Cafe Society

Reader: I Wear a Chef Coat and Don't Make $15 an Hour!

As Michael Roberts reports on the Latest Word this morning, yesterday's protest outside the McDonald's at 505 East Colfax Avenue -- part of a nationwide campaign demanding higher wages and union rights -- resulted in three arrests and plenty of attention for the issue. And the comments keep coming in.

See also: Three Arrests in Fast-Food Workers for Higher Wages, Union Rights

Says George:
$15/hr? I wear a chef coat and carry $500 worth of knives to work every day and don't make that much. Completely unrealistic.

Says Michael:

Whether you agree or disagree that $15 an hour is too much, the fact here is that people are getting cuffed and stuffed for exercising their 1st amendment rights. This should be the bigger concern. Unless, of course, you believe these folks are excluded from those rights?

And then there's this from Matt:

For the record, the Colorado Restaurant Association put out the following statement regarding the protests yesterday:
Today, labor unions orchestrated demonstrations in the Denver area, attacking the restaurant industry and disparaging the 250,000 jobs that restaurants provide in Colorado. The activities have proven to be orchestrated labor union PR events, as part of a nationwide campaign, where participants are activists and paid demonstrators.

Only 5% of restaurant workers earn the minimum wage, and the vast majority of those are entry-level workers, teens, young adults and people working part-time. These jobs provide the flexibility to balance school and work, with 45% of workers from age 18 to 24 being students.

A job in a restaurant, regardless of your age or experience, is a great place to learn critical skills that stay with you throughout your career, such as personal responsibility, teamwork, people skills, and accountability. Increased payroll costs in the form of higher wages will increase menu prices--depleting the customer base and threatening jobs.

This is an industry that thrives on upward mobility. More than 90% of managers, supervisors and chefs said they started out in entry-level positions in restaurants, as did 77% of restaurant owner/operators. More than 80% of current employees agree that restaurants provide opportunity for people to succeed based on their own hard work.

Colorado restaurants provide opportunity and a path for career advancement for a diverse workforce. They don't deserve these attacks from the national labor groups.

What do you think of the minimum wage level? The protests? Post your thoughts below, and read many more comments here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun