Buona bros arrested for battery against protesters

Brothers sprayed union protestors with water, slapped cell phone away

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Two of the owners of the Buona Beef restaurant chain, headquartered in Berwyn, were arrested on Monday, Aug. 14, and charged with battery over an altercation with union members protesting their business practices on a public sidewalk adjacent to the restaurant.

The incident occurred outside of the Buona Beef restaurant at 6745 W. Roosevelt Rd., where protesters with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 had erected a banner that read: "Shame on Buona Beef for using rat contractors."

Buona Beef also has a location at 7025 W. North Ave. in Oak Park.

According to the arresting documents from the Berwyn Police Department, Joseph J. Buonavolanto was charged with battery for slapping the cell phone out of the hand of a protester who was recording video of the incident.

Jim Buonavolanto was arrested and charged with two counts of battery for spraying the two protesters with a water hose.

Both were released on $1,000 bail.

A Buona Beef spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The video, which was later posted on the union's website, also shows the Buonavolantos hurling profanity at the two demonstrators. Joseph Bounavolanto calls the protesters "losers" and "scumbags" among other things, as Jim Buonavolanto knocks over the banner and sprays the two with water.

Joseph Buonavolanto also taunts the two demonstrators in the videos, saying, "If you worked hard, maybe you could have a shot at being f***ing successful in life, instead of being a f***ing thief."

James M. Sweeney, president-business manager of IUOE Local 150, wrote on the union's website: "This aggressive behavior is unacceptable. These protesters were exercising their free speech rights in an entirely peaceful manner, and local law enforcement immediately recognized the serious nature of the offenders' attacks and threats and responded appropriately."

Ed Maher, a spokesman for the union, said the two protesters were demonstrating against Buona's use of non-union contractors in construction of three new Buona restaurants.

He said it is the only protest the union has held against Buona, but they are planning more as a result of the reaction to the Monday protest.

"As you saw in the video it was unprovoked, unbridled aggression," Maher said.

Maher alleged the union has learned that Buona is paying its contractors about $15 to $20 an hour off the books and with no benefits.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Pam Swierczewski  

Posted: May 14th, 2018 7:53 PM

Last August they agreed to use union workers on their construction projects, but have reneged on that. NOW, they are not releasing final payment to contractors, both union and non-union for work completed on the Flossmoor location. In order to receive a final payout all contractors had to submit a "Final Waiver". Once that has been submitted, payment was supposed to be made. For contractors that finished work back in November or December, 10% of their money had to be held until the job was completed. Well the job is completed, the restaurant is open, and contractors are still unpaid!! Many attempts to contact Mark at Projx Construction remain unanswered. Diane Coates at the Greater Illinois Title Company which is handling the pay-outs states that they won't pay anyone until the last three contractors submit their final waivers. Our portion of the work was completed in December. We completed a few touch ups in January and have been waiting since February when the doors opened for business to be paid! I don't know how many contractors total are waiting, but it is every contractor that worked on the Buona Beef location on Vollmer Road in Flossmoor. For a business that already has a shaky reputation, you would think they would want to fix that by paying people the money they contractually agreed to.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: August 19th, 2017 9:57 AM

@BH. If I had set up a blockade of the parking access to a private business (which is essentially what they did. Although I acknowledge that it was on a sidewalk - which is also used as a path to the parking spots - and so their banner was affecting public safety and access to their business. Are you not familiar with this area?)....then I think I'd not be surprised if the business owner used crude language and knocked my arm away as I thrust my phone in his face, etc. I'll admit it, apparently unlike everyone in your social circle, I am imperfect and sometimes say/do things that I later regret (which are NOT criminal)......but what was done here was trivial and was to defend their business/livelihood/employees. FWIW, I know plenty of my OP neighbors who pay for their child-care/lawn care, etc. with cash (off the books). I guess that these people are not in your social circle and that you've never done something similar. Sorry, I live near Austin (the murder district of Chicago) and find calling this "unbridled aggression" (per Maher) to be, well, an exaggeration. A case of "sticks and stones (and bullets) will break my bones but names will never harm me."

