En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Metro
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Food Workers Want Fair Deal

CITY
HALL. Whether serving foie gras or delivering noodles, restaurant industry
workers endure rampant labor violations, such as not getting paid minimum wage
or overtime, industry leaders say.

“Restaurants
don’t even hide it,” said waiter Jody Deyo, 36. “They know they have 100 people
who would line up for your job.”

Deyo says
he has seen violations ranging from not being paid a “training wage” to
management dipping into the tip jar.

Restaurant
workers came to a hearing held yesterday to support a bill recently introduced
in City Council that would provide them a tool to fight back. Called the
“Responsible Restaurant Act,”
** the legislation would require restaurant owners to report
employment law violations to the city Health Department, which would have to
publish reports of labor violations — in addition to the health code
violations.

The
nonprofit Urban Justice Center
interviewed 530 restaurant workers for a 2005 report and found 59 percent claimed
to have experienced wage violations.

“It’s
harder and harder to do, especially because a lot of high-profile restaurants
do it illegally,” said Rosanne Martino, general manager at the high-end West Village
eatery One If By Land, Two If By Sea.

While the
bill has the support of 25 City Council members (and from groups which
represents wokers) the Health Department is staunchly opposed (as is the
Restaurant Association of New York,
which represents restaurant owners).

The Heath
Department’s “expertise is in health and safety, not in … labor issues,” said
deputy commissioner Jessica Leighton.

• $1,221:
Amount New Yorkers spend per capita on food outside the home, according to the
National Restaurant Association.

• 22,000:
Number of restaurants in the city, and at least 200,000 workers are employed by
the food service establishments.

**Make the Road New York has worked on this
legislation