Workers’ Bill of Rights Gains Traction, Marisa Lagos, SF Chronicle
An interesting article, but I found these two sections with quotes from Jen Piallat, owner of Zazie, the most informative.
Jen Piallat, owner of the successful Cole Valley restaurant Zazie, offers her employees full benefits, a matching 401(k) retirement account, and maternity and paternity leave.
Perhaps more unusual, her employees have the same schedule every week. If they need a shift covered, it’s their responsibility to find a colleague to work. And if business is slow, she never sends employees home unless they volunteer to leave.
Far from hurting her business, Piallat believes her policies have been intrinsic to her restaurant’s success. While her business is not part of a chain, she’s been one of the business owners whom City Hall leaders point to as they push for a “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” The proposed city law is designed to make life easier for hourly, low-wage workers at the city’s 1,250 chain-store locations, including retail and fast-food businesses, hotel chains and banks, by discouraging on-call scheduling and encouraging access to full-time hours.
Piallat, the restaurant owner, said she believes her worker-friendly policies have helped her bottom line. In an industry with high turnover, she hasn’t had to hire a kitchen worker in more than three years – four have been there for well over a decade – and more than half of her wait staff have been there for more than seven years. That experience makes her workers more efficient, she said, lowering her costs and increasing her revenue – and their tips.
“Restaurants have always had schedules that are announced the day before you have to be there, which makes it next to impossible to go to school, book doctor’s appointments, child care – anything white-collar workers just assume they will have in their lives,” she said. “I thought it was ridiculous.”
She initially instituted policies such as set schedules and benefits “because I wanted to sleep at night,” but she quickly realized it was making her business more profitable.
“You can tell people, ‘Do it because it makes you happy, it makes your customers and employees happy – or you can do it because you will save money,’ ” she said. “There’s this (narrative) that employers are pure evil … but I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think they are doing these things because they have always done it that way, and they don’t know any different. If we give them other options, they will use them.”