GGRA Working with ROC?

There’s a classic saying that politics makes strange bedfellows, which means that sometimes people who may be seem to be opponents, can end up working together on unexpected issues of mutual interest. Some of you are familiar with Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC), and may think of them as an organization critical of the restaurant industry, because ROC has been quite vocal about the challenges they see in the restaurant industry and has gone after some high profile restaurateurs.

Despite ROC’s high profile criticism of the industry, they have forged relationships with industry leaders to support restaurants that take the high road in how they operate — in particular providing good wages, health care, paid sick leave, etc. — and work to educate consumers to support these restaurants. Since San Francisco already mandates these things, by default, we’re all high road employers. But ROC works with restaurants around the country who are interested in creating a new standard by supporting one minimum wage among other employee friendly practices, and have a membership of restaurants known as RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment). Members of RAISE include high profile restaurateurs including Tom Colicchio and Danny Meyer. One of the strengths in ROC’s work with RAISE restaurants is working to educate consumers that higher wages and benefits do mean that restaurants that adhere to these standards are going to be more expensive.

While the lack of tip credit in California has been an ongoing local frustration, and ROC does not support tip credit, they are supportive of tip sharing in states where there is no tip credit. They share the same goal of seeing back of the house workers being better compensated. For GGRA, ROC is a potentially powerful ally that carries sway with the labor unions and politicians, whom have not been supportive of tip sharing. GGRA had been attempting to work with members of our California legislative delegation to pursue a tip sharing bill, but fear of union reaction has stalled movement. The recent Ninth Circuit ruling related to tip sharing in non-credit states has been a setback, but by working with ROC, we may be able to work directly with the US Department of Labor to make tip sharing across the restaurant legal.

Additionally, ROC has access to a large pool of restaurant workers and has job training classes entitled CHOW (COLORS Hospitality & Opportunity for Workers) that will begin in July operating out of Oakland restaurant, Kingston 11. Here, our work with ROC focuses on both support of programs that provide industry training to communities whose residents face barriers to employment and to address the widespread staffing challenges experienced by everyone in the industry today.

Ultimately, in politics you have to forge partnerships with unlikely allies on issues to achieve desired outcomes. If you have any questions about GGRA’s work with ROC, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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