Something Fishy on M Street
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 18:02
The popular M Street restaurant Tackle Box has been drawing attention lately — not for its seafood or $6 margaritas but for its failure to properly compensate employees.
For a year and a half, the owners of Tackle Box have failed to pay three workers because they could not afford their wages — a sum close to $4,000. After the workers went through traditional routes of employer-employee conflict yet failed to receive any compensation, Workers United D.C. and members of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor threatened to protest outside the restaurant. The Georgetown Solidarity Committee joined the cause. In the face of this bad publicity, Tackle Box finally agreed to pay its workers appropriately.
Wage theft is a widespread problem in the District. When the issue cropped up so close to home, it was heartening to see over a dozen Georgetown students stand behind these marginalized workers. They recognized that action initiated by a collective community stance was attainable in the Tackle Box situation, especially given that the local restaurant was not a chain or franchise with the resources of a corporation to put up a resistance.
The victory over Tackle Box’s owners is certainly not due solely to the efforts of Georgetown students, but the very fact that the cause was taken up speaks to our concrete presence within the greater Georgetown community. The proposed demonstration never did need to come to fruition, but it did demonstrate that despite criticisms concerning the “Georgetown bubble,” Georgetown students are active residents of this community who will lend their voices to support those who have been downtrodden.
The Facebook page detailing the protest read, “We want to send a message to Tackle Box … we won’t tolerate wage theft in our community.” While these activists did succeed in that particular mission, it appears that a much broader message has been sent.