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EXCLUSIVE: Workforce training helps NY workers know their rights

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York restaurant workers need to know their rights to better navigate their workplaces. A new report finds high rates of what it calls “occupational segregation” in the restaurant industry, which can relegate some people to lower-paying jobs.

Workers’ rights organizations are counteracting this with training programs. Alima Iskakova, a server for Exquisite Staffing, a catering company, said the CHOW training from Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is helping her.

“Since I completed this training course, I am more confident when it comes to job interviews,” she said. “I am more confident – like, when it comes to these types of interviews, plus with all my experience and the knowledge that I got from ROC United, I have a higher income.”

She was also trained in safe food handling, OSHA certification and other need-to-know information about the restaurant industry. These courses are available in several cities beyond New York.

The report also notes that, unlike training offered by organizations such as the National Restaurant Association, these courses prioritize developing restaurant workers’ power to support individual career development.

The report says racism and sexism abound in the restaurant industry. White men make up a majority of higher-earning positions, such as bartenders.

Although these training courses are helpful, Iskakova noteed that not knowing English can be a disadvantage. She said other cultural differences can make this work challenging.

“In the hospitality industry, even like when people come here as an immigrant, they don’t know the rules, they don’t know the laws,” she said. “And ROC United, they help us to do the cover letter, resume. There are certain things – like, there is a difference.”

Another challenge she encountered was the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Iskakova said her work has been interesting, but she’s got ambitions outside of food service. Along with photography, she’s a communications major at CUNY.



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