URBN, the parent company of such retailers as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People, is facing a tidal wave of Internet criticism over a leaked email sent to employees. Once you read it, you'll understand why. On Tuesday afternoon, salaried workers of URBN's home office in Philadelphia found this chestnut in their email inboxes:
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2015 12:01 PM
Subject: A Call For URBN Volunteers!
A Call for URBN Volunteers!
URBN is seeking weekend volunteers to help out at our fulfillment center in Gap, PA. October will be the busiest month yet for the center, and we need additional helping hands to ensure the timely shipment of orders. As a volunteer, you will work side by side with your GFC colleagues to help pick, pack and ship orders for our wholesale and direct customers.
In addition to servicing the needs of our customers, it’s a great way to experience our fulfillment operations first hand. Get your co-workers together for a team building activity!
Who: Home Office URBN salaried employees
Where: URBN’s Fulfilment Center - 766 Brackbill Road, Gap, Pennsylvania 17527
What You’ll Be Doing: Pick, pack and prepare packages for shipment(please wear sneakers and comfortable clothing)
When: October 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31 Lunch will be provided
Two shifts each day: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM or 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
(you can volunteer for one or multiple days)
Transportation: If needed, URBN will provide transportation to and from GFC (details provided after sign up)
How: Sign up using this link and we will be in touch with more details. Please do not show up without signing up.
If you read between the cheerily worded lines of this email, it's very easy to see what's going on. URBN is asking their full-time, salaried employees to do hourly work on their weekends off for the rate of $0/hour. And not fun work like planning an office party or goofing off on Facebook, but manual labor like packing and shipping boxes. Of course, there's nothing wrong with doing manual labor, as long as you're being adequately compensated. If you're not, there's something very wrong with it.
Of course, the work isn't mandatory. And URBN volunteered to provide free lunch and transportation for any volunteers, which should be a sufficient reward for giving up your hard-earned weekends. What's more, it's a valuable team-building exercise! Imagine what an effective team you and your co-workers would be after not leaving each other's company except to sleep for 14 days.
After the story leaked to the news, URBN released a statement. As Gawker reports, the company's approach was to double down on insulting everyone's intelligence.
After successfully opening our new fulfillment center in June, we asked salaried employees at our home office to volunteer for shifts that would help support the new center through a busy month of October. Unsurprisingly, we received a tremendous response, including many of our senior management. Many hourly employees also offered to pitch in – an offer which we appreciated, but declined in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations. The dedication and commitment of URBN employees are second to none, and their response to this request is a testament to their solidarity and continued success.
You see! Everyone loves working for free! Even hourly employees! If URBN had any chance of convincing people with this B.S., they lost it with that claim. If there's one thing hourly freight employees will never do, it's work for free.