The mission of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.
We are over 30,000 people who work in restaurants, over 800 high-road employers, and thousands of engaged consumers united for raising restaurant industry standards.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York was initially founded in New York City by Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman after September 11th, 2001 to provide support to people who work in restaurants who were displaced as a result of the World Trade Center tragedy. Based on our successful efforts in New York City, many who worked in restaurants in several other cities approached ROC about initiating chapters in their cities. Thus, in 2008 we launched the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has grown into a national organization with over 25,000 members who work in restaurants nationwide.
Since its founding, ROC United has won more than a dozen workplace justice campaigns, winning more than $10 million in misappropriated tips and wages and discrimination payments for people who work in restaurants, and significant policy changes in high-profile restaurant companies covering thousands of people. We have played an instrumental role in winning statewide minimum wage increases for those who work for tips in restaurants, and other policy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. ROC also partners with over 300 responsible restaurant owners to promote the ‘high road’ to profitability, has trained more than 5,000 people to advance to livable-wage jobs within the industry, and has published over 30 ground-breaking reports and a nationally bestselling book on the restaurant industry.
CO-DIRECTORS & CO-FOUNDERS
French teacher in his native Africa, Sekou Siby is a founding member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York ROCNY, nonprofit workers’ center that organizes restaurant workers for improved working conditions in the NYC restaurant industry.
A former cook at Windows on the World, atop the World Trade Center, Siby joined the ROC-NY staff in 2003 as a Community Organizer. While in this position, he spearheaded at least four campaigns, bringing hundreds of workers to victory against their employers. He has been one of the Co-Executive Directors of ROCNY from January 2008 to May 2012.
Siby Joined ROC-United in June 2012 and holding the position of Deputy Director. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Phoenix and is the Executive Director of ROC-UNITED since September 2017.
President of ROC United & ROC Action (based in Oakland, California), co-founded ROC in New York after 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, which has organized those who work in restaurants to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants.
Fekkak Mamdouh came to the United States from Morocco in 1988 at the age of 27. He worked in New York City restaurants since he arrived, and finally moved to Windows on the World when it reopened in 1996. As a waiter at Windows, Mamdouh was always a staunch worker advocate.
ROC United Board of Directors
(affiliations listed for purposes of identification)