ROC: Money for Nothing, and Music Clips for Free

This week, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) released a music video of restaurant employees singing along with the original recording of the 1959 song “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong. In it, they encourage New York state lawmakers to force employers—specifically, restaurants—to pay them more money.

It’s a stark contrast to ROC’s own behavior in producing this music video, as it failed to pay royalties or even seek permission to use the artist’s original recording. (Mind you, this information is all publicly available on the website of the song’s music holding company.)

ROC’s twisted logic works something like this: When other employers pay their employees the wages and benefits required by the federal or state government, it’s abusive; when ROC neglects to pay for services or property they use, it’s no big deal.

This is hardly ROC’s first instance of blatant hypocrisy on payment for services. The organization frequently scolds the full-service restaurant industry for alleged pay and benefits infractions, while at the same time relying on unpaid part-time workers who received no benefits to collect data for its Diners’ Guide and Behind the Kitchen Door reports.

It’s the same group whose co-founder, Saru Jayaraman, writes a flattering profile in her new book of a restaurant employee named Mike who “figured out how to beat the system” with an embezzlement scheme that robbed $80,000 from his employer.

Given this lack of respect for the law, it’s no surprise that the group is part of a Congressional investigation for its  “intimidation of opponents” and “management problems.”