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Attorney for rooftop club workers: Pay up before deal’s sealed

A group youth watch game from rooftop bleacher WavelAve. Wrigley Field Wednesday April 6 2011 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

A group of youth watch the game from a rooftop bleacher on Waveland Ave. at Wrigley Field, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:23AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel should do nothing to protect rooftop clubs overlooking Wrigley Field until club owners stop pocketing a 3 percent “gratuity” that’s supposed to go to rooftop employees, an attorney representing the workers said Tuesday.

The demand from attorney Clinton Krislov stems from allegations made last fall in a class-action lawsuit filed against three rooftop clubs: the Wrigley Field Rooftop Club, 3617 N. Sheffield; the Sheffield Baseball Club, 3619 N. Sheffield, and the Ivy League Baseball Club, 3637 N. Sheffield.

It comes at a time when all 16 rooftop clubs are fighting for their survival. They want City Hall to prevent the Cubs from putting up advertising inside the stadium to bankroll a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field that would block the rooftops’ bird’s-eye view.

On Tuesday, Krislov tried to use that high-stakes dispute to leverage his demand for hundreds of thousands of dollars in gratuities dating back to March, 31, 2008.

He charged that the three rooftop clubs have been automatically applying the 3 percent “gratuity” to their customers’ bills and pocketing the money, instead of forwarding the payment to their employees.

“People who are concerned about their survival ought to treat their employees fairly. Those who want fair treatment should give fair treatment,” Krislov said.

“Customers generally think that ‘gratuity’ goes to employees. What else is it for? Customers should be concerned about gratuity charges used, instead, to add revenue to a business. The city does have deals that require contractors to treat their employees fairly. This should be no different. If you want a fair deal from the city, do a fair deal for your employees.”

Krislov noted that the 16 rooftop clubs have an agreement to share 17 percent of their revenues with the Cubs that generated up to $4 million in revenues for the team last year.

He’s seeking three years worth of gratuities for 55 employees who worked at the three rooftop clubs over the period in question.

Why put Emanuel in the middle of a wage dispute?

“There are agreements the city enters into with other companies, like when they outsource jobs. There are requirements that those contractors treat their employees fairly. The city ought to have the same concern for people who work for the rooftops,” he said.

“Rooftop businesses have always considered themselves entitled to some special deals or opportunities to view Cubs games. Before we give them special benefits that other people don’t get, we ought to make sure they treat their employees fairly.”

Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the rooftops, had no immediate comment on Krislov’s demand or on his allegation that the three clubs have been pocketing the 3 percent gratuity. The mayor’s office steered clear of the controversy.

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