The Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC is a local worker center dedicated to building power with restaurant workers in order to improve wages and working conditions, so we can create a restaurant industry that is just and equitable. We are a membership based and led organization. The following demands were developed by a group of restaurant workers who have been impacted by the effects of COVID-19. As restaurant workers who will be at the frontlines of any reopening efforts, we know that having worker voices in these conversations is crucial in ensuring future policies will be just and equitable. Our demands are as follows:
Above everything else, our lives come first. We demand that the Mayor and the Council put the wellness and livelihood of frontline workers at the forefront of all policy, especially plans to reopen. Workers are not disposable, and our lives are worth more than business and corporate profits.
No matter when we reopen, there will continue to be thousands of restaurant workers who will remain unemployed during the coming months. We should be prepared to continue to provide benefits to unemployed workers and expand our current benefits to workers who have been formally excluded.
Restaurant workers occupy some of the lowest paid positions even during the time when our industry was growing and thriving. Restaurant workers deserve to be treated as professionals and be paid professional wages. Hazard pay must be guaranteed for any worker asked to return to work before the risk of COVID-19 is eliminated, and moving forward, we must not revert back to poverty wage structures once restaurants begin to reopen and people return back to work.
Before considering when restaurants and food retailers can reopen on a limited capacity, city health officials should consider the most conservative virus projections which include the probability that:
The Pandemic is a grave health and economic crisis for the District, the US and the world, but it also offers a historically unique opportunity for us to envision a better District, nation and world as we rebuild.