Yesterday, the Department of Labor unveiled some new policies that are going to have a negative impact on those working in an already struggling restaurant industry. Here’s what you need to know.
The Trump administration pushed for this claiming that it was for “Equality” but what it really does is raise the wages of the lowest-paid workers by taking from the second-lowest paid. In other words, it’s allowing owners to take more tips from servers and bartenders to pay cooks and dishwashers. It also removes certain protections that the front of the house has long had such as the 80/20 rule that prevents them from spending more than 20% of their time doing non-tipped work such as cleaning.
It’s 148 pages and a breaking story
I will be updating this as I’m able to get more information but for now, this is a perfect example to two things. First of all, stop saying that politics don’t belong in the Kitchen because guess what, politics is now playing with your money. It’s also a prime example of how politicians and those in power have these great ideas that sound super duper on paper but in reality, fuck over the very people they’re trying to help.
No, I don’t support this.
While I have long been an advocate for fair pay and tip share, I don’t like the way this is being put in place at all. It’s going to hurt the front of the house and increase tensions and not solve anything at all. Actual wages aren’t going to go up and nothing is being done about the real problem. I have no doubt that some shady business owners are going to exploit the policy to continue to take advantage of their staff.
So what needs to be done?
I can’t bitch about the problem unless I have some ideas on how to fix it right? First off, and I’m not holding my breath on this is but people, in general, need to settle the fuck down, stop going out for a bit, wash their hands, wear and God damn mask and get this pandemic under control. Meanwhile, we (you reading this, yes you motherfucker!) need to get off your ass and type into your search bar “State of “your state” reps”, call and email them and demand as a voter that they do their job and help out small indie places. Trust me, enough pissed off, out of work Chefs and Bartenders calling, they’re going to take action if enough of us act.
In regards to wages, the concept of minimum wage is a joke. When it was first passed into law it was meant to cover the ass of the working class and ensure prosperity. To put it simply, the cost of living, hell even just existing as person, has risen drastically faster then the wage itself. In fact, it peaked in 1968 but since then has failed in it’s purpose. We need to address this issue but at the same time, we also need to take into account how it’s going to impact small business which is the very life blood of the industry. We have to figure out a policy that would allow these places to thrive while making it financially profitable to pay a living wage to their staff.
The next thing is that the overall business model is going to change.
One thing that I know for a fact is going to happen as a result of this pandemic is that the very concept of the industry is going to be drastically altered. It breaks my heart to see places that have been around in decades shut down, it’s like watching a forest fire but I also know what comes after the fire. The ashes and whats left provides a healthy foundation and starting points for new life and business to grow and thrive. I personally think that we’re going to see a lot less sole ownership based business and a lot more coops where the staff is working together as a team and has an invested interest in the success of the place.
Either way, we’re in for a rough ride over the next few months but I’m oddly optimistic that by spring, if we work together on this, we’ll be able to be back doing what we love to do. We, the industry, my brothers and sisters both back and front of the house are some of fiercest on earth and if we’re going to survive this shitstorm, we’ve got to work together. Happy holidays, take 10 minutes to contact your reps and demand action. Can I get a fucking “Oui Chef!”?
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