Why People Aren’t Working

As a veteran of close to 25 years in the commercial sector of the food service industry, I feel I have the background to speak of what it is like to deal with many aspects of that industry, both bad and good. A local restaurant owner, Troy Potter of The Beer Stein, was mentioned prominently there (EW 7/15). First, I wish to praise him on how well he treats his employees. He is exactly the type of  restaurant owner most employees in that sector would love to work with as he actually cares about their well being.

That said, Potter makes one comment in terms of what he can pay, saying he can’t compete with what folks are making with the current unemployment benefits when it comes to getting his establishment fully staffed again.

What Potter is saying is just another continuation of the trope that all too many are saying. Recent studies have shown  the same thing, over and over again, that the unemployment benefits are only a small portion of what’s keeping workers from returning to the industry. All these types of comments do is obscure how grueling, how low paying, and how abusive an industry food service all too often is. Until restaurant owners start accepting responsibility for their role in these often dehumanizing conditions they are going to keep struggling to get fully staffed, generous unemployment benefits. 

Neil S. Burton