Excited to join this community. I am a laid off food-service worker (restaurant industry) and wanted to share the seedlings of a project a few of my fellow industry people and I are hoping to organize.
We are hoping to lay down the foundations for a coalition of laid off food-service workers, to translate fluidly into union organizing when (or if) we return to work. We believe that service industry workers in Vermont have worked without safety nets for far too long. With the onset of COVID-19 and the shutdown of local businesses, our lack of protection is clearer now than ever before. We aim to identify gaps within service industry safeguards, and create a unified coalition of food service workers, so that we can better leverage support for our common goals.
Our goals include:
- Racial, gender, sexual orientation, and age-related equity
A living wage, including:
Support of raising the tipped minimum wage
A concerted effort to bridge the wage disparity between various roles within each organization or business
A guaranteed livable nightly compensation for tipped employees
- Benefits, including a livable paid sick-leave policy, vacation leave, retirement benefits, healthcare, and paid family leave.
- Transparency of pay across management and colleagues
- Fair scheduling
We understand that in order to truly impact Vermont’s labor movement, we must approach our goals with an intersectional lens; by naming the ways in which various overlapping identities have been met with barriers surrounding higher wages, visibility, and equal protections within the Food, Beverage and Hospitality industries, we can work to dismantle those hurdles and the overall structures that promote and protect racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
We also are wondering the ways in which we could support and assist food systems workers as a whole right now. What are the current challenges you are experiencing? A few of us are skeptical that our given establishments will ever come back, and are wondering if there are any movements to create a massive redirect of the industries we come from (food/bev/hospitality) into agriculture, given the nature of this crisis and the looming challenges and opportunities for us around food security and VT agriculture as a whole.
I am curious to hear the immediate thoughts of this community, how we could connect our efforts to challenges or gaps that food systems workers are facing as a whole, if anyone is interested in union organizing across these industries, and how we can best balance our goals with the very small margins of small business owners across the state. This is really just an idea at the moment, so any insight or guidance is greatly appreciated.