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Policy: Labor

Left-wing restaurant employee rights activist group does not allow its own employees to strike

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,Restaurant Opportunities Center

One of the major voices in the Left's push to raise the minimum wage -- the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a nonprofit activist group that has organized protests and related events for higher pay and benefits at eateries across the nation -- explicitly forbids its own employees from striking or protesting.

In January, the center agreed on a new collective bargaining contract with the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia Local 38010, which has exclusive rights to represent the center's employees. The contract includes a "no strike" clause. It is posted on the union's website and can be viewed here.

The relevant section reads: "It is mutually agreed that there shall be no strikes, lock-outs, sit downs, sit ins, slowdowns,sympathy strikes,­ picketing, stoppage or interruption of work, or direct or indirect interference or interruption of the operations of the Employer during the term of this Agreement. The Guild shall use every reasonable effort to prevent the above actions by any of its employees employed by the Employer."

That's pretty broad language and would appear to prevent the employees not just from striking but from making any type of public protest should they have grievances with ROC United's management.

And it's ironic given that the organization claims to be dedicated to giving employees a voice, and organizes numerous events to advance this cause. The group is noted for its "in your face tactics," according to the New York Times:

The group enraged one of New York’s top chefs, Daniel Boulud, by demonstrating outside his Daniel restaurant with a 12-foot-tall inflatable cockroach, asserting that the restaurant’s Hispanic and Bangladeshi employees faced discrimination when they applied to become waiters. Her group reached a confidential settlement with Mr. Boulud. After a similar protest against Mario Batali’s Del Posto restaurant in Manhattan, he reached a settlement that called for paying $1.15 million over misappropriated tips and unpaid overtime and included new policies on promotions and paid sick days.

That type of activity would be forbidden by ROC United's contract with its own employees. A spokeswoman for the group did not respond to a request for contract.

ROC United is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group that has a nearly $3 million annual budget. It board of directors includes Paul Schwalb, deputy director of food services for UNITE HERE, a top service-industry union.

According to its website, Local 38010 represents ROC United employees in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Miami.

Hat tip: FloridaWatchdog.org

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