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Mondays Off: Working in Bars & Restaurants
77 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Ep. 15: A 'Ronaversary, w/Bennett from Tattersall - and The Dish!!
It's been a YEAR folks. For me, a year to the day since I went in to work a shift and found out we were closing. We had NO IDEA what was coming. But this episode isn't about that. Because I'm stoked to announce the launch of The Dish!!! A newsletter for workers in the service industry - brought to you by humble volunteer editors such as myself (if there's a typo, you can just assume it's my fault, that's fair). The Dish (which you can follow on Twitter) is brought to you by the Restaurant Organizing Project. It just seemed to make sense to have a publication to act as a hub for discussions about industry organizing. Open to anyone in our industry, submission guidelines are on the website - we are eager to hear from you!But this episode isn't about THAT either! What?Bennett Johnson, lead bartender at Tattersall Distillery in Minneapolis wrote a piece for the inaugural issue of The Dish about the union drive that led to Tattersall becoming the first unionized craft distillery in the country (WOOT!). And he was generous enough to sit down and talk about that experience, expanding on his written piece. If you want to read more about Tattersall, you can check out some of these links:Jacobin Magazine: “Bosses Can’t Be Anti-Racist, Their Job Is to Exploit People”Workday Minnesota: "Tattersall Workers Make History With Union Vote"Minnesota Reformer: "Is Tattersall workers’ push for a union the start of a trend at Twin Cities bars, restaurants?"
77 minutes | Feb 25, 2021
Ep. 14: Thoughts on the Eve of the Covidaversary
Just a little bi-coastal chat this week, catching up on some news from the past weeks, and checking in on legislative relief efforts for the bar and restaurant industry. As NYC increases capacity for indoor dining, and nightclubs turn restaurant to get by, the city's outdoor dining sprawl is getting people riled, which isn't too surprising. We never got a chance to talk about those superbowl ads earlier - the Cointreau/IRC one which invokes an almost painful nostalgia, and the Doordash/Sesame Street charity ad now notorious for spending over $5M to publicize a $1M donation. Argh. Have we mentioned the terrible conditions for Doordash (and other) delivery drivers?The Biden administration is making sounds about ramping up efforts against wage theft and labor violations because of the pandemic (some state AGs are following suit - at least they're saying they are). Which reminds me: wage theft - which has always been rampant in the service industry - was in the news recently of course as Amazon was fined almost $62M for paying Flex drivers' base wages with tips. Which sounds an awful lot like what restaurants with submin wage do, legally, all the time. Last but NOT least - the Restaurants Act has morphed into a much smaller project as a part of the latest relief bill. We'll talk about how it's changed (shout out to Barb Leung for this good break down). Also, the second round of PPP appears to be somewhat less terrible at helping the restaurant industry, yay.Shout out to groups to support in Texas: Austin Mutual Aid, Feed the People Dallas, Funky Town Fridge, and here's the Filipino-American agenda that Tiffany mentioned.
73 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Ep. 13: It's a Union Drive! w/Kait Dessoffy of Collectivo Coffee.
What's up with midwestern coffee shops these days? They've got the union bug it seems! This episode is a discussion with Kait Dessofy, barista, dancer and volunteer organizer at Collectivo Coffee - a chain mostly located among Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. Collectivo workers are in the midst of a union drive - and you should definitely follow them on Instagram to follow their efforts, gets tips on navigating this territory from the perspective of folks (mostly) doing this for the first time, and hear about the support they've garnered from their community. They've even put together a sweet playlist called Unity=Union on Spotify. Kait sat down with me (virtually of course) and shared their thoughts and experiences as workers responded to covid conditions with a decision to unionize - with the help of the IBEW. We talk about what "company culture" means, how their employers seem to misunderstand or mischaracterize union affiliation as "bringing in a third party", and how workers have responded to union-busting law firms and captive audience meetings. As with most service industry jobs, cafe workers have to battle a perception that they're a "transient" workforce - that these jobs aren't "meant to be careers" and therefore aren't appropriate places to unionize. After Kait and I first spoke, there were some layoffs and the "Collectivans" are fundraising for their colleagues who are out of work right now, throw them some cash if you can or buy a "Collectivo Means Collective" tshirt - cuz the irony of the name does seem to have escaped some folks, lol.
