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Because of lack of benefits, restaurant workers serve sick

10.31.10

NOVEMBER 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Because of lack of benefits, restaurant workers serve sick

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, October 15th- According to a study released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United ROC United, a national organization with more than 6,000 members which includes seven restaurant worker groups across the country that is dedicated to improving conditions for industry workers, the majority of restaurant workers serve while sick.

The ROC United revealed their findings on October 1st, and indicated the high rates of injury and illness puts the workers and consumers at risk and was caused because of a lack of health insurance and paid sick days within the industry. The jobs sector is mostly nonunion.

The study was based on 4,323 surveys of restaurant workers in cities nationwide, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Miami.

The organization findings include that restaurant workers largely lack paid sick days and health insurance to cope with high rates of injury and illness.

Highlights from the study include:

• Nearly 90 percent of workers said they did not receive paid sick days. As a result, two-thirds of respondents said they had worked while sick in the previous year, preparing, cooking and serving food.

• Around 90 percent of people reported not having insurance through their employers, and 61 percent reported not having health insurance at all.

Almost one quarter (22.7 percent) reported that they or a family member had gone to the emergency room without being able to pay last year.

• Health and safety violations reported by restaurant workers include: fire hazards; missing mats on the floor to prevent slipping; and missing guards on cutting machines. Fourty-six percent of respondents have been burned on the job and 49 percent reported being cut on the job.

With more than 10 million workers, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the economy.

“Restaurants should offer workers safer places to work, and workers should have access to benefits including health insurance, paid sick days and workers’ compensation insurance. Without these improvements, the industry will continue to put both workers and consumers at risk,” stated ROC United Director Saru Jayaraman.

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