Asheville may be plodding its way toward a goal of decency and fairness. Some awareness seems to be stirring out there: A headline in the May 28 Xpress tells us “Living Wage Issue Picking Up Steam.” Some Asheville businesses are already on board, displaying that fact with a notice on or in their premises.
If this idea goes anywhere, the people on the lowest rungs of the local economy—our hospitality industry—may see fairness in the workplace. The local [daily] paper that same day ran a feature article about cutting your own hair to save money. We’re due a companion article about how much you save stiffing the waiter or waitress, or hiring a Dominican maid to clean your house.
One reason people find themselves on the lowest rung of our economic ladder is because they’re often helpless and unable to work their way out of their fix, blocked whichever way they turn by unaffordable day care, their own illness or that of a dependent, sleazy landlords etc.
Another problem facing waitpersons is the responsibility of Asheville business owners to their help. We can name a number of restaurants in the past 10 to 20 years that simply presented their staff one morning with locked doors, a disconnected phone and no forwarding address when they showed up for work. No notice, no place to contact the former owners. Some of these workers were owed pay that they never collected. How cute.
At the time the city issues a restaurant license, it should also require some kind of bond that will provide for events like unforeseen closing, employee mishaps etc. Next thing you know, someone will start talking about Asheville and the 20th century in the same sentence.
— Allen Thomas