Check it out: we got our hands on a letter the CEO of the $20-million-plus Consolidated Restaurants chain sent to his employees trying to convince them to oppose secure scheduling. No surprise that the letter is more than a little flexible with the truth, starting with the claim in the very first sentence that supposedly secure scheduling “could reduce much of the flexibility we currently enjoy.”
That “we” gives it away, doesn’t it? Because right now all the flexibility out there is “enjoyed” by the executives, not workers. And that’s the core of the problem: because flexibility shouldn’t just go in one direction. Workers need flexibility too — the flexibility to care for our families, contribute to our communities, and live our lives.
The letter than segues to an utterly misleading claim about shift swapping, and it doesn’t get any more direct or truthful after that.
But you gotta have some sympathy: there’s no good way to convince workers to be against their own rights, so the CEO has no choice but to use some of that famous flexibility to be more than a little flexible with the truth.
Here’s an annotated version:
There is a very real possibility of local legislation being passed soon that will impact how our industry is allowed to schedule employees, the consequences of which could reduce much of the flexibility we currently enjoy.
The “we” gives it all away here: it’s true that we intend to pass local legislation on scheduling, and that it will reduce the “flexibility” which the “we” who wrote this letter — PEOPLE WHO OWN RESTAURANT CHAINS — “currently enjoy”. That’s the whole point. Right now workers are expected to be completely flexible for the needs of their employers, but they don’t get the flexibility they need in return. (Confidential to Jim: You don’t just get to jump to first-person plural here.)
This issue was discussed at our meeting on March 3rd at which time several of you expressed interest in learning more.
The first public city council hearing on secure scheduling was March 8th. Apparently the employer lobby has been trying to organize since *before* then.
In summary, some of the possible consequences of this legislation could be:
No legislation has been introduced yet so not clear how he can foresee what’s in it, but whatevs, we’ll give him some flexibility here.
* Elimination of shift swapping
Nope. Nobody — nobody — is proposing anything that would limit workers' flexibility to voluntarily swap shifts. The opposite: there's a consensus that any secure scheduling ordinance should explicitly protect the practice of voluntary shift swapping. That's because we’re a worker organization, and this campaign is run by workers who want to have more flexibility in their lives. That’s, like, the point.
* Elimination of on call shifts
Got us there: it would be good to not force people to be available for work without paying them. A bunch of State Attorneys General even think this may already be illegal.
* Elimination of working double shifts
Looks like he's getting a little flexible with the truth again here. We do believe everyone should have a right to rest as a matter of basic health & safety. There's nothing wrong with voluntarily working a double shift, but nobody should be required to work closing down a shop late one night, and then have to turn around and open up early the next morning.
* Position modifications with regard to flexibility, hours and scope of work ie Servers also working as SA's in order to meet minimum hour requirements and avoid payment of scheduled hours not worked due to being called off
OK it seems like they’re just making things up here because the words in this one don't really come together into sentences and we have no idea what “avoid payment of scheduled hours not worked due to being called off” even means.
We've scheduled an educational meeting with representatives from the Seattle Restaurant Alliance for next Thursday March 24th at 3pm at the Metropolitan Grill the purpose of which is to help us, and them, understand this legislation more thoroughly and how we can impact the outcome.
The Seattle Restaurant Alliance is the local arm of the Washington Restaurant Association, the state’s leading lobby group for chain restaurants (and now hotels too!) This is a group that insisted that raising the minimum wage would cause economic disaster before the state raised wages in 1988 and in 1998. They insisted that paid sick days would close restaurants before Seattle passed sick days in 2011. And they preached that the sky would fall if Seattle passed a $15 law. And each and every time they were wrong. They're definitely not the best source of "educational" info here.
I encourage anyone who can make it to do so.
Did you make it? Please let us know about it: email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 253-256-5176
Jim Rowe is the CEO of Consolidated Restaurants, a multi-million-dollar chain which owns Metropolitan Grill, Wing Dome, and other outlets. Rowe is a former chair of the infamous Washington Restaurant Association, and continues to serve as a board member.
And no joke: he released this letter to employees through the company’s scheduling system.