'Dine-in' demonstration April 1 in Boiling Springs supports labor

by Rob Groce
orginally posted at http://www.examiner.com/article/dine-demonstration-april-1-boiling-springs-supports-labor

Monday’s Spartanburg demonstration isn’t a sit-in, but a dine-in. And it might take place on April 1st, but there’ll be no fooling going on.

Instead, the 12 noon “dine-in” demonstration at the Copper River Grill (2104 Hwy 9 in Boiling Springs) is a serious event to show support for the folks who work there.

The wait staff, bartenders and hostesses of this restaurant will decide by vote later this week to join the National Workers Association labor union.

All in the local community, especially union members, students and faith activists, are invited to drop by, have a meal, and show support for workers’ organizing efforts.

Employees at this site of the eight-location chain are drastically underpaid, says Russell Bannan, an organizer of the dine-in who works for Jobs with Justice.

While South Carolina has no minimum-wage laws, most of its food and beverage service companies adhere to the national minimum of $2.13 per hour for employees who receive more than $30 a month in tips.

This makes Copper River Grill staff subject to earnings below the non-tip minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, leaving them dependent on government provisions for poverty, such as food stamps.

“Apparently Copper River thinks that the taxpayers are responsible for paying their workers,” Bannan says, “because that is what Copper River is saying when they pay hard-working employees starvation wages.”

Workers at the restaurant agree. “I serve food to people all day and I love my job, but I make barely enough to get by,” says Victoria Ballard, who has worked at Copper River’s Boiling Springs location for three years.

State Rep. Harold Mitchell will attend, as well, “to show support for these workers’ rights and reasonable demands.

“It’s wrong for corporations to rely on tax payers to subsidize their low-wage, high profit policies," says Mitchell (D-Spartanburg).

Mitchell is also chairman of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus and co-chair of the South Carolina Progressive Network.

Six of Cooper River Grill’s eight locations are in South Carolina.

A petition for workers at the Boiling Springs location to decide on union representation was first filed with the National Labor Review Board on Feb. 11.

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