The restaurant industry is dependent on the work of immigrants. “Everybody, everybody in the restaurant industry employs undocumented workers,” Jayaraman says. The most difficult restaurant jobs, such as dishwasher or fry cook, are usually filled by word-of-mouth references from other restaurant owners and the trusted kitchen staff, also a natural way of communicating in the immigrant community.” In Fawn Johnson’s piece for The National Journal, “What Undocumented Workers Really Want,” she finds that restaurant employers with opposing political views share a passion for meaningful immigration reform. Johnson interviews Brad Bailey, a Texas restarateur and city-council member. Brad is politically conservative, whereas Andy Shallal of Busboys & Poets is a vocal liberal. Andy is one of ROC’s Restaurant Employer Partners, starts his employees at $10.25/hr, and is part of the national movement to increase the tipped and full minimum wage. As Saru Jayaraman and ROC illustrate in Johnson’s piece, the restaurant workforce is predominantly an immigrant workforce, which means that “the liberal and the conservative restaurateurs agree the immigration system is thoroughly messed up. They [Shallal and Bailey] complain that immigration laws do nothing but hurt business, particularly food service. They both think immigrants contribute to the economy rather than leech from it. They both passionately want legalization for the undocumented population.” The article discusses both Brad and Andy’s experiences with immigration through the lens of the restaurant industry (the fastest growing workforce in the US) and how both men are taking steps to advance immigration reform, to receptive and reluctant audiences.
Read the full article here.