ROC Pennsylvania, AG Josh Shapiro Speak With Restaurant Workers, Announce New Partnership to Combat Drug Abuse

September 20, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pennsylvania (ROC PA) and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro held an information session today with restaurant workers who are struggling with substance use disorder. 

AG Shapiro also announced a new partnership with ROC PA, featuring a collaborative website that serves as a platform for restaurant workers to create and share their stories of substance use and recovery. The website includes an interactive state map with county-specific substance abuse resources. 

“Pennsylvanians struggling with addiction need to know that help is available, and they don’t have to be afraid to reach out,” said AG Josh Shapiro. “Through this partnership we’re going directly to Pennsylvanians who are at risk of suffering from substance abuse with solutions — and asking friends, coworkers, and employers to steer people to the help they need. We’ll work with everyone to stop addiction before it starts and to get treatment for those at risk.”

Focusing primarily on ways to engage and provide restaurant workers and their families with the support that they need, including treatment options, the information session allowed AG Shapiro to speak directly with restaurant workers about the addictive nature of opiates and other powerful drugs, as well as give them an opportunity to share their stories—one way of connecting them with health experts and inspiring others who may be struggling with substance abuse. 

“Substance abuse affects many restaurant workers in Philadelphia. While this may be sensitive and personal for many of us, it is a very important issue to talk about,” said Sam Jones, director of ROC Pennsylvania. “The situation has been exacerbated when restaurant workers are earning lower than minimum wage and don’t have paid leave and proper health care to protect them and their families.”

Substance abuse disorder affects restaurant workers. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found the highest rate of substance use among workers in the accommodation and food services industry, as compared to other industries. 

“Over the last few years, we have been fortunate to have an attorney general who has made his mission to protect the interests and needs of hardworking people,” said Aliyyah Miller, a restaurant worker. “With AG Shapiro’s help and leadership, we were able to guarantee that tips belong to servers and restaurant employees working directly with customers. He has prosecuted numerous bad employers for wage theft, securing substantial amounts of money for impacted restaurant workers.”

Substance abuse by restaurant workers can cause many problems for both the workers and businesses, including lost productivity, injuries in the workplace, and/or lost livelihood and lives. The loss to businesses in the United States due to substance abuse by employees totals $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. 

In Pennsylvania alone, 65 percent of drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018, or a total of 2,866 fatalities.