Stuttgart barber contests revising contract
STUTTGART, Germany — Somebody screwed up.
“This is not my problem,” replied Giuseppe Muré.
Muré, who for 21 years has worked as a barber in the Stuttgart military community, is clinging to the terms of his contract with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. That contract, AAFES claims, has caused Muré to be overpaid by about 750 euros per month since April 2005.
That’s about 15,000 euros.
AAFES — which operates businesses and oversees vendors at U.S. military installations — is not asking Muré to pay back any money. It just wants Muré to start operating under the terms of what it says the contract should have read in the first place.
In other words, take a 750-euro per month pay cut.
Muré, who operates a one-man barber shop at Kelley Barracks, said a deal is a deal: His contract runs through April 2010.
“I have a five-year contract,” the 63-year-old Sicilian said. “I will work for my five-year contract. When you (AAFES) no more like my face, then you can pay (the remainder of) my contract and I say goodbye.”
In April 2005, Muré was notified that he would start paying 39.73 percent of his sales to AAFES as a concessionaire fee.
He had been paying 10 percent. The euro-to-dollar rate used to compute his paycheck would also be changed so that Muré would not lose any money, the notification said.
But in the contract he signed, the concessionaire fee was not changed — only the euro-to-dollar rate was changed — and Muré has been operating ever since under the errantly favorable terms.
Not that he is swimming in cash.
Muré takes home 1,700 to 2,400 euro ($2,570 to $3,630) per month, according to pay receipts he provided to Stars and Stripes. But his take-home pay is about $880 per month more than his monthly sales at the barber shop, according to AAFES spokesman Lt. Col. David Konop.
“This situation is no fault of Mr. Muré,” Konop wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “He provides an excellent, necessary service to us, and the sales from this service average around $2,000 a month. But it also doesn’t make any sense for AAFES to pay more for a service than it gets back, as it has been doing for some time.”
Business has been slow at Kelley Barracks.
Muré said he used to give 60 or more haircuts a day at Kelley and other installations in Stuttgart. On Monday, he gave 18 haircuts.
But he hopes business will pick up as the new Africa Command adds staff and as servicemembers and families start moving into the vacant, under-renovation housing at Kelley.
“I like to work,” Muré said. “I like to finish my contract here.”
Last February, Muré received another letter from AAFES saying his contract would be changed to reflect the 39.73 percent fee. He wrote back to the AAFES contracting manager in Dallas, saying he would not accept the change.
In July and August, without telling Muré, AAFES took 39.73 percent of Muré’s sales, and his paychecks plummeted.
“I cannot see the AAFES computer, so I do not know who did it,” Muré said. He objected and was later reimbursed for lost pay.
On Nov. 15, he received another letter from AAFES stating that in February it would start taking 39.73 percent of his sales and that it didn’t need his signature to do so.
Konop acknowledged that Muré has recourse, such as appealing through his local German works council. Muré said he is ready to phone a lawyer.
“I will give AAFES one week to change things,” Muré said. “If they do not change, I will go to (German labor) court.”