Partnerships between Labor and Employers with Livable Wage and Equity Commitment Will Lead the Economic Recovery

Partnerships Will Support Unemployed Service Workers

CALIFORNIA – Julie A. Su, California Labor Secretary, announced two new public/private partnerships to serve thousands of unemployed service workers, as well as struggling California hotels and restaurant owners. One Fair Wage and the Hospitality Training Academy are spearheading two new efforts to restart the economy—both first of their kind in the nation. In partnership with the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency and local workforce development boards, the initiatives support workers and high road employers who make a commitment to ensure livable wages and increased equity for their employees as they bring people back to work now as well as when they are fully reopened. The commitment will further spur the economy allowing workers to earn living wages, provide for their families, and contribute more fully in the economic recovery.

“This pandemic has further exposed the inequities in our economy and society,” said Su. “We need to build bridges as we rebuild the economy—bridges to high road jobs with fair wages—and support both working people and employers who view investments in the workforce as essential for their business’ success. Both the High Road Kitchens Initiative led by One Fair Wage and the UNITE HERE Hospitality Training Academy’s Serving Our Community Initiative keep workers employed during this trying time and exemplify how we must rebuild our economy—through partnership, inclusion, and a commitment to quality jobs that lift families up.”


High Road Kitchens initiative provides an opportunity to build a new, more equitable, sustainable service industry for all workers. This first-in-the-nation, statewide initiative provides grants and subsidies to independent restaurants who commit to equitable wages and employment practices to re-hire their employees and re-purpose themselves as community kitchens. These venues commit to providing food on a sliding scale to low-wage workers, health care workers and others in need who are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating restaurants receive an initial grant from a combination of government and philanthropic funds, and then with the support of the program are able to self-sustain as a result of a system in which revenue from paying customers helps to subsidize free meals for their fellow community members.

HRK launched April 24 in San Diego, with over seven cities across California, including San Jose, Monterey, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco, coming on line in the next few weeks.

“We estimate more than one million service workers in California have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis and are struggling to make ends meet,” says Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage. “Employers in our industry are also struggling, especially small business operators that do not have the same access to capital as big business. And we’re seeing race and gender inequities among workers and business owners compounded in this moment. The good news is that what’s good for workers is the same thing that’s good for restaurants now — exploring sustainable business models that will make us all more resilient for the future. The High Road Kitchens program seeks to provide relief while also helping to move the industry to a more equitable future.”


“I opened my restaurant because I believe in the power of community – to create well-paying, sustainable jobs, nourish our neighbors, and build lasting, meaningful, relationships,” added Andrea Borgen, a high road employer and owner of Barcito in Los Angeles. “I’m thrilled at the prospect of taking this mission a step further, in a time when our community needs it most, and look forward to scaling our efforts, and our impact.”

In addition to receiving support from the State of California, the High Road Kitchens Program is receiving funding from the City of San Francisco, and the Workforce Investment Boards of the City of San Jose and San Diego County. These Workforce Investment Boards are part of CA’s public workforce system – a statewide group of 45 locally led workforce boards who provide a wide range of employer and job seeker services including the Americas Job Centers of California. On the private side, the program is also being supported by the Haas Sr. Fund, the San Francisco Foundation, DMB Enterprises, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and others.

Participating restaurants include Alta Adams and Barcito (Los Angeles); Mayahuela and Hook and Ladder (Sacramento); Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant and Supercocina (San Diego); Flour & Water, Namu Stonepot, and Nopalito (San Francisco); Luna Mexican Kitchen, SP2 (San Jose), Julia’s (Monterey) and Obelisco and Alamar (Oakland).

High Road Kitchens is a project of the One Fair Wage Campaign and its RAISE (Restaurants Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment) network of high road employers;  the Cooking Project; and Robert Egger, the founder of DC Central Kitchen. For more information, visit

Serving Our Community

Dedicated to improving the skills of the hospitality, food service, and tourism workforce, the Hospitality Training Academy provides quality apprenticeship and training to upskill current workers and prepare underserved individuals for employment. Located in Los Angeles HTA is a Taft-Hartley/labor-management partnership between UNITE HERE Local 11 and its contributing employers.

The Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) was awarded a regional master service contract by the State of California, for use by local entities in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties to deliver high-quality food, safely prepared and delivered to people impacted by COVID 19, including low-income seniors. The project, Serving Our Community, is an initiative launched by the HTA, UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers’ union, and many of its employers. The partnership between the HTA and the union is uniquely positioned to convert industrial-sized kitchens and laid-off trained culinary and cleaning staff into a food-delivery system that enables local governments to feed tens of thousands of people in need. The City of Los Angeles has already contracted with Serving Our Community, other local governments are expected to follow.

“We run trainings with culinary and cleaning staff on additional protocols with special COVID-19 disinfection training,” shared Adine Forman, Executive Director of the HTA. “It is critical now, more than ever, to ensure that anyone preparing food for our most vulnerable can do it in a way that keeps themselves and the people they are serving safe, including daily temperature checks and completing questionnaires for all staff in the kitchen.”

“Our members are trained professionals, and we see this as an opportunity to use the massive kitchens that our employers have and put them to good use,” said Susan Minato, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Chair of the HTA. “Our members are proud to share their skills and take proper and safe care of the public in need, much like they take care of guests in the good times.”

“Serving our Community is a win-win for the state and for the region; tourism is one of the largest industries in Southern California. Putting people back to work is the first step to bring back the economy of the region,” said Minato.