Michael A. Evans: Group’s harassing tactics hurting U.S. restaurants
The local restaurant scene is second to none. But a union front group is using tax dollars, support from universities and funding from unsuspecting charities to tarnish the reputations of our great restaurants.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center — a self-described anti-capitalism fringe group with ties to the Occupy movement — is trying to smear the local restaurant industry with baseless claims of widespread discrimination and worker mistreatment. Unfortunately for us, ROC has decided to set up shop here in the Chicago area.
ROC has fooled philanthropic organizations like the Chicago Community Trust and even the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago out of thousands of dollars. And ROC is partnering with the University of Illinois on a “workers rights” conference later next month.
How is a group like ROC getting so much support from such community leaders? The old bait-and-switch.
ROC was originally formed in New York City in the wake of 9/11 to assist workers formerly employed at Windows on the World, a restaurant that sat atop the World Trade Center, in finding new jobs. While the group leans heavily on this storyline and a “worker training center” guise when soliciting funds, its noble 9/11 efforts were traded long ago for tactics that are far from upright.
Today, funds go toward protests and the organized harassment of restaurants and their customers. ROC members have stated that they choose their unfortunate targets based on their public relations value. So in true Occupy fashion, if you’re successful, look out because ROC could be coming for you.
In metropolitan Chicago, there are more than 18,000 restaurants that provide jobs to more than 298,000 individuals. We can’t allow our restaurants or the jobs they support to be subjected to the same ROC schemes that have threatened good businesses around the country. Our region’s vibrant restaurant community is too essential to our culture and local economy.
As ROC continues trolling for funds from lawmakers and philanthropists, we can only hope that those being targeted look beyond ROC’s carefully manufactured facade and see the organization’s track record of spending the hard-earned money of others on destroying legitimate businesses and threatening restaurant jobs.
Michael A. Evans is president and CEO of the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce
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