Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bone Me Greed

I am not surprised that this story comes out of Benton County, a few yards away from Ronnie Floyd's Six Flags Tabernacle, but I am sure it will quickly spread throughout the Arkansas "hospitality" industry that has demanded a sub-minimum wage for employees. The Bonefish Grill is just one among many.

Laura Stevens reported yesterday, "Facing an average creditcard processing fee of 3 percent, some restaurants are passing along part of that cost to their waiters and waitresses." The Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, which owns Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, pays wait staff employees $2.36 an hour, and now they want to takeback 3% of the tips paid on credit cards. A non-union waitress at Bonefish Grill in Rogers who asked not to be identified because she said she might lose her job, said “We don’t get a say in what credit cards are used, and we don’t have the ability to negotiate, on our behalf the rates that these credit cards use.”

Today, Meredith Oakley asks some good questions. "Talk about your cheapskate, money-grubbing schemes," she says. "What’s next, renting out the wait stations? Hey, corporate bigwigs, I know times are hard, but why take it out on the wait staff? They work long hours on their feet, shuffling plates and trays between table and kitchen, trying to keep all manner of customers satisfied, for about half as much pay as is drawn by your average minimum-wage worker in another field of endeavor, and the government already extracts a percentage of what it estimates they should be taking home in tips whether they’re taking home that much or not. Why penalize them for what everybody knows is the cost of doing business today?"

Oakley advises to write a zero for tip when using a credit card and leave your tip in cash. Other alternatives to recapture the corporate theft would be to get the state legislature to require restaurants and bars to pay the $6.25 state minimum wage. Another good solution would be for the abused wait staff to contact Unite-Here and get a union to stand up to such schemes to perpetuate wage slavery. These servers now have no voice at the legislature or in the boardroom of OSI Restaurant Partners, and, unless they organize, it is likely they'll keep getting boned.

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