5 Point Café owner Dave Meinert believes union members - who've lately been blamed for wrecking state budgets , inhibiting job growth and assaulting Tea


Nine Seattle Restaurants Offer Discount to Union Members

5 Point Café owner Dave Meinert believes union members - who've lately been blamed for wrecking state budgets, inhibiting job growth and assaulting Tea Party members - deserve a 15 percent break.

Meinert's offering the discount to union members throughout the month of May. Thirty workers have already redeemed the offer.

"This is not a marketing scheme as much as a thank you," says Meinert, who counts teachers, nurses and construction workers among his regular customers. "I was just watching news coverage of Wisconsin, bashing workers for America's woes, and it pissed me off. I thought 'I've got to do something nice for them.'"

Meinert's recruited eight other Seattle restaurants to join him in the extended May Day salute: Caffe Vita, Local 360, Via Tribunali, The JuJu, The Crocodile, Moe Bar, Big Mario's Pizza and Proletariat Pizza will discount food-and-beverage checks for guests who can provide proof of union membership. Rudy's Barbershop is offering the same deal on products sold in its shops.

Meinert's urging still more local businesses to sign on.

"It makes a statement that we don't blame workers for the evils of the world," he says.

The restaurant industry has traditionally not been especially hospitable to unions: According to UNITE HERE, fewer than 10 percent of restaurant workers belong to a union. While Seattle waitresses were leaders in the early labor movement - the Seattle Union Record in 1900 termed activist Alice Lord's troop of fellow waitresses "the red-hottest unionists in Seattle" - they didn't leave a legacy of widespread union membership.

While most local servers, hostesses, bussers and bartenders aren't eligible for Meinert's effort to honor hard workers, Meinert says they're privy to other advantages: Many of them work for independent restaurant owners who care about their employees and strive to provide benefits without organized prodding, he argues.

"I haven't been in the restaurant industry that long, but it's not so much an industry in which unions are relevant," Meinert says. "I think unions are more about when there isn't a relationship."

Meinert clarifies the promotion isn't intended to make a "huge political statement" about labor relations and the significance of unions. Instead, he says, he hopes to show "there are reasons we are where we are economically, and it has nothing to do with schoolteachers and nurses."

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