That Olé Olé Lawsuit Is Just the Beginning

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Yesterday the news came down that workers from Andersonville's pan-Latino Olé Olé filed a federal a lawsuit against owner Regina Pavone for alleged misappropriated tips and unpaid wages, the latest escalation in a long-simmering feud between labor and management.

The timing is interesting. The plaintiffs are members of the local chapter of the nascent Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a national food service workers' rights organization that consolidated here in the summer of 2007, and the lawsuit seems like a prologue to a summit the group has scheduled for Tuesday during which they'll release Behind the Kitchen Door: The Hidden Cost of Low Road Jobs in Chicagoland's Thriving Restaurant Industry, what it's calling "the most comprehensive report ever conducted on the state of the restaurant industry in Chicagoland, and its implications for the region's economic development, public health, and working conditions."

That's all they're saying about the report for now. But ROC, which was founded by former employees of World Trade Center's Windows on the World, released what a similar report in 2005, Behind the Kitchen Door: Pervasive Inequality in New York City's Thriving Restaurant Industry (PDF), that contrasted NYC restaurants that take the "high road" to employee relations with those that took the "low road."

Wonder which Chicago restaurant will be positioned as an example of the latter?

Last summer, In These Times profiled the Chicago chapter of ROC.

The summit starts at 9 AM Tuesday at Junior’s Sports Lounge, 724 West Maxwell Street.

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