbergasted that no one has done any research into his history. Ozzie's has a history of treating people fairly and being an understanding employer ( I have known a number of them throughout the years). What about this guy? As a school teacher for the past 20 years I am all for workers rights, but when a complaint is filed, it must be legitimate and the history of the person must be exposed. This just sounds like someone whining and looking for a soap. Just move on and don't waste our time.
July 14, 2010, 8:11 am
Frank from Bushwick says:
What does this guy want? Free coffee forever? He did a crappy job and got fired. Big deal. Suck it up and move on. This has nothing to do with worker's rights - that is for people who obviously do a GOOD JOB, which this guy did not. Someone call this guy's mom and get her to reprimand him.
July 14, 2010, 8:17 am
Sammy from Park Slope says:
Can't believe a guy like this get's so much publicity. Even in a big business any employee publicly complaining to customers about his employers should be fired. Have always been happy with customer service and the quality of product at both of the Ozzie's shops.
July 14, 2010, 8:19 am
Liza from Park Coffee says:
Ozzie's has been so friendly to our Mom's Group. It is a shame to see someone taking cheap shots at an excellent local business that does right by those of us who participate in this community. Keep it up , Ozzie's . Don't let this guy rain on the sunshine you have brought to Park Slope.
July 14, 2010, 8:21 am
Lizzie from Fort Greene says:
As the granddaughter of a union organizer (and daughter of two union members), I'm appalled by Mr. Baum's behavior. Yes, unions are meant to protect hardworking employees from unprovoked labor injustices. But with that right should come a respect for mature, cooperative problem-solving, a sense of responsibility to one's fellow union workers, and a solid dose of personal integrity. Publicly badmouthing your employer, revealing that you intend to bring him "to his boiling point" in order to achieve unclear ends, and then expecting to keep your position ad infinitum pretty much sums up what I sometimes find distasteful about today's unions. To my view, such behavior is just as corrupt and conniving as any means used to oppress workers.

If I were the Azulais, I would have sent this guy packing faster than you can say "Teamster."
July 14, 2010, 10:11 am
Kyle from Park Slope says:
Nicole from Kensington, you are misinformed. I'm a longtime fan of Ozzie's, their coffee, their employees and the owners -- whom I know personally. Bauer is out of line and grasping at straws in an attempt to get his dignity back. I wish him the best, but he's dead wrong here.
July 14, 2010, 10:15 am
Dave from NY says:
Sounds like this Jeff Bauer guy should get back to CTU ... he only has 24 hours to save the world. Let the coffee professionals run their own sbusiness.
July 14, 2010, 10:21 am
Matthew from NY says:
Impossible that Azulai could have been anything less than above the board. No nicer or more stand-up guy peddling coffee in the 5 boroughs. Whatever hang-up Bauer is bringing to this, it's lame. His "protest" has the effect of making me want to buy /more/ coffee, in support of a great local establishment.
July 14, 2010, 11:26 am
Alistair from Park Slope says:
In all the years since Ozzie’s has been open. I have never witness any protest of any kind. I live in the neighbor and I have been going there for many years and at time, when the weather permits I sit outside on the bench and watch people go by…very relaxing I must say.
Base on the article, I feel that the employee was out of order. Plus, I highly doubt his claim regarding unfair conditions in the workplace. If he is experiencing issues with the establishment he should have contacted the appropriate authority (Dept. of Labor).

I agree with Lizzie from Fort Greene:

“As the granddaughter of a union organizer (and daughter of two union members), I'm appalled by Mr. Baum's behavior. Yes, unions are meant to protect hardworking employees from unprovoked labor injustices. But with that right should come a respect for mature, cooperative problem-solving, a sense of responsibility to one's fellow union workers, and a solid dose of personal integrity. Publicly badmouthing your employer, revealing that you intend to bring him "to his boiling point" in order to achieve unclear ends, and then expecting to keep your position ad infinitum pretty much sums up what I sometimes find distasteful about today's unions. To my view, such behavior is just as corrupt and conniving as any means used to oppress workers.”