Gretchen Withdougandgriffin Schmeckpeper  

Posted: August 19th, 2017 9:34 AM

I am beyond the fact that is was 150 Union Members, if Jim & Joseph were like this to these people (we are all people right?) what are they like to people in general? I bet if there was something they were against it would end up in a physical altercation every time. Peaceful protesters, they were not out there with loud speakers standing with mass amounts of people causing chaos. They were standing with written literature informing people of the business practices chosen by a company. Plain and simple.

Benjamin Hill  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 10:12 PM

How is this appropriate or acceptable language to use? "Joseph Bounavolanto calls the protesters "losers" and "scumbags" among other things, as Jim Buonavolanto knocks over the banner and sprays the two with water. Joseph Buonavolanto also taunts the two demonstrators in the videos, saying, "If you worked hard, maybe you could have a shot at being f***ing successful in life, instead of being a f***ing thief."" I guess as long as they aren't calling you or your family that it's ok? Or, don't worry, it's just name calling? Seems pretty unprofessional to me.

Martin A. Berg from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 11:15 AM

I too was puzzled by the objections to the headline; it states what happened perfectly. I actually arrived to eat lunch [perhaps for the last time, given my subsequent learning of the circumstances] with a friend at Buona minutes after the event, and we couldn't figure out what the issue was because we had approached the restaurant from the east and couldn't see the front of the sign but noticed the parking lot certainly was wet. As for Mr. O'Brien's objections about contractors, guess who gets to determine the conditions under which the contractors work? The answer is the company that hired them. So Buona DOES have control over this and is directly responsible. In any event, the brothers' physically violent reaction was inexcusable.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 11:11 AM

I live near Buona Beef and frequently eat there. I'm therefore quite familiar with the site. I've three times watched the video (link in article) and, language to the side, I did not think that the Buona brothers (who I have never met and I don't even know any one that knows them) didn't do anything wrong. Further, for those who know the site, you'd realize that the public sidewalk that the union organizers were setting up their "rat," etc. on is actually the semi-thruway to the Buona parking lot (it is a very cramped location) and thusly would be a safety and access issue to many people. I read thru the comments below and I noticed that no one mentioned the video. Am I missing something here?

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 9:27 AM

Just let Ed Maher write the article, oh wait, you did.

Barbara Joan  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 8:31 AM

" I have always wondered how left leaning folks can support illegal immigration and unions."--Socialists want it all ways to protect their own piles of $..Venezuela is just one example of how socialism fails.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 5:56 AM

What's misleading about the headline? The two individuals were in fact, according to a police report, charged with battery by Berwyn police.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: August 18th, 2017 12:35 AM

Ken....you make a valid point. I have always wondered how left leaning folks can support illegal immigration and unions. They are like oil and water. Personally, I do NOT think gov't employee unions are a good thing since they can legally bribe politicians who allegedly negotiate terms fo their contracts in our best interest, but private sector unions are a completely different story. They understand that if their employer goes away, so do their jobs. So they are forced to work with business to some extent. Unions get a bad rap, but private sectors and gov't sector are apples and oranges.

Mike Tomecek from Berwyn  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 11:11 PM

commenter above: 'There was a time and a place for them [unions], but not anymore. ' ---1) this attitude is one of the reasons this country is in a race to the bottom with the likes of India , Mexico , Asia and other 'emerging countries'. 2) There is here expressed the wrong headed conclusion that all unions are corrupt because some are corrupt and misses the bigger picture that the everyday working folk need some vehicle to band together to provide some counter weight to 'the owners' as George Carlin referred to this demographic cohort. These owners do not care about us, the regular 98 pct. If mere hard work were a real indicator of success, we'd have a more equitable distribution of economic benefits across society. Buona Beef now can hold hands w/ the that pizza operator who openly supported Romney and will pay the price of 'going political'. Like chutes and ladders, they will have less customers. http://www.rense.com/general82/carrlin.htm

Bronwyn Elizabeth Feller Soell  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 10:53 PM

Tim, I am usually a fan of your reporting, but in this case I found the headline of this story to be misleading and incendiary. With the violent events in Charlottesville so fresh in the news and everyone's minds, the implication is that our local Buona brothers were attacking protesters there. I am not condoning what did happen, but the headline is misleading in the context of current national events. It's just click bait. Honestly, I am disappointed- I thought you were more interested in the journalism than the cheap shots.

