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HotelRED Gets Perfect Score in Just Dining Guide

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Posted: 3:57PM November 7th, 2017 | Comments

The Just Dining Guide is a guide to employment standards in restaurants in downtown Madison, WI. The guide is produced by the Workers’ Rights Center (WRC) a non-profit workers advocacy and educational organization, and the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin (ICWJ). The purpose of the guide is to help restaurant customers make informed decisions while dining out in Madison.

The guide highlights the issues with working conditions and rights for restaurant workers, defines what conditions a just restaurant has, and clears up some of the myths surrounding the industry. According to the guide, restaurant jobs have some of the lowest average annual wages, the highest incidences of worker rights violations, and racial and gender discrimination is rampant. These widespread conditions often go unnoticed by the public, so the guide is trying to shed light on the businesses that are doing things right.

In the main section of the guide 104 restaurants in central Madison are scored on six specific conditions. The restaurant’s staff participated in a survey focused on what they offer employees, and were awarded stars for their ‘just’ policies. A ‘perfect score’ is six stars. You can read more about the specific methodology in the guide.

HotelRED, a 2017 MPower Champion Business, earned a perfect score of six stars for their restaurant and bar The Wise. This means they meet the guides requirements of offering a non-tipped wage of $9.00 or over, and a tipped wage $3.62 or over. It also means they offer health insurance, paid time off, retirement savings options, and sick day pay to full-time hourly employees. Finally, it means their policies are in writing and employees are aware of them.


I talked with HotelRED Director of Operations Seth Blanchard to learn more about how The Wise received this distinction.


Lorenza Zebell: Why are restaurant worker rights important to HotelRED?


Seth Blanchard: All our employees our important to us and we want to create the best possible environment to work in. Offering competitive wages and employee benefits packages help us to obtain the best and brightest and maintain that wonderful work environment.


LZ: How does having just policies and benefits affect employee outlook and/or company culture?


SB: It just adds to the positive culture we have. Offering our employees the ability to save for their future, obtain insurance coverage, and have paid time off really help to facilitate a happy and enjoyable work culture.  


LZ: Why do you believe so many employers are hesitant to offer these benefits? How does HotelRED justify the costs that come along with these policies?


SB: I think the two biggest reasons are cost and employee turnover, but if we can keep our employees longer with some of the benefits we offer it offsets the cost of high turnover. We are also very fortunate to have a very supportive management company to assist with our benefits program.


LZ: Do you have a story you'd like to share about a specific restaurant employee and how the benefits you offer helped them?


SB: We had an employee whose daughter was sick and had to take off one of her shifts that week, with the time off that she had accrued she was able to take care of her daughter without the hit to her paycheck.


We encourage anyone who cares about worker’s rights to patronize The Wise and the other recognized businesses in the guide. They really are walking the Big ‘S’ Sustainability talk!


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