Employee Sends Resignation Letter To Jim SurdykBy Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Surdyk’s employee resigned Monday over the owner opening on a Sunday. Jim Surdyk decided to open his store and sell alcohol on Sunday, even though the Sunday liquor sale law doesn’t officially go into effect until July. The city of Minneapolis fined Surdyk’s and suspended the liquor license for 30 days.

Surdyk took the law into his own hands when he decided to open on a Sunday, nearly four months before the law goes into effect.

A Surdyk’s cheese shop employee felt so strongly about the move she gave her resignation letter.

“I am not upset because of needing to work Sundays. But, I would never ever get used to working for someone who thinks they are above the law,” Kari Johnson wrote in part.

Employees told WCCO they were asked to work on a special project, not specifically to sell alcohol.

“We kind of just told them that we needed them to come in and work,” Surdyk told WCCO on Sunday.

The city of Minneapolis served Surdyk a letter, complete with a $2,000 fine and a liquor license suspension for 30 days starting July 2, the day Sunday sales become legal. Other liquor store owners were admittedly angry.

“The fact that I’m a really small store in a small, little corner of downtown and I’m competing with someone like Surdyk, I just felt that was really unfair,” Carl Callerstrom, owner of Mill City Wine & Spirits said.

“It really upset me because he was giving himself an unfair advantage while breaking the law,” Bill Princeton of Princeton’s Liquors said.

And they hope the suspension sticks.

“He thought he could do this and what goes around comes around. I mean everything that he sold on Sunday was gotten illegally,” Callerstrom said.

Surdyk can appeal the sanctions. If the store tries to sell on a Sunday again the city said it will pursue revoking the license.

Here’s the resignation letter in full:

To Jim Surdyk,
This email is my written resignation, my two week notice.

I am not upset because of needing to work Sundays (though I thought it was very poor form for you to so cavalierly and publicly state “they will get used to it.”) In my personal situation, it would not exactly be a hardship.

But, I would never ever get used to working for someone who thinks they are above the law. Sure, it is a very silly law, to not allow Sunday liquor sales. Especially since microbreweries have been selling for months now. And, let it be known, I am all for social change and justice. If not for civil disobedience we would not even have the semblance of equality that we have today. But to break the law just to make a buck? What is next? What other laws or regulations might you consider unnecessary or beneath you? Will you find a reason to fire an employee, one of the few who have insurance, if they get cancer? Will you find a reason to fire someone who makes an OSHA claim in frustration?

Whatever penalty may be assigned to you for so flagrantly and joyfully breaking the law, it will not be a hardship for you. But, should your store be closed for a period of time, a week even, this indeed would be a serious financial burden for most if not all of your employees. Your thinking is unfathomable to me. It used to be embarrassing if one broke the law, something one hid. There seems to be a total lack of ethics and empathy running amok nowadays.

I left teaching because I could no longer abide by the mandate to teach F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby to my new to the country immigrant students, who were reading at a third grade level (on a good day, bless their hearts!) I did not think I would have ethical issues cutting cheese for a living but as the cliche goes, you learn something every day.

Mary, I sincerely thank you for hiring me to work in the cheese shop. In my past 30 years of employment, it remains by far my most positive work experience (until today.) Every day has been not only educational and enjoyable, but also rewarding (in a way that would take too long to explain here and anyway is surely not of interest to the powers that be). I am very sorry indeed to be leaving.

Kari Johnson


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