Sunday, April 28, 2013

If you have ever eaten a meal in a restaurant or know someone who is a waitress or who works in the food service industry you should read the book Behind The Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman for many reasons. We all need to respect these workers more and for starters give them the best health care in America because these possibly sick people touching our food really need to be healthy. We are talking about 10 Million people in America who work in the restaurant industry,
Americans eat out more than any other people around the world. When I was young we ate home around the dinner table each night at 6:00 sharp and you made sure you were home for dinner. Now kids don’t even know where Mom or Dad is if they even know who they are forget about anyone being home for dinner with someone able to prepare it. So, now we pick up the kids and buy a bag of greasy stuff at a drive through and toss the bag in the back seat and may the quickest one eat the best who can grab the bag first.
If you are lucky I will take the tribe I created to a restaurant where we can feel like big shots and be as rude as we want to the waitress and throw things on the floor and send food back for whatever reason we want to and even ask for extra stuff because no where else will we get that kind of service and the staff will be courteous and tend to our every dining need because they desperately need our meager tip at the end of the meal.
Even in this greedy country where we try to get paid the most for doing the least amount of work we have ignored the needs of the restaurant workers who get paid the least amount of wages and who have little or no representation in our government. The minimum wage for tipped workers, that staff you were just so very rude to, is $2.13 per hour. That is compared to Chinese I Pod factory workers except this is not China and these people touch what we eat.
The author of this book is also the Co-Founder /C0-Director of a place called the Restaurant Opportunities Center. She points out that the tipped worker doesn’t even get the $2.13 per hour because your wages go entirely to taxes so you can literally get a pay check that says on the paper , This Is Not A Pay Check and there is a zero amount on the check. So they really live on their tips which is now suggested to be at 15 to 20 percent of your bill. Some restaurants calculate the amount into your bill at the end of your meal.
Sadly 70% of the workers are women with children that often work the overnight shift say at a 24 hour diner and don’t even make that much in tip money because customers are usually sleeping overnight. So, the rent doesn’t get paid and the kids are sick because she can’t afford the medicine and the emergency rooms are full, they are on welfare, food stamps and need emergency housing all of which cost the American taxpayer more money in providing emergency services that are badly needed by these poor families.
Food servers have three times the poverty rate as the rest of the work force. Perhaps if legislation would raise their minimum wage to a decent salary they could afford to pay their own bills and live a normal life. They use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the population in America. Who do we blame for this gross injustice to some of the hardest workers in America? Blame that nut job who just ran for President Herman Cain who was the head of the National Restaurant Association. Yes the other NRA.
This NRA is the tenth most powerful lobbying group in Congress and are the same people who named Pizza and catsup as a vegetable so our kids at the school lunches are getting crap to eat on their plates. Back in 1996 they struck a deal with Congress , democrats and republicans saying that they would not oppose the rise in minimum wage as long as the wage for tipped workers would stay frozen forever and here we are in 2013 and the wage is indeed frozen at $2,13 per hour. Yes, frozen for the last 22 years.
This wacky association has also fought against paid sick days for these workers. So, these workers as much as 90% of them are touching your food with hepatitis , H1N1 , typhoid fever all sorts of treatable diseases that could be gone if they had health care or even a sick day. They are too poor or too sick to take care of themselves. Is this the America we want?

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