Asheville food and beverage workers launch campaign on May Day

Press release from Just Economics of WNC:

On May 1st, 2022 Asheville Food and Beverage United will be launching a new campaign as part of a May Day Rally at 2pm at Pritchard Park.  Asheville Food and Beverage United is a worker-led coalition who began organizing together following May Day 2021 and is dedicated to advocacy and support for all food and beverage workers in Asheville.

May 1st is known as International Workers Day or May Day and events in Asheville will include a rally with speakers from various worker-led movements, music by Brass Your Heart, street theater about the history of May Day, and the launch of the new campaign of Asheville Food and Beverage United.

“For far too long, our work has been stigmatized as kind of a job of last resort but many of us love this industry and know we deserve to be treated just as well as workers in any other industry,” said Jen Hampton, a leader in Asheville Food and Beverage United. “We are organizing food and bev workers to stand together in solidarity to bring about changes to the industry which would allow us to live dignified lives while working in the industry we love.”

Their new campaign is named the Food and Beverage Workers Fair Deal. The goals of the campaign include getting a living wage, paid sick days, and fairness in scheduling for all restaurant workers. Asheville Food and Beverage United members will be reaching out to local restaurant owners to sign on and reaching out to the public to support.

“Consistent, reliable and timely scheduling at my current job has allowed me to plan my life much easier,” continues Hampton. “Because of this, I have been able to grow my side job into a full-blown business and spend more time with my kids and grandkids. At previous jobs where sometimes the schedule wouldn’t be posted until the day before the schedule starts, I could never plan my life ahead more than a few days because I never knew what days I’d be off or how many hours I could expect. That’s no way to live life”

Hampton and her fellow organizers with Asheville Food and Beverage United believe in the power of worker organizing and strength in numbers. They intend to encourage and applaud Asheville restaurants who sign onto the Food and Beverage Workers Fair Deal and hope to make changes at restaurants that are not yet paying a living wage, providing adequate sick days, or demonstrating fair scheduling practices. They intend to continue organizing with fellow food and beverage workers on issues that impact their lives and work, like downtown parking.

In addition to featuring the launch of the Food and Beverage Workers Fair Deal campaign, May Day 2022 will highlight worker-led movements locally and celebrate the boost in worker organizing that has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic. From Amazon workers and Starbucks employees winning union organizing campaigns to local efforts like the one of the Asheville Food and Beverage United group, more workers are feeling empowered to fight for better wages and working conditions. May Day is a true celebration of these workers and their victories.

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