Waffle House workers are protesting that they get food deducted from their paychecks even if they don’t eat.
Southern Service Workers Union
Flying chairs and arguing with customers may be commonplace for Waffle House workers, but meal breaks apparently aren’t.
Employees at the Southern dining chain see a significant chunk of change taken out of their paychecks each week for food they eat — even if they didn’t eat, The Messenger reported.
Atlanta-based chef Gerald Green, who says he barely eats at home, told the outlet that the restaurant has given him $39 for untouched food for the past three weeks — and “there’s no way he’s going to turn it down.”
Now, “I’m fed up” workers gather in lines and 13,000 signed petitions to pressure Waffle House to stay the charge.
They are also seeking other guarantees in terms of higher wages and better safety protocols amid fierce customer battles in the establishment, which have been widely reported in recent years.
“Waffle House workers across the South are fed up,” reads the petition from the Southern Service Workers Union.
“We’re sick and tired of making poor wages, the constant threat of shop violence and mandatory food deductions – whether we eat food or not while on shift.”
One server in South Carolina finds the dining policy particularly unfair, as she barely has a moment to indulge in their menu items.
“I’m usually the only server working second shift, so I’m running around and I don’t have time to eat,” said employee Summer Schoolmeester-Cochran.
“But Waffle House still makes me pay for it.”
She’s not alone, says Georgia worker Cindy Smith.
“Eighty-five to 95 percent of us don’t even eat Waffle House food,” she told Today.com. “We still have to pay for it.”
The mandatory fee also increased recently and workers were not notified, Smith claimed.
“Meal deductions were always taken, but they were only about $1.50 per shift. Then they decided to start pushing him. Every day you work now, $3.75 comes out of your check. That’s more than I make in an hour.
The Post has reached out to Waffle House for comment.
Smith also said the charge makes it difficult for her to afford the food she actually eats, and that, combined with the lack of security, makes her angry.
“At one point, probably in 2011, I was robbed at gunpoint,” she said. “Waffle House didn’t reach out and I had to work my entire shift.”
When Smith joined the recent rally outside Waffle House’s Atlanta-area headquarters, she said bosses dismissed their concerns.
“We all stood out there. We were very quiet. We weren’t rude. We were not disrespectful,” she told Dnes.
“We only sent three people to deliver 13,000 signed petitions to tell us that if we didn’t get off the property they were going to call the police and they threw all 13,000 petitions in the bin.”