59 minutes | Feb 13, 2021
Ep. 12: Tipping, Part 2: Navigating Subminimum Wage Flame Wars, er, Debates.
Part Two of a discussion with Adam Barr and Maria Moreno of Restaurant Opportunities Center of the Bay Area (ROC the Bay) along with Tiffany joining in NYC. This is where we really ***get into it***!!!The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $2.13 an hour since 1991. People argue endlessly, passionately and in the name of all working people (somehow!) against raising it. Here we examine some common arguments, one by one:The "Getting rid of subminimum wage means getting rid of tips" line of confusion/misinformation propagated by people who should know better. The "But I make so much damn money on tips, it's not necessary" trope, almost always coming from white men in higher end establishments in urban downtown areas coincidentally. The "Restaurants will literally be destroyed" lie, spread by people who apparently have never been to, heard of or, or read about large parts of the US. The "Prices will go up" fear mongering from folks who apparently haven't been paying attention to what prices do. The "People will tip less" hysteria from people who apparently don't understand how people decide what to tip. (Hint, it's not by googling an area's minimum wage). The "Well I know it works in California (or Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Montana, and Nevada) but it can't work (insert their state/region here) because...." - which, actually, we couldn't find info on cuz people seem to just say it without giving reasons for it. (Please reach out if you have some! I'm eager to dig deeper!)A lot of these arguments are perfectly illustrated in just this one infuriating WaPo oped from 2018 when the District was going through its own furious debate about the topic because of Initiative 77. I could dedicate a whole episode to that bit of history, and may yet. For more reading on the topic, check out The New Republic, the Economic Policy Institute, this chronicle article where an owner posits that he may just *gasp* have to make less, Eater on how we've been underpaying to dine out for years, this nerdy academic study, and then keep googling, and keep talking to people in equal treatment states, and keep reminding yourself that the practice itself is rooted in slavery, and that matters even today. You can listen to Part One of the discussion here, or wherever you subscribe.
102 minutes | Feb 13, 2021
Ep. 11: Tipping, Part 1: Subminimum Wage and Its Origins
I've long known this podcast would end up doing multiple episodes dedicated to different aspects of tipping, little did I know that the very first discussion, on the subminimum wage, would itself, get split into a two-parter. Tiffany in NYC joined again for a chat with two organizers from the Restaurant Opportunities Center here in the Bay Area (ROC the Bay): Adam Barr and Maria Moreno. For ease of listening/sharing I just broke it up into two segments. In Part One: we talk a little about our own experiences with working in subminimum or equal treatment states, and we look a little at the history of this practice, so..."unique"... to our country. As with most awful things you dig into in the US - it's fucking racist. To get more info: I cannot recommend enough this Focus on Health podcast interview with bartender, activist, and educator Ashtin Berry that gets into just why this history, and these conversations are so important. For more reading on the history (we are in no way sufficiently thorough here!) you can read recent One Fair Wage reports, rustle up this whole book on tipping, pick up Saru Jayaraman's book Forked, or check out some of these various articles tackling the subject. Also, this is why Herman Cain truly, truly sucks. Check out Part Two here, or wherever you subscribe. Reminder to follow Mondays Off on Instagram and Twitter, where you can always reach out with story ideas, comments, info, and feedback. Thumbnail image is of the Georgia Waiters Union, circa 1900.
