Labor Unrest

Anonymous Dishwasher Speaks Out About Wage Woes

Photo: Randy Harris

The Brooklyn Paper takes another look at the crackdown on underpaying Park Slope restaurants. An anonymous chef estimates that “fifty percent of all hospitality labor in the Slope is undocumented” — something owners say puts them in a bind. But lest you think these ilegales are being exploited, a couple of restaurateurs chime in to say how much they’re appreciated. “They’re here to work. They’re not here to f— around, as opposed to some culinary kid just out of school who has something to prove,” says the anonymous chef. Martin Medina, owner of Rachel’s on Fifth Avenue, puts it this way: “The immigrants I love, it’s the Americans I hate.” But the rhetoric is accompanied by another account in which an anonymous dishwasher at one of the cited restaurants speaks out.

The 28-year-old immigrant currently gets paid $260 per week, and estimates it will take him a year of working twelve-hour days, six days per week, to make back the $4,000 he spent to get here from Guatemala. Until the Labor Department raid, he wasn’t allowed to eat or drink as much as a soda at work.

You don’t come here to have fun, dress well or eat what you want. You try to save money, avoid things, not dress well, not eat whatever one wants. I send about $300 home a week. I get tips, roughly $90 or $100. I don’t spend much and I save as much as possible. If I spent a lot, I wouldn’t be able to send this much money. I don’t spend much. I live in Coney Island and come here on bicycle. I don’t use the subway.

Labor abuse? One worker speaks [Brooklyn Paper]
Restaurateurs Have Clean Conscious About Dirty Business [Brooklyn Paper]

Anonymous Dishwasher Speaks Out About Wage Woes