In a city with staggeringly high real estate costs, and where a 4 oz. jar of mayonnaise can be purchased for $10, it’s always somewhat surprising to come across genuine discounts—surprising and, of course, rare. It’s this rarity that makes cheap goods and serviced so prized then, with some of these goods and services even inspiring a cult-like devotion (think: your favorite, top-secret cheap manicure chain; or, you know, don’t) in part because of how anomalous they are, sure, but also because some of these things seem like they’d be a good buy at just about any price. And perhaps chief among these things is the dollar slice. Filling, delicious food at a cost that’s actually affordable? Amazing! What could be better? As it turns out: Literally anyhing.
The New York Daily News has revealed that one of the most successful of New York’s dollar pizza chains, 2 Bros., has had a lawsuit filed against it by workers charging that the real cost of all that cheap pizza has been paid by them, and that they have been working increasingly long hours for less than minimum wage. A lawyer for the workers tells the News that 2 Bros. “built their dollar pizza empire on the backs of my clients and other workers by grossly underpaying them… It’s just unfair.”
And, yes, it is unfair. It is also one of those things that—if you thought about it for just a minute as you stood in line for your dollar slices—is surprising only in how obvious it is. Because of course there’s no way in this city for someone not to be paying a high price in order for someone else to get a deal. That’s just the way this place works. And it isn’t enough anymore for us to vaguely dismiss labor injustices by making excuses like, “well, it’s all part of being a new immigrant” or “if they don’t want the job, someone else will take it.” Places like 2 Bros. shouldn’t be patronized by anyone who cares about workers’ rights, and other dollar pizza joints should be viewed with as much skepticism as nail salons that offer $6 manicures, and probably not get your business either.
That’s easy to preach, of course, and even practice, when you have enough money to spend more than a dollar or two on lunch every day; the difference between giving up cheap food versus cheap manicures is that one is a necessity (well, maybe not dollar pizza exactly, but, you know) and one is a luxury. And yet there has to be a line in the sand drawn about what conscientious consumers will and won’t partake in, because it’s become more and more difficult to deny that while the best things in life may still be free, the cost of cheap things is actually too high to bear.
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