To the Editor:
Instead of whining about the shortage of workers, let’s recognize that the pandemic is a great time for a reset for the restaurant industry.
Temporarily closing down restaurants and compensating their workers with both time off and money has allowed many to look for better work opportunities. It is a laborer’s market and these workers deserve the best-paying jobs available. The pandemic also made clear that a job that offers paid sick leave and health insurance is also preferable to one that does not.
And it is also time for consumers to admit that we have not been paying our fair share. Yes, a generous tip is commendable, but we also need to insist on well-compensated service workers. People who work in the food industry are not only skilled, but they deserve our respect. Insist that employers pay a living wage with the understanding that we may have to pay a few more dollars for our meal. Having a meal served to us is not a right, it is a privilege. There is a cost associated with that privilege and it is a matter of basic decency to fairly compensate the people who make it happen!
Also, what a great time to remember the historic role of immigrants in helping our country meet labor shortages in the past. Tell Congress to start working on long overdue immigration reform. Our country was built by immigrant labor and we need their help now!
There is a silver lining in this pandemic. It has exposed great vulnerabilities, yet it also makes clear that we have wonderful opportunities for fairness and growth! This is the time to make things better for everyone.
Village of Caroline