103 minutes | Jan 28, 2021
Ep. 10: a Texas-Sized Chat w/Gina & Crystal from the Texas Service Industry Coalition
An hour and forty (!!!!) blew by with two of the leaders of the Texas Service Industry Coalition, Gina Dvorak (Insta/Twitter) and Crystal Maher (Insta/Twitter) - both based in Austin. Follow TSIC on Instagram and Twitter. We spend some time hearing about how things have gone down in the Lone Star state where they started to allow indoor dining back in May (WTF), reminding us that truly, we live in different worlds in this pandemic. Austin, with a reputation for being a little different from the rest of the notoriously red state, has had some particular ups and downs, like being sued by the Texas Attorney General for restaurant restrictions over the New Year's Holiday. Fun times! Mostly we discuss Texas during the pandemic, what led our guests to get active about workers' issues in their city and how they're trying to lend support to workers across the state. Including UNITEHERE Local 23 and local DSA chapters, TSIC has organized around pushing for UI bonus extensions, and generally have tried to keep workers' issues in people's faces during this whole crisis. We touch on vaccines for hospitality workers, some of whom top the list for risky jobs during this pandemic. (Can you guess who? Of course it's cooks!). Lush Life and Portland Cocktail Week came up with an amaaaazing document, updated constantly, with state-by-state info on vaccines for hospitality workers. CA news is that Gov. Newsom has opened the state for outdoor dining again, announced changes to the vaccine tiers, keeping food workers high priority but dropping other "essential" workers. Why the shuffle? Some logistical reasons. And why reopen now? Some are upset about it, and speculate that maybe it's his recall campaign. Of course we commiserate about our states' unemployment systems, everyone's favorite pastime.
81 minutes | Jan 16, 2021
Ep. 9: The RESTAURANTS Act & It's Flaws w/ Ben Reynolds of Restaurant Workers United
IT'S A PARTY!!!! Gettin' DOWN with pdfs on congress.gov today!! WOOOO!!!!But seriously, we dive into The RESTAURANTS Act, which, aside from having THE best legislative acronym since the proposed JAWS Act of 2014, may get a boost with a Biden administration and new Congress. Introduced in June, the $120 billion package purports to #saverestaurants. But what does it do? And will it save workers along with the establishments that employed them? Guarantees for employees are notably absent from the language of the bill, and there is little to guarantee that the relief would reach those who most need it. Check out the article in Jacobin.To discuss it, Ben Reynolds of Restaurant Workers United joins to examine how, with a House version principally backed by the Independent Restaurant Coalition and a Senate version backed by the (other) NRA, The RESTAURANTS Act runs the risk of being another giveaway to business interests, with workers left in the cold.Want to get involved in pushing for better legislation? Start by signing Restaurant Workers United's petition! That'll get you in touch with the group, which you can also follow on Twitter and Instagram. As always, industry folks looking to organize can also hit up the DSA's Restaurant Organizing Project, also coordinating efforts to amend this legislation. Or - Make a video and tell your story!! If you want to contribute to a social media campaign on this topic, you can make a short video on your phone (instructions here) and email it to email@example.com. We touch on some DOOM AND GLOOM too. Natch.Phew! After all the heavy stuff, Tiff & Karina just babble about bar folks storming the capitol, ill-advised selfies and PR weirdness at barproducts.com, who you can kick out of a bar, the vagaries of #DryJanuary and women's disconcertingly boozy reaction to lockdown, the Pin Project.
78 minutes | Jan 2, 2021
Ep. 8: A New Year! Yay?! Maybe? Who knows!
Last show of the year of our Covid, 2020! Here's to better things, more frequent shows, many cool new guests and generally learning a lot more about podcasting, in 2021!!Tiffany joins, champagne flute in hand, from NYC again. And an old comrade of Karina's, Mariah, drops in from DC, toasting the new year with Bacardi. Karina was unprepared for drinking at the early hour of noon PST so she managed to pour some Jack Daniels in her tea. It was not good. It was not bad.A holiday favorite in the industry, we discuss The Over-Entitled Customer. Khushbu Shah's piece in Food & Wine, titled, The Customer is Not Always Right, gives us plenty to mull over, dredges up some of our worst customer interactions, and reinforces our hopes that, in 2021, the industry learns to set boundaries, and Say No. No. You can not have each item in your to-go order individually packaged. No. We do talk about stimulus a bit, though the debate and potential filibuster were just ramping up on the senate floor at recording time. We weigh in on stimulus versus unemployment extension and bonuses. A bit. Mostly, we take it easy though. We look at the great "When does outdoors become indoors again?" debate raging in chilly cities across the nation, and spurring enforcement efforts in New York City. And, inspired by the traditional year-end round-ups, we throw out some tentative hopes for this industry as we look into the unknown, together. Hoping for good things from organizers this year, like ROP, RWU, Restaurant Worker's Council, and sooo many more. We close with the words of the still-very-much-missed Anthony Bourdain. Cheers y'all.
