Our Work

The ROC Model

With over 10 million employees nationwide, the restaurant industry is the one of the largest and fastest-growing private sector employers in the nation. In 2007, the restaurant industry garnered over $515 billion in sales revenue. The industry continues to grow despite the current economic crisis. Unfortunately, despite the growth and profitability of the industry, restaurant jobs provide largely low wages and little access to benefits.

The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) engages in a tri-pronged model of change to build power and voice for restaurant workers. The ROC-United model involves ‘surrounding the industry’ by simultaneously:

(1) Organizing workplace justice campaigns to demonstrate public consequences for employers who take the ‘low-road’ to profitability, by violating workers’ legal rights;

(2) Promoting the high road to profitability through partnerships with responsible restaurateurs, cooperative restaurant development, and a workforce development program that moves low-income workers into living wage jobs;

(3) Lifting standards industry-wide through participatory research and policy work.

We have almost 10,000 members in several states — New York City, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Houston, the Bay Area and Philadelphia — and we’re growing.  Members in these locations lead the three prongs of our work through local Leadership Boards and committees such as a Policy Committee or a Women’s Committee. Members are trained to engage in these leadership positions through the ROC Leadership Institute. Members are also able to access privileges such as free job training and placement services, legal and organizing support, and, in some locations, affordable health care through the ROC M.D. National Health Care Cooperative.