This morning I had the pleasure of having Saru Jayaraman on my show, talking about her new book, Behind the Kitchen Door. I’m sure when she graduated from Yale Law School, she had no idea that she would be a leader in an organization fighting for the rights of restaurant workers, or that this mission would take over her life, but since 9/11, that is exactly what happened. Saru started an organization called The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, (ROC) which came about after hundreds of restaurant workers from Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, lost their jobs. After starting ROC , Saru’s real education started. She learned about all of the unfair practices that take place in the food business, starting with farm workers, meat packers and restaurant employees. 40% of all restaurant workers are undocumented immigrants, and that sets the stage for inequality in the work place and exploitation of their rights. Combine that with the powerful National Restaurant Association, who lobbied to freeze the minimum wage for restaurant workers who receive tips to $2.13 for the past 22 years, we are left with a system that promotes poverty and raises concerns for all of our health. Since most of these workers do not receive any benefits, like health care or paid sick days, we have set up a system that requires an employee to go to work, even when they are sick, out of fear of losing their job or losing a days pay.
I could go on and on, but I won’t! Instead, you should have a listen to my interview with Saru here, or go and buy her book, Behind the Kitchen Door! It is all of our responsibility to know the truth and to take action!!
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