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Cooking up occupational injustice: poor wages and working conditions among San Francisco's chinatown restaurant workers.

Salvatore AL; Lee PT; Liu SS; Chang C; Gaydos ME; Minkler M; Baker R; Bhatia R; Krause N
APHA 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition, November 6-10, 2010, Denver, Colorado. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 2010 Nov; :230022
The restaurant industry is a major employer of immigrant workers in the United States. In many areas, such as the Chinatown District of San Francisco, food establishments are the largest single employer of Chinese immigrants. Little is known, however, about the working conditions facing ethnic Chinese restaurant workers. In this presentation we will share results from an ecological, Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) study of restaurant working conditions and worker health in San Francisco's Chinatown. We will describe the study's community-university-health department partnership and restaurant workers' involvement in the study development and interpretation of results and present findings from the study's survey of Chinatown restaurant workers (n=433). Survey results indicate that Chinatown restaurant workers routinely experience multiple issues of occupational injustice including low wages, "slow pay, no pay", tip theft, and lack of breaks, paid sick time, training, and other benefits mandated by federal and city policy. Furthermore, findings indicate that many Chinatown restaurant workers conduct their work in potentially harmful physical and psychosocial environments. Work place hazards such as intense heat and slippery floors and related occupational injuries were commonly reported by study participants. Stressful working conditions, unfair treatment by employers, and incidents of workplace violence were also frequently reported. The partnership is currently developing strategies to address the occupational injustices documented by this research. Advocacy, policy change, and other actions carried out or being discussed by the partnership, including restaurant workers, to promote greater justice for restaurant workers in Chinatown will be described.
Sociological-factors; Health-hazards; Risk-factors; Humans; Men; Women; Training; Food-services; Food-handlers; Physiology; Physiological-effects; Psychology; Psychological-effects; Hazards; Demographic-characteristics; Environmental-hazards; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Heat-exposure; Fall-protection; Injuries; Stress; Workers; Work-environment; Violence-prevention
Alicia Salvatore, Stanford University, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Medical School Office Building, 251 Campus Drive, MC5411, Stanford, CA 94305
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APHA 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition, November 6-10, 2010, Denver, Colorado
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University of California Berkeley
Page last reviewed: November 6, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division