Saturday, November 24, 2012

Solidarity Fish Fry, Week 7: Musings At A Fish Fry

Due to work schedules and whatnot, I ended up dining by myself at Serb Hall tonight.

Normally, I hate eating out by myself, but it was for a good cause, so I still went.  I am definitely glad that I did.

I was seated in Victoria's section again.  She greeted me like an old friend and told me how Randy Bryce and others had already been there.

I smiled to myself that we are doing such a good job supporting them that they are knowing us by name.

I also got to meet Michelle, another one of the union waitresses.  She normally works the first shift for the lunch crowd, but stayed late today.  I guess there was such a demand for union staff.

As with all the other union employees, and several non-union ones, she thanked us for all that we are doing and stated that it is having a definite impact.  I thanked her for staying strong and standing up for herself and her union brothers and sisters.

It was  a regular (Serb) Hallmark moment, but with fish.

Eating alone gave gave me some much needed moments of peace.  It also allowed me to pay closer attention to what's going on.

I noticed that even though she had her own section to tend to, Victoria took the time to help one of the non-union servers out.  A few seconds later, I saw Michelle doing the same thing with another non-union server.

I reflected that this is as it should be as it parallels real life.

Some of the non-union staff are in support of the union workers, and some would like to even join.  But they are afraid to because they also see the harassment management has been giving the union workers.  Other workers hate the unions and blame them for the situation they are in.  And there are workers who don't care one way or the other.

But regardless of the non-union worker's attitude, the union members still help them out because they realize they are in this all together.

It's the same way in the world beyond Serb Hall.

There are some people who would like to unionize, but are afraid to because of the intimidation and threats coming from management.  There are some people who simply support unions because they recognize how they benefit everyone.  And there are some people that just have an irrational hatred for the unions and blame them for everything.  There are also lots of people that just don't care either way if the unions survive or not.

But regardless of the attitudes of the these other folks, the unions still strive to make the world a better place by fighting for family-sustaining wages, safe work environments and respect in the workplace.

When the unions win these rights and fight to keep them, this forces other companies to raise their standards or lose their workers to the union shops.

And thereby all the boats are raised with the tide, as the saying goes.

The acknowledgement that we are all in this together - that an injury to one is an injury to all - and the pulling together to pull everyone up is called solidarity.

Which brings us back to the Solidarity Fish Fry.

Who knew that a fish fry could be so philosophical?

We'll take care of that next week, our eighth consecutive week, when we will be able to say, "We eight the Solidarity Fish Fry."


  1. Good observations, Capper.

  2. Less twitter with twatters and wankers = more peace and quiet.

  3. We should also realize that while the union staff makes double what the non union wait staff makes, their wage is still around $4 an hour. The reward for treating your employees with humanity and dignity is so much higher than the employees receive. Why Serb hall does not see the benefit from their increased customers is beyond me. It is a matter of moral choice. Or immoral in their case.

  4. Thoughtful and insightful. We were mildly anti union a few years ago but now have given our support. As you point out we have a right to not be in a union and we have a right to be in a union. Don't think the anti-union folks realize how low wages will fall without union bargaining support. If we lived closer we'd be joining you next friday. Eat well; although you better start ordering broiled fish if you're eating fried food every friday.

  5. As a non union server at Serb Hall I can state that yes we all help each other to get the job done on Fridays. We do not need a union to tell us that. What we need is managements ability to fairly schedule servers on all functions not just fish fries. The majority of us are non union for that exact reason. No incentive to join because the union only represents 4 senior/part-time servers that make between $25.-$30. per hour for doing what used to be done by the kitchen and bus staff. On other events they are 90% of the time serving buffets so why does not that get shared by all servers.I do not understand that you people do not see the big picture, fish fry is such a minor part of Serb Hall's business. It's the banquets and the union refuses to negotiate a contract that gives equality to all servers, then we would join.I applaud your effort but until the union tries to negotiate a contract for all of us, this place will soon be history.

    1. That is the most inane comment.

      You say that you won't join the union because there's no incentive, but then complain that the union workers are getting a better deal.

      Then, even though you won't join the union, you want the union to work for you.

      That's not how it works. Unions are there to protect their members and make sure they get a fair shake. If you don't join the union, then don't complain that they are doing better than you. It's a choice you made and you get to deal with the consequences.

      In other words, if you want a better deal, join the union and starting really working with your coworkers.

  6. Yes, and the fact that there are union workers, and the (lesser) non-union workers, is very representative of our society in the sense that the working class itself is so deeply divided today. In most of the work world, the difference between union and non--union is seen in both the wages and basic rights of the workers. T%he good thing about not having the choice of joining a union is that you are liberated from the burdens of having to make decisions -- they are made for you.

  7. I find it hard to believe that the fight between Serb Hall and the union has anything to do with preventing fair scheduling of employees. It's the union that makes things stay fair for all employees. Seniority is usually how employees are scheduled. If you deserve the hours that are available, the union will make sure you get them. That is the whole point. The union prevents scheduling based on the personal preference of management. I'm pretty sure that is how things would work if Serb Hall had it their way. Stay strong and keep fighting for your rights as workers!

  8. Serb Hall has been a union for a very long time. When was the servers' job done by the kitchen and bussers?

  9. We came the first week of Solidarity Fish Fry and look forward to another one soon.

  10. It is true that there is a lot more business besides fish fry. What was failed to be mentioned is that a lot of our banquet business is from unions. I only averaged $19 an hour last year. The only reason it averaged that high is because our hours have been cut down for banquets, but we make the same gratuity. This began around the same time that we started having problems between the union and magement. We now come in 2-3 hours later to start a banquet. The work that we did is now done by bussers. Since our hours have been cut almost in half, it appears that we make much more per hour. Since, bussers make more per hour than we do, I wonder why we stopped doing that work. I can only speculate that this was done on purpose to make us look like we are greedy and make much more per hour. I have been at Serb Hall for 11 years and don't remember my job ever being done by bussers or kitchen staff. Also, there are 5 union servers left. Shifts are scheduled based on seniority, which I feel is fair. If you put in your time, you earn more hours. I had to work there for many years before I moved up and earned the hours I get now. One thing that management should realize is that with seniority, comes experience. They should want to reward their long term employees instead trying to take things away. Many of the non-union workeres only want to work Fridays. They should look for servers that want to join the union and work more days. Then we would have a fuller, experienced staff, as it was for many years. I love my union and all they have done for me. We will continue to fight for what we have earned! Thanks to everyone that is supporting us. We greatly appreciate you!