videoJune 19 2019

A Recipe for Better Restaurant Industry Workforce Conditions

Veronica Avila

Databite No. 123

Why should you care about the restaurant industry? Data & Society Fellow Veronica Avila explores the consequences of this “alarmingly low-wage industry,” its roots in slavery and servitude, and how some employers are using the “threat of automation” in order to promote fear within their industry.

With 14 million workers, the restaurant industry in America is one of the country’s largest and fastest growing sectors; restaurant jobs now account for 10% of the nation’s new jobs annually. Unfortunately, these jobs also represent a “nexus of inequality” due to the low take-home pay of both tipped and non-tipped workers. Occupations within the restaurant industry represent some of the lowest-paid jobs in the country, with workers often earning below minimum wage.

Data & Society 2016-2017 Fellow Rebecca Wexler moderates the post-talk discussion.

Data & Society’s Fellows Talks is a three-part Databite series showcasing our 2018-2019 fellows cohort. Each talk features 2-3 fellows speaking about their work, wide-ranging interdisciplinary connections, and a few of the provocative questions that have emerged this year.

Veronica Avila is a labor rights organizer and researcher. She is currently the Strategic Research Associate with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), a restaurant workers’ center committed to improving wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce. Prior to her work in research she was a labor rights organizer, organizing with several service worker unions and the Chicago chapter of ROC. Veronica holds an MSc in Inequalities and Social Science from the London School of Economics.

About Databites

Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.