Bruce O'Brien  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 10:52 PM

The last line in the story reads, "Maher alleged the union has learned that Buona is paying its contractors about $15 to $20 an hour off the books and with no benefits." A "contractor" is a company which means that it is a not a statutory employee, but a business that is hired by other businesses or people to perform a task for a pre-arranged fee (i.e. in a "contract", hence the word "contractor"). There would not be any "benefits" paid, just the fee the two businesses agreed upon before the work was performed, so "off the books" means nothing since no taxes would be withheld by Buona. These union people ought to understand this because they are, or work for, contractors themselves being in the IUOE, the union that represents construction workers who operate heavy equipment and mechanics, surveyors and operating (a.k.a. stationary) engineers who work in buildings (your custodians or janitors). Also, if the story is to be fairly reported, it should also include whether or not the non-union contractor is also working for other businesses (because Buona could not be the only company that has hired this contractor) and if the union is protesting that contractor at his/her premises or those other job sites.

Ken Stucken  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 10:27 PM

Why use union labor when there are so many ill...er, undocumented immigrants who need work? Immigrants built this village and need to feed their families too. Why are unions and Oak Parker's so anti-immigration? I thought we had sanctuary status and minimum wage. Power to the people, right on!

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 8:32 PM

Well, this "idiot' won't be patronizing more than Buona Beef now. Good grief.

Laurie Beasley from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 7:26 PM

From here on out we are NOT eating at Buona Beef and urge others to do the same. Shame on Buona Beef. Laurie and Noel Beasley

Dawn Grizaffi Walsh from River Forest  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 6:59 PM

For all you brainwashed idiots out there, I was a third generation Women owned Union Contractor and was forced to close down my business and file bankruptcy because I wouldn't participate in (the boys club) the biggest bunch of crooks around. As the old timers will tell you "you better of always had plenty off "C-notes" in your pocket because you never knew when a Union BA was going to show up on your job site and expected that special handshake". Things haven't changed much. This is a Free country, isn't it? The Buona brothers have a right to choose whomever they want to use on there job sites. If the Unions weren't so crooked they would still be as strong as they were when my grandfather was a member. There was a time and a place for them, but not anymore. Instead of Unions waisting your time picketing, hard working successful people like the Buona Brothers, go do what your suppose to be doing, working! One day hopefully Illinois will become a right to work state. Why should a Union have the power to tell an individual that they always have to work Union and if there is no work available in your profession you need to find a new profession. I can go on and on and tell true stories of how crooked our beloved Chicago Unions are. I love Buona Beef and will continue to be a loyal customer!

Charlie Meyerson from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 5:11 PM


Michael P. Fiorino  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 5:10 PM

All too typical thuggish behavior from right-wing, right to work, greedy entrepreneurs who have little to no understanding of the big picture in our society. Is my father a thief for having been a member of Local 701 for his whole working life? It has provided him with a much needed pension. He's 95...what would he have done without it?Am I a thief for being a member of Local 10-208 for the last 43 years? Hardly...I see it as protection from unscrupulous characters such as these, who abound in all professions and situations. And, since these "gentlemen" share my ethnicity, I will say "shame on you." Italian-Americans were at the forefront of the labor movement in a better time, as well as being supporters of the New Deal and politics that could make such beneficial things happen in the first place.What happened to us, I wonder? I urge all my fellow readers to boycott these brutal characters.

Molly Sakellaris Clark from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: August 17th, 2017 5:09 PM

Thank you for reporting on this. I posted this on my own FB page and hope others will do the same. Just atrocious behavior. I have been a customer of theirs since they opened in Berwyn, but I will never return. EVER.

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