LANSING — The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, an employer-side organization, reported this week that 9 out of 10 restaurants they surveyed lack the staff to either open or to meet customer demand. However, in past years, the Association opposed ballot measures that would have helped would-be restaurant staff join or rejoin the workforce.
In 2018, a group put forward a ballot measure that would have increased Michigan’s minimum wage and included tipped staff in the wage increases. Another group called MI Time to Care collected signatures to put earned paid sick time into law. Both of these ballot measures would have addressed major concerns working people have with getting back to work – low wages and a lack of sick time to care for a loved one or themselves.
The survey shows many restaurants and hotels are struggling to find workers and operate at 100% capacity. Key findings include:
- 88 percent of hospitality industry respondents are operating with inadequate staffing to meet consumer demand
- More than four out of five respondents are operating at least 10 percent below adequate staffing levels and a staggering 29 percent in the industry are operating more than 30 percent below what is needed to meet consumer demand
- Nearly 80 percent of restaurant and hotel operators reported closing early or for specific segments during the day as a direct result of inadequate staffing levels. For full-service restaurants that figure exceeds 85 percent
- 81 percent of hotels are limiting room inventory because they do not have adequate staffing to turn them over for new guests
While the the MI Restaurant and Lodging Association is only recently focusing on the challenges to ensure workers can enter and stay in the workforce, in 2018, the Association sang a different tune. Justin Winslow, president of the MRLA called increased wages, “irresponsible and dangerous,” and called paid sick time, “out of the mainstream and a trick.” The question remains to be seen if the Association will now support policies that help ensure workers can enter and stay in the workforce or revert to opposing common sense solutions to the problems their members are facing like they have in the past.