Eating Responsibly

Photo by Courtney OquistThe last thing on most people's minds when they go out for a bite to eat in Orange County is whether the establishment they visit is a union shop. But with Labor Day upon us, what better time to consider showing a bit of union solidarity than right now?

The easiest way to show your union colors on Labor Day is by choosing where not to eat. For starters, don't eat at Taco Bell. Tomato pickers from Immokalee, Florida—who work for contractors who work for Taco Bell—have been trying to gain better wages and working conditions there. Earlier this year, they began a high-profile boycott of Taco Bell. Although the "No quiero Taco Bell" campaign went into hibernation in March, the boycott is still going strong. So hold off on making that run for the border.

Since the Immokalee workers only targeted Taco Bell (it's the largest corporation that buys tomatoes in Florida), it's also safe to assume that you should boycott other fast-food chains that buy their tomatoes in Florida. That means no Del Taco for you, either, vendido. Come to think of it, all fast-food chains—McDonald's, Burger King, Carl's Jr., Jack In the Box and the rest—are virulently anti-union. According to Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, there's not a single unionized McDonald's in the entire world. In the mid-1990s, the chain actually closed a Canadian franchise just to prevent its workforce from joining a union.

All of which is incredibly ironic, given the fact that most union organizers in Orange County—who routinely work 70- to 80-hour weeks—eat almost exclusively at nonunion fast-food joints like Taco Bell and McDonald's. That's when they actually have enough time to eat out. Otherwise it's ordering pizza at the union hall. On an empty stomach and a tight budget, in other words, access to cheap grub seems a hell of a lot more important than demonstrating union solidarity.

The list of OC's anti-union dining establishments goes on and on. You should avoid dining at the towering Crowne Plaza Resort, the Hampton Inn & Suites, the Hilton Garden Inn, the Hyatt Regency, the Embassy Suites, and the Homewood Suites. That's because all those hotels—which were built on free land and through generous taxpayer-funded subsidies—have refused to allow their workers to join a union. Of course, the union in question, Local 681 of the Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union, has already dropped its campaign to represent those workers, but who cares? It's the thought that counts.

So where can you eat a labor-friendly meal in Orange County on Labor Day? Unfortunately, the only actual OC restaurants whose workers enjoy the higher pay and better benefits of a union contract are at such private clubs as the Balboa Bay Club, public pokeys such as the Orange County Men's Jail, the Orange County Superior Courthouse cafeteria and Disneyland.

That's right, folks, all of Disneyland's food-service workers are union members, so if you want some labor-friendly food this Labor Day, consider dining at these fine Disney establishments, all of which are located at the Disneyland Hotel (1150 W. Magic Way, Anaheim). First of all, there's Hook's Pointe, a "slightly upscale" restaurant decked-out to look like Captain Hook's Pirate Ship and specializing in mesquite-grilled food. For hungry meat-lovers, there's Granville's Steak House, the most elegant restaurant in Disneyland, while hungry grease-lovers may want to check out Croc's Bits 'n' Bites, a cafeteria-style joint serving burgers, barbecued-chicken sandwiches, French fries and other fast-food fare.

Outside the Disneyland hotel, the pro-union pickin's get slimmer. There's the Anaheim Convention Center, so if you happen to be in the market for a convention and you happen to get hungry while you're there, you can rest assured that union workers prepared the food you're eating. And let's not forget the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, the Anaheim Hilton & Towers Hotel, and Edison Field—every single food-service worker there is a union member. Pretzel, anyone?

But beyond the borders of Anaheim, it's impossible to find a unionized restaurant. But worry not, comrades: there are still plenty of unionized food-service centers. So if you don't want to spend your Labor Day at Disneyland, with a bunch of courthouse attorneys or behind bars, we recommend you buy your organized-labor-friendly food at Ralphs, which is Orange County's largest unionized supermarket chain. Happy Labor Day!


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >