Why Are We Afraid to Advocate for Ourselves?


By Marilou Halvorsen

“To say nothing is saying something. You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not.”
-- German Kent

This statement resonates with me considering recently, I alerted many hospitality leaders about a planned piece of legislature that would restrict their employee’s work flexibility and instill massive fines on owners if found uncooperative. More importantly, the proposed bill was scheduled to be written and pushed through in a short timeframe.

So, what was the response from some of the restaurant owners? Not much.

Luckily, the bill got pushed back due to the swift and harsh actions of many organizations, including the NJRHA. Still, this moment reminded me that our political climate is so sensitive, and social media so brutal that there’s a general feeling out there that you can’t advocate for yourself or your business because that would make you too self-involved or self-centered, which is a bad thing.

Owners are afraid of being targeted. They consistently share this fear with me and quite often end their sentence with, “that’s why we need you.” While I’m personally honored and flattered to advocate on this industry’s behalf, there is still power in numbers. I need members and non-members to mobilize, complain, reach out, speak up, tell their stories to anyone who will listen, and more importantly, care. We need to remind ourselves: We are the good guys.

The bill I was referring to above is called Predictive Scheduling. Whether or not it’s going to happen depends on if we have a voice in how it’s written and why we need to speak up. Currently, the planned language for the bill does not benefit hospitality employers or their employees.

I say, for every person who criticizes the restaurant industry to remember what industry has always been there for them and their community. We give to charitable causes, sponsor Little League teams, open our doors as a command center in disasters, offer your child his/her first job, reemploy our military and execute training for a re-entry population – you name it!

Stop putting us in the same category as corporate America – not all businesses are created equal.

Let’s be thankful this holiday season that this industry is here, not only for the jobs it creates, but also because we are the only industry that offers this unique gift to our communities.

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