15th January 2014
On Monday, about 175 employees of the buffet restaurant in the slot-machine and electronic gambling casino in Ozone Park learned that the restaurant had been closed and that their jobs no longer existed. The casino had received plaudits when, in late October, a labor arbitrator issued a ruling that doubled the average pay of workers.
For the union makes us strong … and unemployed.
“Everything is done,” said Mariano Cano, 45, a server at the buffet for the past two years. “They just threw us out like dogs. They just gave us a couple of dollars to shut up, and that’s it.”
In October, Mr. Cano’s pay went from just over $5 an hour, plus tips for the drinks he delivered to the tables and dishes he cleared, to around $12, because of the living wage agreement.
And they never connect the dots. But Richard Epstein can.
No one should be thrilled that restaurant workers have to settle for wages of $5 per hour plus tips. But a steady job at that level is better than no job at the $12 base pay ordered by the arbitrator. The casino sought to raise food prices to compensate for the increased costs, but the law of demand applies to consumers as well. In hard times, they won’t stand for the increased prices, so the casino closed a food operation that could only operate at a loss, leaving 175 union members to scramble for jobs.