When mandatory closures hit Dallas restaurants month ago, a group of Dallas restaurant industry pros began to work together as Shift Dallas to try to help the hospitality industry find a way forward. Shift Dallas’s first step involved an online survey of restaurant industry employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic to find out the community’s most urgent needs.
Now, Shift Dallas is throwing its weight behind a Change.org online petition launched this morning. The letter, addressed to Texas governor Greg Abbott, demands “basic protections” for service industry workers as the state begins contemplating how best to reopen businesses.
That spans three main concerns, beginning with paid sick and family leave for hospitality workers across the state. “A worker should not have to choose between working while sick or with a sick family member at home alone and going without food, housing, or utilities,” the group writes.
Shift Dallas is also thinking about tipped workers — as restaurant volume has dropped precariously — and non-tipped workers alike. The petition reads: “We call for the state to supplement wages to a livable wage of at least $15 an hour. Tips are often seen as charity by our guests, and are appreciated, but clearly cannot be relied upon for continuity of livelihood — especially now.”
The group also calls for more COVID-19 testing in Texas to guide any reopening. “Restaurant workers are exposed to an extremely large number of people through their daily course of work, in spaces where it is impractical, if not entirely impossible, to maintain a distance of 6 feet between other human beings,” Shift Dallas writes to highlight hospitality workers’ risk of potential COVID-19 exposure.
Updated on 4/23: Made changes to reflect current leadership of Shift Dallas