At today’s meeting I learned that we are raising the prices of our “employee meals” from 2$ to 3$ (I manage a restaurant located inside a fairly nice hotel to put this post into context). These meals consist of food we do not offer for our customers; mainly chicken strips, cheeseburgers (the tiny kind), cheese quesadillas, french fries. Cheap food. Bar food. Food I myself won’t even eat. In the restaurant we serve overpriced steaks, crab cakes, and salmon. So overpriced, in fact, that business is steadily decreasing – a change that was made by our insightful upper management. Which means that my servers can no longer afford to pay their bills, let alone eat our food, and we are quickly losing great employees, some of which have been with us for years.
But to return to my original complaint… The 2$ employee meal is quite literally the only benefit to working at the hotel. We used to be a branded (franchised) well-known name hotel, and this used to be an excellent place to work. Since we lost that brand and were taken over by a management company, everything has gone to shit. The increase in this meal price comes on the heels of cut hours, increased per-person workload (in housekeeping), a switch to lousy insurance policies, a revocation of our travel discount, a one-year suspension in the earning and taking of paid vacation (since we were bought by a new owner), a paltry restaurant discount, a laughable wage for our restaurant servers (who, on a extremely slow lunch shift really do only make 2.13 per hour, thank you outdated and unfair Indiana laws), the hiring of a food and beverage manager that does nothing but criticize, blame, and fluster his staff (myself included), a ban on employees using the facilities of the hotel in any way, shape, or form, and a “company policy” dispute between myself and our accounting department over their refusal to cut a check to my hostess who’s paycheck was 19 dollars when it should have been well over 150 dollars (this was no fault of her own, it was the accounting department who messed up her pay). She got paid on her next check, two weeks later. Speaking of wages, the housekeeping girls mostly make minimum wage, and those who have been “lucky” enough to see a raise haven’t seen one in four years.
In case you are thinking to yourself, “geez, well, maybe the hotel isn’t doing so well and so cutbacks are necessary”, let me clear this up. As I said, our hotel is currently managed by a management company. They manage hundreds of hotels across the country. The general manager they sent to us lives in the hotel for free. Eats for free… breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last night he had a ribeye steak delivered to his room, along with sides, a salad and cheesecake. We did a quick estimate of just how much free food he has eaten in the two years he has been residing in the hotel and it was around 20 thousand dollars. He never leaves his office to find out what is going on in the hotel or the restaurant (except to come eat of course) and easily makes three to four times the salary that I do. And at least five to six times that of our minimum wage employees. All while doing five times less work.
I recently discovered that after nearly eight months of working full-time for this company, I am still classified as a part-time employee. Apparently you have to work full time for a full two “periods” before they will switch you and I “just missed” a full time average in my first period since I was part time for a fraction of it. The kicker is that if I had walked in off the street and began my same job with them without having been a part time employee before, I would have been eligible for the “benefits” of full time after 90 days. Namely, paid holidays. Not vacation, no, since that is on hold. It’s just one more way to dick their employees and save them money.
But to be honest, the biggest issue I take with all of this is the demoralization of the employees I care about and the complete disregard of their happiness and welfare. I’m a manager, so I’m paid slightly more. I also don’t have children so the only person I have to worry about feeding after the bills are paid is myself. Many of the girls that work for us are single moms. Many of the girls in housekeeping are single moms. These are hardworking people trying to make a living on laughable wages and the company they work for is doing everything they can to squeeze even more money out of them all while paying them less.
Why does this sound familiar? Oh, maybe it is because this is happening all over America. The income discrepancy between the rich and poor grows larger each year and it’s scenarios like this that are feeding it. Our nearly worthless general manger who (when you add in free food and rent) probably makes a six figure salary, eats his steak for free while looming over expense reports and deciding that two dollars for a cheap non-nutritional meal (for the employees that work hard to clean the rooms in the hotel that earns him his inflated paycheck) is NOT ENOUGH. Nope, three dollars should do. Maybe they should just gently place those extra dollars into his hotel room toilet so he can flush them down while laughing and punching them in the face.
My last day at my job is August 31st. I’m going to miss the people I work with on a day-to-day basis. But I can no longer work for a company who I do not believe in. Starbucks, for example, provides healthcare to even it’s part-time employees. Google donates $50 for every five hours an employee volunteers. Quicken Loans, located in Detroit, partnered with area businesses to offer incentives to employees willing to move to the city, including $20,000 in forgivable home loans. These are the types of companies I want to work for. This is what I believe in. An employer should take care of it’s employees because without them the business doesn’t run. And even from a financial standpoint it makes sense… happy employees will go above and beyond to create happy customers. You save the costs associated with a high turnover rate. And you retain a great, well-trained staff. Yes, I will miss my coworkers, but my time with this company is done. I refuse to feed any longer into a construct I disagree with on every level. In fact, I am actively rooting for the demise of this this management company and each and every one that shares in it’s outlook and policies. I know that corporate greed is being discussed more often in the media and elsewhere and I feel (hopefully not too optimistically) that the winds of change are blowing in. I hope they blow this company right off the map.