73 minutes | Dec 12, 2020
Ep. 7: We Stumble On....
After a hiatus to contemplate the crumbling of our society, we're back! And we're resolving to be nice while still being miserable, channelling these Ominous Positivity vibes. First off: Everyone hates Tom Brady. That's all. In unrelated news, India's been having the largest strike in world history. Chit-chat's over! Now, straight to the dark side - the worst people are coming out to eat. Not only are they tipping less but they're sexually harassing staff more than ever. One Fair Wage's full report here, with 6 pages of #MaskualHarassment quotes. The sub-minimum wage appears to make treatment worse, and praise be to places that found fairer ways of paying people during a pandemic. Also - DID YOU KNOW that Herman Cain (*turns and spits over shoulder*) was a main player in freezing submin wage at $2.13? Now you do. For more tipping knowledge, there's Kerry Segrave's Tipping: an American Social History of Gratuities. (Message the pod if it's too pricey for you). But our MAIN STORY (for some reason) is the Staten Island bar owner/manager who ran over a sheriff's deputy arresting him (again) for violating Covid safety protocols. Here he is on Hannity, loving the cops and railing against tyranny. And everyone should watch this press conference if only for the first guy's coat. It's so good. Problem is, the dudes have a point, one that is somewhat more thoroughly expressed in this pretty good Atlantic piece on the absurd nature of dining restrictions. Bar owners like this know it's either massive financial support from the government or reopening - they can't continue to be closed but be expected to pay bills. Sadly - the GOP articulates a (poisonous) solution draped in the rhetoric of "freedom": reopening, while Dems just….lower our expectations.
76 minutes | Oct 21, 2020
Ep. 6: Spyhouse Coffee Workers Unionizing in Minneapolis.
Grab a cuppa joe and listen up! It's a good one today folks :)Three workers from Spyhouse Coffee in Minneapolis - Elise, Maeve and Matt - chatted about the Whys and Hows of their choice to start unionizing their coworkers and stage the first successful food service industry strike in 20 years in the state of Minnesota. Against the background of the George Floyd protests, they also feel the problematic history of their workplace with their community is also an important part of their fight. (There have been some *ahem* problematic interactions/attitudes). Spyhouse workers have encountered pushback - and downright strange reactions - from management, but are set to hopefully have their vote mid-November. Minneapolis has been undergoing a bit of an organizing wave in our industry, with several distilleries and breweries also undertaking unionizing efforts since the start of the pandemic. You can follow Spyhouse on Instagram and Twitter. Other local unionizing efforts include Tattersall, Stilheart and Lawless distilleries and Fair State (a co-op!) and Surly Breweries. If you or someone you know is interested in learning about how to organize in this industry, Ilhan Omar (yes!!!) is joining food and beverage workers in a webinar on Oct. 26 to talk with folks who have organized and train those who want to. It's being cosponsored by Restaurant Workers United, the Restaurant Organizing Project, UniteHERE local 23 and 17 and the Denver DSA as well as the Bay's own Anchor Union (see Blake in Ep.1!!). There are finally socials for this podcast, lol, though I have yet to post everything. Someday I'll catch up. Find this pod on Instagram or Twitter and if you follow, you may soon even see a post! :p And of course we're up on Spotify and Stitcher (more soon!).
69 minutes | Oct 4, 2020
Ep. 5: Fun with Numbers, and Al Cousineau Says Hi from Kansas City.
Tiffany's back in New York and we check in with organizer, Al Cousineau in Kansas City (MO), who's been working with the Restaurant Organizing Project, and making cool art. We discuss underreporting/contact tracing troubles, the tragic passing of a legend, the power of the (corporate) strike, and the fact that the Rent is Definitely Too High for almost all NYC bars and restaurants. This episode's Bad News: Fox News spreading misinformation in Nashville about imaginary restaurant closure conspiracies. And of course, all your depressing numbers in one place. We leave you with some work related tunes we hope you like.
