lulu, hillsider companion

lulu, hillsider companion

Thursday, November 20, 2014

greed and the walk of shame; rain; and a very nice sauvignon blanc

first things first: today's l a times (a really good newspaper that's getting better every day) had an excellent article concerning the shameful fact that there are a number of l a restaurants which are being hauled into court to answer for the nasty transgressions that, when taken together, add up to stealing money from those who need it most and work the hardest to earn it: namely, wage theft.

wage theft is a term that covers a lot of ground. it includes things like paying employees (usually those who are the least able to defend themselves, such as illegals) wages that don't come anywhere close to meeting the legally-mandated minimums; forcing people to work "off-the -clock"; stealing tips; not allowing employees time for rest or bathroom breaks; not giving meal breaks; and a whole host of other nasty habits.

don't misunderstand: these practices are certainly not restricted to l a. in fact, just based on my 30+ years in the hospitality industry, my educated guess is that l a ain't even close to being the city with the worst record in this area. however, being that the times is the paper that's on the trail at this particular moment, their city will have to take the heat.

the bottom line is that the victims are beginning to fight back. several years ago starbucks was hauled into court over the practice of what was politely referred to as "tip-sharing"; apparently, managers were including themselves in the distribution of the proceeds from the tip jars that patrons deposited the monies intended as a reward for good service to be distributed among the floor and counter employees, and the "barristas". this has been determined by the courts to be a "no-no"; only those employees whose primary duties are to directly serve in traditional capacities are considered "servers", and so entitled to the proceeds of funds given by those served as a reward. this does not include managers, cooks, dishwashers, owners, etc. nor should it, since in almost every establishment the servers are the lowest-paid employees in the house, depending on tips and gratuities to supplement the base pay given by the establishment. this practice is further set into stone by the "tip credit" benefit given by the government to the establishment which allows the house to pay the employee a wage that is below the mandated minimum wage based on the theory that they will supplement it through tip income that will raise them to a level above that "minimum wage".

you can see where the problem comes in.

so now, several newer generations of hospitality workers down the road from those who entered the industry immediately after ww2, we have people who are better educated, better read, more socially aware, and more plugged-in who still find themselves laboring in a culture that trails the rest of the business world by 30 or 40 years in many establishments, managed/owned by mentalities that haven't really progressed much beyond the European hotel/restaurant cultures of the '50s, 60s, and 70s. there are still European-trained chefs coming out of their culinary programs who today believe that patting a waitress or hostess on the butt or screaming obscenities at a dishwasher is a right, rather than a problem. the same issues are to be found in some culinarians and managers coming out of the Asian markets. they and the old-timers, however, find themselves confronting that newer generation of second-level workers, and that's where the sparks are beginning to fly. good. it's about time.

again, don't misunderstand: there are many, many fine managers and owners in the industry, who genuinely care about their employees and work diligently to see that they are treated fairly and with respect. however, the bad eggs tend to stink up the kitchen, and they need to be weeded out.

on to a more pleasant topic: it's raining up here in the far north valley, and both Shasta and lassen are shrouded in rolling mist and fog this morning. more rain to come, too, for the next couple of days; maybe as much as another 2 inches on top of the 1/2 inch yesterday and last night. things are looking up!

and another pleasant item to close: had a bottle of boeger's 2013 el dorado sauvignon blanc last night, and it was an outstanding example of what sb is supposed to be. the wine is absolutely varietally correct: it is pure. bright straw color with some greenish highlights, a grassy-citrusy nose that jumps out of the glass, and rich, crisp, grapefruity-green appley flavors on the palate and right through the finish. so good, in fact, that I intend to have another tonight. and only $14.99 at my local corner deli. I recommend you try it for yourself.

okay, that's it for now.

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