If I were the Azulais, I would have sent this guy packing faster than you can say "Teamster."
July 14, 2010, 12:21 pm
Jacob from PS says:
So, this guy Jeffro (the Barister) makes statements and the Brooklyn Paper prints them without confirming the facts. At the Tribune, we have a name for this. Sources reveal that Jeffro Bauer is on Welfare and has Medicaid. Which confirms that he does have some sort of illness after all.
July 14, 2010, 12:54 pm
Pam from PS says:
I have known the owners from Ozzie's for many years and have frequented the 7th Ave. shop often. The employees have always been professional and courteous and service excellent. I have NEVER heard a worker complain to customers or to each other. Jeff Bauer is a disgruntled employee who was fired for legitimate reasons but is now making up stories about attempting to unionize. I am a supporter of unions and their purpose in the workplace, but people like Jeff give unions a bad name. The sad thing is that he is hiding behind his union rhetoric to justify his harrassment and doesn't really care about the workers. By his own statement is doing this until they reach a boiling point. This shows his protest is not to achieve fairness but rather to have his moment of "fame".
July 14, 2010, 1:57 pm
Gabrielle from Chelsea says:
This is ridiculous- I am in Park Slope often and have enjoyed the atmosphere at Ozzie's. It is owned and run by neighborhood people who are fully vested in providing great service and treat their employees with respect. If this guy has so much time on his hands, perhaps he should put his energy towards improving his understanding of the word "work".
July 14, 2010, 10:14 pm
Dwayne from Mill Basin says:
I have been going to Ozzie's for about 7 years now and have never had one of the baristas approached and complain about the work conditions there. From what I have seen both the owners and the managers have always treated the workers with respect. This in turn makes the workers provide great service to their customers.

I agree with Gabrielle from Chelsea: If this guy has so much time on his hands, perhaps he should put his energy towards improving his understanding of the word "work"."
July 15, 2010, 10 am
Mother of Ozzie's Employee from GV says:
I am the mother of a college age employee at Ozzie's. My son has had nothing but wonderful things to say about his employers. They have nurtured and supported him since he was hired (this is his first job) and have instilled in him a work ethic that will serve him well in whatever profession he chooses in the future. My son was incredulous of Jeff Bauer's charges. He loves working in such a friendly, relaxed and supportive atmosphere and has learned the meaning of being a responsible employee. Thank you Melissa and Allon. Unfortunately, this disgruntled employee failed to learn this lesson.
July 16, 2010, 2:27 am
Verny from Park Slope says:
The article says Jeff was verbally threatened at work, which is unacceptable.

Bottom line: It sound like this place is mis-mangaged. Perhaps an more open-door policy would have prevented the drama to begin with.
July 18, 2010, 5:36 pm
Therese from Park Slope says:
Ozzie's is a wonderful, welcoming, community-minded establishment. It's a shame that one person would want to tarnish the hard working owners of this Park Slope stronghold. The fact that many Ozzie's employees have been there for severals years speaks volumes.
July 19, 2010, 2:32 pm
RKV from PS says:
It's quite interesting that during Barister Jeff Bauer's shifts, within a 2-week period (May 2010), 2 robberies occurred during his shifts. In one of them, a young man from Berkeley-Carroll school assisted 78 PCT police in the identify of one of the suspects - later caught at the Grand Army Plaza train station. (See Blotter in this issue). Followed shortly by a woman losing her pocket book less than 2 weeks later. What a strange coincidence.
July 19, 2010, 9:46 pm
Frank from Park Slope says:
As I understood it, Jeff Bauer had nothing to do with those robberies and I was told that he actually was responsible for helping apprehend one of the robbers.

Either way it looks to me like this is an issue that could have been settled internally and no need to involve the general public in such a small matter.

He probably should have just looked for another job.
July 22, 2010, 12:05 am
RKV from PS says:
Bauer had nothing to do with the apprehension of anyone. Two robberies occurred while he was on duty. One person ran after the culprits, another young man who attends Berkeley-Carroll School (whose name I won't mention) actually got into the RMP and helped TTS police capture the brother of one of the thieves. Sorry Frank from Park Slope, you got the facts twisted. And yes, two robberies took place while Barister was on duty. How do I know? I was the first person that ran after the 2 boys. Thanks to ____ from the Berkeley School who joined me in the pursuit - and for handing a description and directly assisting TTS - one of the boys was captured.
Aug. 11, 2010, 2:25 pm
Frank from PS says:
Sounds like a real bad work environment.
Sept. 12, 2010, 12:41 pm
DC from Bed Stuy says:
Wow I really want to meet everyone involved in this dispute.
Dec. 7, 2010, 11:33 am
ABS from Crown Heights says:
I used to work at the Ozzie's on Seventh Ave (can't speak for the one on Fifth as they are completely separate, employee/manager-wise) and it was a great place to work. Decent pay, flexible scheduling, great managers, and Melissa was always really sweet and helpful.

The only person they fired while I worked there was constantly complaining to Melissa about his hours being wrong, and was generally an unpleasant person to be around. I'm going to take the owners' word for it on this one that the employee was in the wrong.
Jan. 4, 2011, 12:09 pm

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