Monday, January 15, 2018

Is Serb Hall's Fish Deep Fried?

Long time readers of this here blog might remember back almost six years ago to the saga of Serb Hall and the Solidarity Fish Fry.

The management at Serb Hall were trying to bust their union, blaming the union workers for costing them too much money. When we learned of the news, Randy Bryce (yes, THAT Randy Bryce) and I spearheaded one of the most unique direct actions in labor history.  Instead of the usual informational pickets or even a boycott, we organized the Solidarity Fish Fry.

The idea of the Solidarity Fish Fry was, instead of avoiding Serb Hall, everyone would go to Serb Hall every Friday for the then famous fish fry and eat to their heart's content.  The thing though was that when the people were to be seated, they needed to ask for a union table.  If a union table was not available, then you'd say you'd wait for one. 

The effects were clear on the first night when scores of people showed up for dinner.  Randy and I did this week in and week out for six straight months.  We had people from all walks of life - and from all parts of the globe - come join us to raise their forks in solidarity.

Unfortunately, it did not work out the way we had hoped.  During negotiations, the management declared an impasse and broke the union.  As it turned out, they also broke their own backs at the same time with businesses dropping as word got out.

The reason that I bring all this up now is that over the weekend, I had run into one of the union waitresses Randy and I and few score of our closest friends tried to help.  She said that she was still at Serb Hall but only part time because things were going to badly.

As we talked, two things that she said really struck me.

One, she said that Serb Hall's business had cratered so badly that they were having problems meeting payroll.  Sometimes workers were going for days after payday before receiving their checks, putting the worker's personal budgets into tailspins.

The other thing was that whatever money problems Serb Hall was having had nothing to do with the unions.  It turned out that one of the managers was embezzling tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.  But given the top manager's boorish and idiotic tendencies, I would not be surprised to learn that he new about it for a while but still blamed the unions.  I hope he's proud of killing the business out of spite and ignorant hatred.

Greed never wins.

ADDENDUM: Oh, Randy, if you're reading this, I'm supposed to tell you that the waitresses are cheering for you in your race to repeal and replace Lyin' Ryan!

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