Monday, February 5, 2007

Restaurant Revolutionaries

As a state that trails only Hawaii in the percentage of workforce that's unionized, New York is no stranger to the darker side of organized labor. Last year's crippling transit worker strike is but the latest notable example.

In a piece that ran in Sunday's Post, I describe the latest organization to turn the city's private-sector economy into its personal plaything. Using rather unconventional means, the Restaurant Opportunity Center-New York aims to remake the city's restaurant industry into something more to the liking of Karl Marx, all the while masquerading as a charity:

ROC chief Jayaraman, a Yale/Harvard-trained lawyer, says her goal is to organize "the 99 percent of the [restaurant] industry that's non-union." Yet her group hasn't unionized anything - not even its own eatery.

Soon after Colors opened, its employees (who had invested money in what they believed was a cooperative enterprise) revolted, upset that ROC management was pocketing 40 percent of the earnings and giving seed investors another 40 percent, leaving just 20 percent to the staff.

How could a pro-labor group open a non-union shop? Well, ROC isn't a union - it's a charity.

Indeed, founded after 9/11 as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt charity, ROC's official goal was to help dislocated workers from Windows on the World, the eatery that used to top the World Trade Center.

That worthy aim drew in $500,000 in start-up cash from Unite HERE Local 100, which represents hotel and restaurant workers. The Red Cross and the September 11th Fund also donated.

Based on what ROC's "help" turned out to be, they should ask for their money back.

Read the rest.

Update: Over at the Democracy Project, Phil Orenstein offers these thoughtful suggestions as to how to deal with ROC:

But we can and will fight back. One way is to dine and tip generously at the besieged Cite and Park Avenue CafĂ© and other restaurants targeted by NYU professor/activists and their disciples. Another way to end the political indoctrination in the classroom is to cut off funding to NYU. Most of NYU’s support comes from endowments, grants and donations from alumni. A small percentage comes from tuition. All alumni should call up and pledge not to donate another cent to NYU as long as such radical professors are indoctrinating and recruiting students in the classroom. As long as professor Saru Jayaraman is teaching students to fight for social justice in order to end capitalism in the restaurant industry, all alumni and donors should tell the president that they will withhold contributions until that professor is discharged and an academic environment is restored at NYU.

Another way is to lobby our state lawmakers to get them involved when we observe such professors using the classroom for their pet political causes. We should call our representatives and let them know that the abuses of higher education are a troubling phenomenon.

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