What is a union? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions”. I believe that workers in the restaurant industry should start forming unions in each state. The wage for a server has not increased since the beginning of time, not really the beginning, but servers have made $2.12 per hour plus tips for at least the last 50 years. Some people don’t tip so on occasions like that the server really did make two dollars and twelve cents that hour because most tables, even two tops, usually stay for an hour. Most workers in the fast food industry generally make minimum wage which is only $7.25 an hour, so if you go in places like Moe’s and you see a tip jar (gas jar) take into consideration that the whole crew splits the jar at the end of the night. Keep in mind that those people just prepared your food and that they are even willing to do a job like that, at a pay that low just so that you may have the convenience of dining out instead of preparing your own food at home. They make sure that the environment that you are eating in is clean and sanitary as well as give you good customer service. Even if they work 40 hours a week, that’s only $1160 per month, so the tip jar really is gas to get them to work because after paying rent they can’t afford gas! By starting a union the workers can unite to increase wages. Yes, Obama is trying to get minimum wage increased but it has not happened yet. And yes, there are days when a server can go home with $300 in their pocket but there are far more days when they go home with $20. There are days when you go into work and at the end of the day you don’t make any money because the manager made a trade-off (which basically means the people got free food because they did something for the restaurant like free advertising). What I don’t get is, the customer knows they are getting free food but they don’t think about who is leaving the tip. The worst part is the manager doesn’t compensate the employee/s either.
Not only will forming unions help increase wages but it can also help employees gain benefits. Most restaurants do not even offer employees benefits like health, dental, or vacation time. It’s not because they don’t have it but because they don’t want to do the paper work. If a server or host is willing to stay at the same restaurant for more than a year then they deserve some kind of benefits. This industry has one of the highest turn over rates that dedicated people should be rewarded just as they are in any other industry. Managers in the fast food industry make it impossible for you to get benefits with tricks like scheduling an employee 20 to 25 hours a week (at least twice a month) which is part-time so they don’t have to offer you benefits. In the restaurant industry they schedule you 30 hours but send you home two hours early everyday because “it’s slow”. How can an employer want you to bring in a doctor’s note when you are sick but not offer you health care benefits or give you enough hours to afford personal health insurance? Color me puzzled.
Forming unions has worked to increase wages, benefits, and even overall respect for employees in other industries so I am confident that it will work for the employees in the restaurant industry. If you live in a state that has a restaurant union spread the word, if live in a state that not do the research and take that first step to form your own union. Whether you are part-time, just working in the restaurant while you finish school, or full-time you deserve respect, benefits, and fair wages.