APALA Members Join in Solidarity with Restaurant Workers

Photo credit: ROC-DC

APALA members joined a packed room at Eatonville Restaurant yesterday as the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United) released its “Diners’ Guide 2012,” a booklet rating 150 of the most popular restaurants in the United States on a variety of workplace standards. Criteria include the restaurant’s high-road practices, the extent workers are tipped and non-tipped wages and access to paid sick leave and advancement opportunities.

The event was hosted by ROC-DC and brought together a panel of industry workers, high-road employers and consumers to talk about the importance of being an informed diner and supporting establishments that prioritize workers’ rights. ROC-DC leaders also spoke briefly about their new campaign against a well-known Washington, D.C., fine dining restaurant, Capital Grille, for various discrimination and wage theft allegations brought to their attention by former servers and current staff.

According to “Behind the Kitchen Door,” a report released by ROC-United last year, workers of color generally report lower median wages and higher employment law violations and lack of access to benefits than their white counterparts. They also face more barriers to promotions.

“Discrimination is incredibly rampant in this industry and this is why it’s important for us to work with organizations like APALA”, said Woong Chang, a ROC-DC member.

The playing field is incredibly skewed for people of color, and the Asian American community is especially vulnerable to this abuse when factors such as language barriers and immigration status come into play.

Chang was among workers who testified at the APALA-DC Workers’ Rights Hearing held last May. More details on ROC-DC’s ongoing campaigns will be discussed at APALA-DC’s upcoming karaoke fundraiser on Dec. 15. Copies of the 2012 Diners’ Guide will be distributed as well.

*Also posted on the AFL-CIO website

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