Will Tuesday's national election results have positive or negative results for America's restaurant industry? At first glance, the Republican wins would seem to be a triumph for the hospitality industry since Republicans have a long history of being sympathetic to the needs of the business community.
But yesterday's article, "What the election results mean for restaurateurs," posted on the online version of Nation's Restaurant News strikes a wary tone. The Tea Party, warns a political consultant with a background in chain restaurant operations, "is anti-Big Business and anti-immigration reform."
The consultant, Joe Kefauver, is a managing partner of an Orlando-based political consulting firm who previously worked in the government affairs office of the Darden Restaurants (operators of the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Capital Grille chains). He explains in the article that the restaurant industry has pushed for moderation in dealing with the high number of illegal immigrants who reside in the United States -- measures like transitioning them to citizenship and not turning employers into enforcers of immigration law.
"The Tea Party is more sympathetic to the 'fence builders,' the factions that advocate aggressively policing the nation's borders and catching residents who are in the country illegally," Kefauver said.
Kansas City's Judy Ancel, director of the Institute for Labor Studies at UMKC, agrees that Tuesday's elections have "set the process of immigration reform backwards," but says that the United States restaurant industry -- which has profited from the use of undocumented workers for low-paying jobs like dishwashers and busboys -- doesn't really want immigration reform.
"The restaurant industry is much more interested in keeping the status quo. They don't want guest worker programs. The big restaurant chains, in particular, want things to stay the way they are. They use undocumented workers with no crackdown. It's a steady supply of cheap labor."