By SARU JAYARAMAN --This is a special Labor Day for the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC). 2011 is an incredible year – not only the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and the origins of our founding, but also the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. We see so many parallels in the incredibly labor movement built in the aftermath of that tragedy, and the restaurant worker movement we are trying to build in the aftermath of 9/11.
The past year has a seen dangerous, xenophobic rhetoric flood our national discourse. Such an atmosphere puts many of our brothers and sisters in the restaurant industry in harm’s way. Many have real fear for their safety, their families, and their place in this country. In the service industry, we cannot do our job to serve America when so many among us are shaken and targeted
What’s more, restaurants in the United States employ over 14 million workers. We are one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the nation. We continue to grow exponentially while confronted with the absolute worst labor shortage in recent memory. We need a robust pool of workers—immigrants and non-immigrants, and people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations—to remain a strong industry, and to ensure the dignity of all who work in restaurants.
The Sanctuary Restaurants Movement is a coalition of employers, employees, and patrons dedicated to ensuring a climate of inclusivity across the industry. Sanctuary Restaurants have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and hate of any kind at their establishments. Like us, they are committed to forging a restaurant industry where everyone has a seat at the table.