Dining out with a conscience in San Francisco

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 01 2010 02:09 PM | Updated as of May 01 2010 10:09 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, California - A new study conducted by a San Francisco advocacy group shows that most restaurant workers in the San Francisco Bay Area lost their benefits after the economic crisis cut into business profits.

The Young Worker’s Union conducted a survey of hundreds of restaurant workers last year. Seventy percent said they do not get paid sick leaves. Thirty-nine percent say their employers do not provide health care coverage. Seventy percent of the respondents are part-time workers.

“The majority of the restaurants that we surveyed failed. We interviewed workers at 32 restaurants, only 9 passed,” said Peter Bergman, spokesman on the Young Worker’s Union.

To encourage restaurants to treat their workers better, the Young Worker’s Union published a unique dining guide that encourages socially responsible dining choices. “Dining with Justice” lists San Francisco bakery Arizmendi as the most worker-friendly establishment.

Victor Hernandez has been a worker at Arizmendi Bakery, which operates as a cooperative, for three years. Arizmendi’s workers are considered part-owners.

“I don’t have a boss.  We work together. We try to help each other with the business so we have a vested personal, as well as personal interest in it,” he said. Hernandez says their workers make about $20 an hour, twice the average wage of restaurant workers in the Bay Area.

Hernandez says there’s none of the usual labor complaints at his workplace. “If the workers are happy, and they feel empowered, they’ll probably work harder.  You won’t have to ask them to do things. They’ll be self-motivated,” he explains. Balitang America