“Education for social justice” has given birth to street-level advocacy designed to shake down small companies and extort businessmen in the name of workers’ rights.
The New York Post’s Tom Elliot has tracked the machinations of one such fraudulent campaign, orchestrated by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) — about which I have commented here and here. On this Phil Orenstein writes:
Like a band of latter-day Barbary Pirates these self-righteous goons prowl the streets of New York targeting fine restaurants with rowdy street demonstrations, loud bullhorns and signs charging them with violations of worker’s rights, even in cases where there was not a single violation and the workers had never asked for their representation.
But they have succeeding in putting some restaurants out of business and keeping customers away from others. They have also succeeded in profiting themselves by extorting restaurant owners for large ransoms so they will leave them alone. Smith and Wollensky has paid ROC $164,000 to end the protests at two of its restaurants, Cite and Park Avenue Cafe. Conducting their guerilla operations protected as a tax exempt 501(c)3 charitable foundation they continue to dodge legal loopholes reeking havoc on New York’s fine dining establishments with impunity. Workers whom ROC claims to represent without their consent are fed up with the loss of customers and resulting loss of tips.
And who are these ROC guerillas? They are a virulent strain of young radicals schooled in social justice advocacy on our leading campuses.
The aim of one of their leaders, Harvard/Yale-educated lawyer Saru Jayaraman, who recruits protesters from her classes at New York University, is “to eliminate capitalism from the restaurant industry … [by] developing new owners … who will infiltrate the New York State Restaurant Association and ultimately co-opt it for workers’ rights.”
Another leader, Barbara Lundblad, a professor at Union Theological Seminary who teaches a class in “Preaching for Social Transformation,” organizes “prayer vigils” in front of restaurants – in Orenstein’s words, “simply a more pious means of extortion and intimidation of restaurateurs and their customers.”
Indoctrinated in the collectivist imperative on campuses, these radicals appear to have no understanding, much less qualms, about destroying a primary source of jobs for the entry-level, often poor workers in this most entrepreneurial and risk-filled industry. The public must rise up against such radical piracy, all the more loathsome when masking as phony piety, as well as against the politicized classroom from whence it comes.