Tattersall front of house worker Krystle D’Alencar sees a massive disconnect with public statements admonishing the murder of George Floyd while at the same time mistreating workers.
From an email June 3rd sent by Tattersall co-owner Jon Kreidler.
“The murder of George Floyd has been devastating for our community in so may ways and ensuing events that have unfolded over the past week have been even more tumultuous. The police that killed George Floyd must be brought to justice. The Minneapolis Police force and their procedures and mindset must be overhauled. The country needs to finally wake up and realize how much institutional racism exists in our country and actually start making changes. The citizens must be allowed to protest and let their voices be heard. We need to protect our community and each other from those looking for destruction. The city, and the black community, in particular, need time to heal, but more importantly, need real change.”
D’Alencar has been at Tattersall for 5 years, joining the staff only months after it was opened. Like many in the hospitality industry Tattersall closed in March due to the coronavirus. It was their understanding that everyone would have their jobs back, likely with less shifts then before. The communication from the owners was scant with only three email updates over the summer.
Eventually as the governor announced that restrictions would be lifted for bars and restaurants, the Tattersall general manager asked for people’s availability, announcing a staff meeting and also attached a COVID preparedness plan. They were planning to open again in July while beginning to rehire folks in June.
Upon receiving the management’s plans for reopening, front of house workers began to respond, worried that none of the plans were made with their input. D’Alencar noted that the plan looked as if “they copied and pasted from the state’s website.”
The front of house staff has a strong culture of cooperation. In the past when the staff was mostly white and male, the staff put it open themselves to diversify the taproom staff. Thanks to their efforts 7 of 18 are POC, while the management staff is all white.
On June 16th the Front of House staff sent a letter in part stating,
“There have been vague references made to updated changes to the logistics of the cocktail room amidst COVID-19, but no concrete rules of conduct, specifics of PPE being provided by Tattersall, or protocol. Waiting to have a discourse about these parameters on June 24th, after asking for availability, is negligent and leaves no time to address staff concerns. It is unreasonable for Tattersall management to ask staff to provide preferred availability without discussing the active steps and material changes being implemented to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in the cocktail room.”
Also in the letter was a “list of appeals”
- We need the meeting that was originally set for June 24th at noon via Zoom to come before we give any individual availability.
- We do not want a hierarchy or seniority-based system for this hiring back process.
- We need balanced compensation for lost wages and new health risks.
- Transparent and clear logistics and operations procedures.
- Streamlining reservation processes with neighboring businesses.
- NO POLICE PRESENCE AT TATTERSALL. (A particular concern for BIPOC staff and patrons)
- Phasing the opening process further.
- New policy for managing racist/inappropriate behavior.
- Material action from management and from Tattersall
The letter ended by saying,
“We’d all like things to return to normal soon as possible, but that isn’t a reality we can hold much stock in presently. This is a different business. We’re all changed by the past months of global and local events. We’re all hesitant about the newness of it all, but take courage and find solace in the community we’ve worked to build and uphold. We want to communicate as a group and not be dictated to. We were led to believe that the staff is what makes Tattersall special, but when it comes to making plans, we weren’t consulted – plans that will affect us all directly and in different ways. We understand oversights happen, but let’s open this discourse to a larger arena and have a conversation as a company.”
The letter was signed by 17 of the 18 front of house staff.
In response management stated in part that,
“We also really took your comments on not wanting a hierarchy or seniority-based system in place, combined with the need for more diversity in our hiring practice to heart, and want to start making changes to both of those immediately. After we have the opportunity to go through our new processes, safeguarding plans and discussions on other ways to improve Tattersall overall, we plan on using the meetings next week as an opportunity to discuss everyone’s desires to continue working at Tattersall. We are going to be bringing in more outside candidates as well to help improve diversity. New regulations on reduced capacity means that we will be bringing back less people. We are not planning on this changing in the near future. Service will be different as well, and the new process might not fit what people are used to or are looking for. Please view the meetings next week as an opportunity for an open discussion followed by an interview process where both sides can figure out if there is still a good fit for the new path going forward. We will need to make more thorough changes in regards to hierarchy and seniority but those changes will happen once we have the new staff in place.”
D’Alencar argues that the language around rehiring is clear retaliation. It also suggests that in order to increase diversity, staff will need to be let go. Another ominous warning.
In response, workers chose to begin a unionization drive. Workers presented the owners with their letter for union recognition this last Wednesday. At 10pm Thursday night the owners informed workers that they would not recognize the union.
For the Tattersall front of house staff, union recognition and the subsequent contract is the “only way we will feel protected,” said D’Alencar. For co-worker, Alex Gomez this is about “change in the whole industry not just for Tattersall.” Ultimately for D’Alencar, if the business model is about squeezing more profit from workers then the business model has to change.
The owners could not be reached for comment.