Industry Survey Results

June 3, 2010

The Portland Restaurant Workers’ Association is developing a survey in order to understand the typical working conditions and issues for restaurant workers in the Portland area. We decided to do a test run of a draft survey for the month of April and received 37 responses from people all over the city. From this initial information, we have noticed some common trends in the industry. Below is a summary of what we’ve found so far.

From here, we will be further refining the questions of the survey and launching an outreach campaign to collect input from a larger section of the restaurant industry. We look forward to finding out more from workers in the region and working toward organizing our efforts to build unity and bring about change.

From the 37 responses we found a couple notable things:

The majority of people who filled out the survey (57%) have worked in the restaurant industry for over ten years:

70% have never received a raise at their current job:

86% have never had a promotion:

When working over 6.5 hours, 59% typically don’t get a meal break:

Less than half reported having health insurance (39%), and only 13% get paid sick leave:

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

78% have worked while sick:

These were some common practices listed in the workplace:

Routinely understaffed 20 54%
Expected to perform several jobs at once 25 68%
Verbal abuse from supervisors 17 46%
Expected to perform a job not trained for 13
Done something due to time constraint that has put your safety or health at risk 14 38%
None of the above 6 16%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

The survey also had a section for respondents to tell any stories they’d like to share. We received quite a few narratives regarding inappropriate and illegal workplace practices. Some examples were an establishment where workers were told to buy their own uniforms, as well as a restaurant where cooks have to work in extreme temperatures, doing prep work off the clock, taking tips to pay for labor costs, and also a story where someone was fired because they stood up to being verbally abused.

These trends imply that although the respondents are well-qualified and experienced in their profession, there is not much of a career ladder, pay scale, or respectable working conditions in this industry. It will be important to explore with future input why these conditions exist and what can be done about them.

Please note these trends are derived from a small sample of responses. We are interested to see if they are consistent with future responses throughout the city. Thanks to everyone who filled out a draft survey. Please look for a final version of the survey in June! Fill it out and tell all your friends!

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