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Taco Bell fires 64-Year-Old Grandmother Who Gave 30 Years of Service

By Chris V. Thangham     Nov 10, 2007 in Crime
She worked for the company for 30 years and was a manager. She even took a bullet during an attempted robbery at the Taco Bell. For all this contribution, she got rewarded a pink slip from Taco Bell.
Border Foods Inc, the company that owns Minnesota’s Taco Bell restaurants, fired Winnie Shilson, 64, after working 30 years for the company.
Shilson was fired Friday as manager of the Edina Taco Bell and dismissed her without severance pay or medical benefits.
Her husband Doug told the Star Tribune:"Not even a taco…They didn't give her a thing."
The company based their firing on her two recent failed performance reviews. They ordered her to fix problems ranging from building maintenance to food handling procedures.
Julie Pung, the human resources manager for Border Foods responded with:"People come first…In the best interest [of] our customers, we take great care in our people selection and make employment decisions, including terminations, very carefully. Beyond that, we do not disclose confidential employee information."
Shilson thinks she was cut because of cost-cutting measures. She reportedly earned a $45,000 base salary last year. She was distraught with her firing and she said she cried for three days.
"I was the most loyal, dedicated employee they could have. In 30 years, I never called in sick or was late to work. Not once! And I was good at my job. Damn good."
Shilson started at Zantigo (the restaurant before it became Taco Bell in 1977) at a salary of $2.85 an hour. Her husband didn’t like her job at first, but later she was able to buy a clothes washer and other items, so her husband changed his mind.
Since then, the woman rose rapidly through the ranks. She used to work 60 hours per week, and became general manager at the Richfield Taco Bell.
She was robbed at gunpoint twice, and was once shot by an impatient robber who fired at the safe and the bullet ricocheted off the safe. She had operations, but her knee still hurts. Shilson said Border Foods was very good to her at that time and paid her disability, but now they are different.
Shilson didn’t miss work much during her 30 year tenure but once she was involved in a serious car accident and had to take some days off because of it.
Reports indicate: Corporate cost-cutting has eliminated benefits and brought brutal pressure on many American workers, including fast-food restaurant managers.
Shilson was brought in to manage the Edina Taco Bell, at 66th Street and York Avenue S., one of the highest-volume Taco Bells in the area. It has sales more than $1.5 million a year. She got this job after she earned two top Taco Bell employee recognition awards.
She was rated “Superior” in a company performance review last spring, but her supervisor added personal comments that she needed improvement. She realized that she was being pushed out of the company.
They blamed her for minor things but because of cost cutting measures, she didn’t have enough human resources to do the job. So, they blamed her for it. And then they asked her to close at odd times in the night, even though they had promised her that she didn't have to work nights when she started the job. She declined to close. All these factored in and Shilson got fired.
According to reports:"The last year was very stressful on me," says the grandmother of six, who has lost more than 20 pounds. "I felt so harassed and there was so much put on me that I could hardly cope, and yet I did. I went in every day and smiled and hired people and trained them."
Two supervisors visited Taco Bell last Friday and told her she had failed to meet performance goals set in August, and so they fired her. She thought they would offer her another position, but they didn’t. She wanted to work at Taco Bell until the age of 70 to pay her health insurance bills.
Shilson called the unemployment office and told the clerk that she worked for Taco Bell for 30 years.
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