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Dozens without jobs after OCF Coffee House abruptly closes all three cafés in Philadelphia

OCF closes Philadelphia coffee shops days after workers announced plan to form a union
OCF closes Philadelphia coffee shops days after workers announced plan to form a union 02:13

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) — More than 30 people are now without jobs after the sudden closure of all three remaining OCF Coffee House locations throughout the city.

Former employees of OCF Coffee House rallied outside of the now-closed Fairmount corner café Tuesday.

"We've been paid really bad wages, and this was our attempt to get better wages and make the place that we love better," former barista Rexxi said.

The coffee shops are owned by OCF Realty.

The real estate brokerage announced the closures, which includes two other locations in South Philly, to employees in an email on Monday.

Workers like Alex Simpson said they were shocked to learn they no longer had jobs.

"I am pretty crushed, especially because it's such a blatant response to our union process. This comes a week after we publicly announced our union," Simpson said.

Former employees said they started the process of forming a union earlier this month.

According to workers, they made anywhere from $9 to $13 an hour along with fluctuating tips.

"The majority of our income came from tips and support from the community," Simpson said. "However, those were incredibly unstable. In the winter they could be as low as $6 to $8 an hour."

Former employees said they attempted to bring their concerns to management.

OCF Realty President and CEO Ori Feibush spoke to CBS News Philadelphia over the phone.

He said he held meetings on Monday to hear from workers, but very few attended.

"No one showed," Feibush said. "So, those conversations have not been able to happen. We've unilaterally extended health, vision and dental for every staff member for three months."

"He owns a chunk of this city so we're very confused as to why he couldn't pay us a couple more dollars an hour," Rexxi said.

Feibush said the coffee shops already operated at a loss and he's not against workers unionizing. Instead, he said it's the cost of legal services that come along with the union that added to the decision to close.

"A decision as difficult as that one is never simplistic," Feibush said. "You had an organization that was already at its limit. It was at its limit and it did not have the capacity to continue to burn an additional cost."

The closures are not just affecting the company and former employees; they're also leaving some longtime customers without their favorite coffee shops.

"The loss of these is another blow of places you can actually go in and just chill out, drink some coffee and do some work," former customer Mason Shihab said.

Feibush said the company is currently discussing the possibility of severance packages for former employees. They've also received several inquiries about other companies taking over the coffee house locations.

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