78 minutes | Sep 25, 2020
Ep. 4: Portland Unemployed Workers Council
This week we go (virtually!) to Portland to talk to two industry veterans, Venu Mattraw and Jad Mansour, who are organizers of that city's nascent Unemployed Workers Council, which builds on the tradition of similar councils that sprung up during the Great Depression. You can read a little about the historical councils here or here, and you can find Portland's on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or reach out via email at uwcpdx at protonmail dot com. There are also councils that have emerged in the Bay Area and Pittsburgh (probably more!). We spend some time talking about how the bar and restaurant world has formed our politics but if you want to skip to the part of the chat about the council specifically, that starts at 31:45. Also, here's the New Yorker article Venu mentions and is well worth the read (don't let the headline depress you): The Case For Letting the Restaurant Industry Die. As always you can reach out at mondaysoffpod at gmail dot com.
67 minutes | Sep 8, 2020
Ep. 3: Update on New York's rotting corpse and a chat with John Ocampo in Chicago.
Tiffany's back! We talk rampant ticketing of outdoor eating and drinking establishments in NYC, the unemployment benefits extension (here's a cool state-by-state tracker), the potential battery charges for harassing restaurant staff (depends on state), the threat of winter to outdoor seating, the threat of wildfire pollution to outdoor seating (Muahahaaa good times in CA), and oh yeah - that declaration that New York Is Dead Forever (spoiler, some folks disagree). On the bright side - these people in SF created a zip-line bar in their apartment building, which is better than hosting illegal (but pun-tastic!) raves. And I have a brief chat with John Ocampo, an organizer for UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, but that's a mouthful), currently based in Chicago, who talks about his time organizing restaurant workers in Miami when he worked with ROC. He's featured in this cool Fault Lines documentary about wage theft. We talk about this article in July's Rolling Stone, this NPR piece from the beginning of the shutdown, (and here's the Trillbilly Workers Party episode trashing that NPR piece, about 30 mins in). Thanks again to Kevin Breidenbach for use of some tunes!And listeners can always reach out at mondaysoffpod at gmail dot com or leave a Google Voice message at 510 575 9449. Cheers!
51 minutes | Aug 18, 2020
Ep. 2: Unions, Bars, and Covid: a conversation w/Blake Dahlstrom of Anchor Brewery.
In this episode I have a chat with one of the leaders of the drive to unionize Anchor Brewery and Public Taps in San Francisco, which became the first craft brewery in the nation to unionize. If you're interested in what folks are doing around the country to organize in our industry, check out the DSA's Restaurant Organizing Project, which is being picked up by various chapters across the country, and also Restaurant Workers United, which started in Denver this past Spring (sign their petition here and get added to their lists of supporters!). If you're in the Bay and want to chat about bringing actions like these to our area, I've thrown up a FB group - Ask to join! Add friends! Post whatever! Gotta start somewhere!
48 minutes | Aug 9, 2020
Ep. 1: It's the apocalypse, let's start a podcast.
Just two bartenders shooting the shit about our industry while it crumbles around us!Karina in Oakland checks in with Tiffany in NYC.Tiff talks about the city's drinking problems, Cuomo's response, and traffic woes. Karina goes over her favorite "nightmare customer" headlines from CA and beyond: this douchebag at Lanesplitter in Berkeley, the *former* CEO on a racist rant in Fresno, the coughing customer Karina would definitely have punched, the sweet 19-yr-old McDonald's worker who was assaulted in Oakland, and the dude who flashed a gun at an 18-yr-old server in Kansas. Also, people are shooting people. Your co-hosts slap their foreheads over the Bar Lives Matter protest in Texas, and suggest people are angry at the wrong folks. Thanks to Lemmedoya for that kitchen ticket printer trauma, and here's the podcast I mention: Dixieland of the Proletariat - check 'em out!
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