Could your restaurant unionize?
The pandemic has been a time of reckoning for restaurant employees – and, since labor is scarce, also a time of empowerment. Bit by bit across the country, more restaurant workers are taking steps to unionize, whether in an effort to improve the current working environment at their restaurant or to normalize and spread the employee-friendly culture they already experience at their restaurant. It’s a trend that industry analysts expect to continue. In the U.S., just 1.2 percent of the estimated 11.9 million people working in restaurants and foodservice belongs to a union, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes the industry one of the least unionized of any employment sector, despite its reputation – fairly or unfairly – for instability, low benefits and pay, and abuse from managers and guests. Many new efforts at unionization, such as those at Pavement Cooffeehouse in Boston, have been employee-led. In other cases, restaurant operators are going so far as to encourage the unionization of their business at the outset. In Rochester, N.Y., Meghesh Pansari, the owner of the Indian restaurant Nani’s Kitchen, encouraged his employees’ decision to unionize – perhaps because his restaurant already has an employee-friendly culture that he would like to serve as a model for other operators. Workers there share tips, make $15 an hour, get a week of paid sick leave annually, and the company covers half of the monthly payment for the health care package it offers full-time workers through the Healthy New York EPO plan, according to the Rochester City Newspaper. One shift leader said, “We had to unionize at Nani’s because we already had very good conditions, and we think that it’s important to kind of try to start pushing this and encouraging other restaurants to unionize.”
Comments are closed.
Subscribe to our newsletter