Unions in Restaurants

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The push to unionize may just push the profits and the business out the door…

restaurant workers uniteI was approached a few days ago by a man in a black suit who knocked on my restaurant door at 4PM on a sunny weekday afternoon. At 4PM on any day that I am open for business, my team and I are knee deep in the weeds racing against the clock, the 5PM hour when our doors open for business. The neophyte at the door reminded me of one of the men in black complete with dark glasses and sporting a badge threaded through his belt. I reluctantly but politely opened the door. Before I could explain my plight at that time in the afternoon, he proceeded to introduce himself and ask me questions related to my position, what was my pay rate, was I receiving any benefits and so on and so forth. Looking down at my splattered t-shirt, checkered kitchen pants, and sneakers, I realized that he thought me to be a kitchen employee, not the executive chef and owner. My curiosity piqued, I went along with it and intently listened.

The man was a union organizer—a union organizer soliciting members in the tiny town of Central, in the upstate SC. Now, I am all for unions if there is a need for better working conditions, fairness, equal pay for performance, benefits, protection from dangerous situations, and so on. And, there once was a time when the only protection workers from unsafe or unfair working conditions had, was from their union, standing side by side with other workers.

Today’s unions do more harm than good. Today’s unions push wages beyond what is reasonable for employers. They instigate walk outs that shut down operations and result in lower productivity and less revenue, taking away pay for performance, ensuring that all workers are given the same compensation no matter what their skills, performance, attendance or productivity.

If the goal of today’s service union is to obtain higher wages and benefits for restaurant workers, it will certainly result in fewer jobs as they disappear along with the businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat in a weak economy, struggling to pay additional taxes and provide federally mandated benefits. If, on the other hand, it is for the safety and protection of workers, they are now protected by OSHA, the Equal Rights Amendment, state and federal wage laws and labor laws. And for those protections, there is no membership fee!

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630

Last modified: August 14, 2013
Angela Bell

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners