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July 23, 2020 56 mins

Today, Cody and Robert discuss why Robert is so tired (the feds teargassing Portland every night), and we interview ROC Music City about why they are so frustrated (serving maskless people during coronavirus).


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Worst Year Ever, a production of I Heart Radio.
Welcome Together Everything, So don't don't Oh. Hi, Hey, this

(00:22):
is Cody Johnson from the Worst Year Ever podcasting you
are listening to with your ear holes. I'm joined today
briefly by my co host Robert Evans. Use your words, Robert.
H h ah. That's the sound of the tone of
the rest of this segment of the episode. Uh see,

(00:50):
that's I was gonna ask you, um a question leading
into that, but you've nailed it. You've answered my question. Um.
Katie stole H is another of our co host She
is um in the woods right now. What a concept?
What an idea that we should all subscribe to? Robert,

(01:10):
do you want to briefly explain to our listeners how
you're feeling and follow up why I feel pretty good? Well,
I feel like I haven't slept and like I'm strung
out because I passed out at seven am after a
massive adrenaline dump finally faded. Uh. And I had a
massive adrenaline dump that kept me up until seven because

(01:31):
last night, like two thousand people including a mix of
like black blocked up, you know, anarchist activists and like
local moms and dads with leafblowers started tearing apart of
Federal courtpouse with their bare hands and a skateboard. Um.
And then when the federal agents charged out and started
shooting and grenading them, they fought them back inside. I

(01:54):
saw that. I feel like I feel I feel like
I saw something about that. Uh and um. And then
the Feds were like sorry and they left. No, they
shot at people from holes, and so people threw bottles
at their hands. But then they were like, oh, they
mean business, so I guess we'll leave them alone. No.
I think now the DHS secretary the statement he just

(02:16):
made was something along the lines of, uh, if the
federal agents leave that courthouse today, they're going to burn
it down, which they might. That there's a decent chance. Um. Yeah,
I mean I feel like that's going through a lot
of the minds of UM. Any officer like law enforce

(02:40):
and officer in the vicinity of anything like this knowing that, like, well,
if we leave, they might burn it down. Now because
of that thing that happened, they know. I'm gonna be
honest with you, If the Feds actually like left the courthouse,
I I find it highly unlikely that it would be
burnt down. I think it's much more likely that people
would occupy it an attempt to start a rib restaurant

(03:03):
out of it, right Courthouse ribs, Yeah, yeah, yeah, it'd
still be riot ribs, bar Barbara Courthouse cothouse. People will
figure it out. Yeah, that's not that's not the important
thing right now. Um, So this has been happening for
how many nights? Would you say at this point? I

(03:25):
think last night was night. Like it's been going on
and on and on and on and on. Um, would
you say that obviously this this started. Um, it's all
started when the you know, the massive civil unrest across
the nation occurred in response to George Floyd's murder. Um
is uh when you say, like it's grown quite a bit. Uh,

(03:47):
ebbden flowed? Um is their their response, I imagine is
probably fueling a lot of people coming out now. It's
EBB didn't flow about like a week and a half ago.
You know, when the Feds were starting, you know, when
the fence had been coming out for a few days
and beating the hell out of people, the movement was
at a real low. EBB. You know, three hundred people
would have been a big action. It was usually more

(04:09):
like a hundred most nights, and you know, as a journalist,
those were the hardest days because you were just when
you were showing up, you were showing up to just
watch two hundred people get the fucking pist beat out
of them, Like that's that's what was happening. Is these
small crowds were showing up and trying to do actions,
and you know, they were at this point tough and
skilled with all the things they needed to do, but
they just weren't enough of them to do much and

(04:30):
they were just getting wailed on. And it was really
a bummer, um, and it was kind of driving some
of us crazy. Uh. And then the you know, the
Snatch fan video went viral and Domino Donovan Labella getting
shot in the head went viral, and then uh, President
Trump started talking about how he'd quelled the protests and
he kind of made it into he he like it.

(04:52):
You couldn't have done anything better to revitalize and bring
more people out into the streets. Like it. It absolutely
changed the game. Yeah, I um, I wonder how that
will continue. And the I guess it's hard. It's you
don't want to like apply logic to any of these
people really, um, certainly not him. Um, nope. But I

(05:15):
don't know. Sometimes you get a sense that like, well, okay,
so like they poked the bear to make it worse
so they can crack down worse. Yeah, I don't know.
It feels at this moment maybe that's where en up.
It feels at this moment like they made a major miscalculation, right,
Like a lot of this happened because this crowd of
mom showed up to protest the Snatch fans and they

(05:36):
shook offense and so the Feds tear gassed all of
these people. And one of the results of that is
that like a whole lot of just like normal, kind
of middle of the road folks in Portland have now
decided it's actually really fun to go out and fight
federal agents every night. Uh, and maybe fight the police too,
We'll see. Yeah, it's it's you get the sense of

(05:58):
that from a lot of the videos, like oh, you're
just like you've lived in like down the street and
you were like, oh, all right, let's do it. Yeah.
It was kind of like there was there was a
lot of from the more cynical members of the press
Corps when like the moms and and stuff started coming up,
there was this feeling like, Okay, you know, we've seen
this before. We'll get some huge numbers. They'll start doing

(06:19):
marches while they march around the city and don't confront
anyone because they're not gonna want to like actually commit
serious federal crimes, and then this will all fade away.
But then the moms just started committing serious federal crimes. Yeah, yeah,
they keep they keep seem to keep doing that, and yeah,
it seems to be like, okay, well if they do that,
then we got to do this. But then if we

(06:40):
do that, then that creates this image that is going
to influence other people to come out. Um. Yeah, like yeah,
if it will, if it will continue that way, or
if they will like wise up. You know, like there
are so many protests around protest are still going on. Um,
it's not necessarily national news all the time as it

(07:03):
once was. Um. But as we've seen, when the cops
don't show up to the protests and riot gear and
bother people, they don't, it doesn't turn violent. Yeah, and
that seems to be, yeah, maybe something they should consider.
You know, there are some tactical lessons for them here
because like the Portland Police headquarters is right next door

(07:25):
to the courthouse, and last night the Portland police just
let the crowd go after the Feds like they didn't
show up, they were nowhere nearby, and nobody fucked up
with the Justice Center. Everybody just kind of like wailed
on the Feds um, which was interesting, like the kind
of lack of loyalty between the two groups who had
been beating up people together for a couple of weeks,

(07:47):
but they're popular. Like the cops were like, Oh, we
actually don't like the Feds at all. We love we
love our we love our citizens. Yeah, go get go,
go get the feds, folks. It's like it's like that
bit like you like slowly like back up into the
crowd and go, yeah, let's get them fellas um. Which

(08:09):
is something that really does worry me. I am worried
that like people will focus too much on the Feds
and then be like when the Feds leave, you know
we did it, and you know there's still a big
problem here. Yeah, we'll see. I guess that's one thing.
The other thing I'm wondering because I, uh, you know,
these protests started uh in response to a lot of

(08:31):
specific things, and um, it's this when you like, when
you go to these protests, do you get a sense
that these are still like Black Lives Matter protests or
is it more just like, man, the cops they're just
awful and the Feds are here, and like this has
gotten this is ballooned into this other thing that is
driving people out as opposed to the sort of original purpose.

(08:52):
They are still Black Lives Matter protests. That's still like
a big thing that drives a lot of what folks say, Um,
it's it drives lot of the chance it's it's driven
a lot of like is a lot of white people
got out there in the first place. That said, after
fifty something nights of getting assaulted by law enforcement, there
is now like a personal dimension of not we specifically

(09:12):
hate these cops because they've been beating us up and
we don't want them around anymore. Um So, yeah, it
is it has gotten to be like after fifty days
of continuous fighting. It's not gonna be exactly about the
things it was when it gets started. But yeah, there's
I would say Black Lives Matter is still centered as
kind of the core of like if we don't get

(09:36):
these people out of our community and start spending the
money that we currently spend on them on reinvesting in
these in you know, minority communities, be Indigenous communities, black communities. UM,
we're we're we're not gonna fix any of the problems
we have, Like we have to actually like make some
real changes for those people and also for ourselves. UM.

(09:58):
And it just the thing that has gall vanized everyone
is the repeated assaults right right and sort of UM,
I think opening up a lot of people to these
to the to the end goal, the ultimate goals and
um that that are swirling around. Um, you're these are
these are the solutions to this problem that we started

(10:19):
protesting for. You're you're you're exemplifying the problems we're talking
about against us. UM. And it's almost like bringing Yeah,
it's sort of like building solidarity through these shared experiences,
building um, understanding of what those issues are and like
what what can be done about them? UM. I saw

(10:40):
there's that one guy, um, just a just a solid
brick of a human man who was attacked by cops.
There's video of him like with batons they like try
to beat and he just does not. Yes, um, and
they like, right, they spraying with maize and he's like, alright,

(11:02):
twirls around, flicks him off, and that's it. Um. He
was just a guy. Um, who's just a guy. But
everyone's just a guy. Um, But he was he had
seen how the uh protesters being were being treated um
through various avenues of reporting, and he's like, and so
I wanted to go and check it out because I

(11:22):
I think he was in the Navy maybe yeah, he
was adem yeah, and he was like, I don't like
how these people are treating the protesters. I'm gonna go
now too. And he's like, I'm gonna have a conversation
with them and talk about the oaths that we both
swore and like how they're holding up to them. Yeah.
And then and their response was that freaking video um

(11:46):
and yeah, just sort of like building um. Yeah, these
sort of collective um frustration and experience and pain um
and reaction to what's going on and uh build you know,
getting the moms out there, the MILFs as I call them, Yeah,
you do that a lot. It's it is mother's mother's

(12:07):
in love with freedom. Yeah, mother's in love with freedom.
I want to be really clear what I meant by that.
Thank you. It's very funny, goody thank yeah, um man,
it was. I just can't get over what I saw
last night, like and and some of it's terrifying because
I am fairly certain people are going to get shot

(12:30):
with live rounds at some point. Like last night, at
one point, a federal agent try to arrest someone and
was tackled by four people. Yeah. Yeah. They pulled their
friend away and knocked his helmet off, and he pulled
his side arm and started waving it at the crow.
But they de arrested there. But it's also like at

(12:52):
some point, and it was one of those things where
I was like, I'm glad this is a right, like
at least that person wasn't a cop, right, Like that
would is a cop would have shot them. That story
has has one very specific ending. Um yeah, yeah, that's
that's like part of it where it's like some of
these interactions you see like thank god these people have

(13:14):
actually been trained in like restraint and precision, but at
the same time guns, yeah, right, at the same time,
you're like, ah, I wish these people weren't here who
have been trained for like precision, you know, like weird
this weird conflicting um reaction to just like state violence happening,

(13:36):
and you're like, well, that guy at least he didn't
shoot the person for stopping the arrest, but well, and
there's like so one of the things that was really
unique about last night is the crowd finally got the
fae Lenx move right, where you get dozens or a
couple of hundred people with interlocking shields and you just

(13:56):
take what punishment the police and you keep moving forwards,
rely inching forward as they shoot you to kind of
make the point that like, you can't stop us now.
And they had leafblowers all around the sides and in
the back to blow tear gas away from the phae Leanx,
and this crowd was just like continuously marching forward under
fire while fucking um rage against the machine blared out

(14:18):
of a boom box behind them, just like fuck you,
I won't do what you tell me. A fuck you,
I won't do what you tell me. And when they
got close enough to the guys with a R fifteens,
they just started hooking bottles at him. Wow, there are
there are things happening. Yeah, God, it is some of

(14:40):
this It's like a complete breakdown of just like what
people thought, like just like it's like so many cops,
Like I thought I thought we were cops and we
can't do that, Like I thought they were to let
to throw bottles at us. Um, do you have a
lot of um contact, like any contact or interaction with
the actual like Portland Police. I mean that we I

(15:04):
was with an action on Saturday that lit their union
on building on fire. I mean like just like beyond
the observation like do you like ever did do you
ever contact them? Do you get statements from them? Obviously?
I mean one of the things that was really unique
about the Portland Police prior to all this is that
they were famously very difficult to get statements out of

(15:26):
for any reason. Really. Um, They're just a pain in
the asked to to get to talk to you, you know. Yeah.
And you know, the more traditional good journalists in Portland
like Alex Zelinski and Sergio almost um have been you know,
getting statements and doing the proper journalism stuff. Um, while

(15:49):
the the rapscallions among us. Uh, just bottles get tossed
at him. Yes, I'm familiar with your life streams. Yeah, um, okay, Yeah,
it's just it's just interesting that that relationship and like
because also like you know, uh they have arrested and

(16:10):
like beaten up journalists. Um, and uh, just that that
dynamic is just so fascinating just to see and like
even just like simple stuff just makes me really laugh
about them. The they tweeted last night the police social
media is so it's so good. Um. It's just like

(16:35):
this one thing they did last night, um, during the
courthouse uh fiasco you're talking about. Uh, just they tweeted
out randomly like hundreds of people are clogging this area
Southwest Third Avenue outside the Federal Courthouse and packing it.
This activity is being live streamed. Avoid the area for safety.
And like it's just so funny to me the choices

(16:56):
they make in like the things they want to tell
the city because this tweet went at midnight, so like
at midnight on a Monday, they're like, hey, everybody steer
clear of the Federal courthouse. Like what do you talk?
Like why bother? Who are you? Who are you telling
to to avoid the courthouse at midnight on Monday? Other
than this weird performative like by the way, Antifa's out,

(17:19):
stay in your homes. It's very funny. Um it was
very very funny. I I it would have been interesting
to see the crowd that we had last night go
up against the Portland police again because the Feds are
so much earlier. UM yeah, you get, you get like,
I don't know that they know what the funk to

(17:39):
do at this point. Um, I'm sure they'll figure out
something really really terrible. UM oh yeah, we're yeah, Like
obviously it's not over, and I'm sure the next chapter
will have some horrible darkness in it. But it after
just weeks of getting wailed on. Um. Like the last
time him before this that I really saw like a

(18:02):
real fight with the Feds. Um, other than Sunday, UM
was like the Thursday before where it had been like
seventy or eighty people who were just there was just
this line of forty soldiers shooting at like this crowd
of the same size and just fucking beating the piss
out of them. Um. And it was like it looked
like something from a fucking horonmous Bosh painting. They had

(18:23):
like this giant, this giant burning bucket they carry that's
like filled with tear gas pieces and they like ladle
it out onto the street. It looks like a fucking nightmare.
A lot of a lot of heads made out of
butts with horns and stuff, classic bosh stuff. Yeah, yeah,
a lot of a lot of butt heads. Um, but man,
they last night was real different last night. The crowd one.

(18:46):
Uh yeah, that's um, I think, and uh, you're probably
gonna go to sleep after this, so good good work,
good work, and in all that you do. I think
that that's just that's how it's going to be. Right,
You're gonna have those nights where it does feel like
it's forty armed like feds, just like against a small

(19:07):
crowd of people, and then others it's rib night, right,
it's look at look at look at all the ribs
and moms everywhere. Um there's something there was something just
really uh inspiring and powerful and joyful about that, like
the chance coming from all those moms who were like
fuck off, um and not in so many words. Sometimes

(19:29):
I'm sure they did say that, but um, there was
the mom behind me because as as we were, there
was like an hour where we were all crowded around
the court, as people were like barricading the doors with
their bodies and it was just kind of this like
I don't are people are gonna push things enough that
the Feds do come out? And you know, I was
looking around at all these mothers who you know, a
lot of them looked uncertain. They're all very new to

(19:50):
this for the most part. And then one of the
moms behind me said, I want to get a fucking
sledgehammer and break open the doors of this cord and
in she went up to the door with a kids
in block and they both started trying to kick it down. Unreal,
I swear the just some beautiful alliances being made this year. Um,

(20:16):
that's so bizarre. And uh, speaking of some alliances we've
made this year, Cody, you want to intro what will
happen after the break? I couldn't possibly want two more? Oh,
thank you so much. UM. Yeah, So we're gonna come back.
Um you'll hear Katie's voice when we come back from
the UM. And so we we will be interviewing Brenda

(20:42):
and Hayden from Rock Music City. Uh it's the Restaurant
Opportunities Center UM and talking to them about their workers,
movement for the hospitality and service industry in their area
and sort of what they do and what can be
done UM locally if you don't have the resources to
get a sledgehammer with a bunch of moms and breakdown

(21:02):
Federal Courthouse building. UM tour, so see us soon together everything,
so don't hello again. Hi. Today we are joined by
Hayden Smith and Brenda way Brant, who are both on

(21:26):
the steering committee I Believe for Restaurants Opportunity Center Music City,
which is a collection of Nashville based restaurants employees who
are advocating for workers rights within the industry. Hi, guys, Hello,
did I did I do that? Intro? Right? Is that's
the gist of what you guys do? Yeah? Yeah, that

(21:47):
was great? UM, perfect intro Katie, thank you, gosh, thanks
and goodbye. Alright, are learning? Yesterday I talked extensively about
how well I respond to positive affirmations. Uh, thank you
for putting that to practice. Guys. Yeah, we all have
our different things we respond to. For me, UM, guys,

(22:13):
according to your website, you are fighting to create a
food service industry that empowers workers to thrive, not just survive. UM.
And you have been organizing fellow workers and allies UM
to provide resources for people within the industry. Can you, um,
uh take us back to the beginning, and tell us

(22:33):
a little bit about, uh, the organization, how you got started? Yeah, absolutely,
um So, UM, I had done a little bit of
organizing around a wedge theft suit at one of my
former employers, and UM, through that started talking to some
local labor organizers and stuff that got me hooked up

(22:54):
with Restaurant Opportunities Center United, the national branch of the organization,
and UM. So you know that kind of that kind
of was going pretty slowly, and then COVID hit and
all of a sudden, everybody was out of work and
it was like extraordinarily obvious that um, nobody was going
to be there to help us because like Tennessee's unemployment

(23:16):
system was terrible, like there was just there was no
safety net for us. UM. And so like all of
a sudden, there was this huge interest in getting organized
UM and I'm met like wonderful people like Brenda here
UM who you know, shared the same interest. UM. And
you know, we built a steering committee and it started rolling.

(23:37):
UM So. Okay, So you guys had the organization had
been in existence a little prior to COVID nineteen, but
then when this hit and you saw the impact on
your community, UM, it started to become more focused on
response to COVID nineteen. Yeah. Well a Restaurant Opportunities Center
United has been around since two thousand one, UM, and

(23:59):
so I just got in contact with them. But UM,
the Music City Affiliate UM didn't get started until like
it was a it was a response to COVID nineteen.
I see, UM, So can you tell us a little
bit about the work that you are doing in response
to COVID nineteen. I believe this is your Safer Artwork initiative. Yeah, okay,
I can take this one. UM. Yeah, so, UM, you know,

(24:22):
Safer at Work to play on Safer at Home. And
we're just trying to push restaurants to basically just follow
the guidelines and do the bare minimum of keeping people
safe and not getting them sick when they go out
to eat. UM. Like we've we've had a lot of
bosses UM in Nashville just not pay any regard to

(24:44):
the capacity limits, to anything like that. So we're trying
to UM serve as a bit of a watchdog there
and watch UM watch out for that. And then also
we've been pushing for like stricter fines UM for way
and people do violate those things. UM, we had a
pretty good win with the beer board who UM yanked

(25:06):
the beer licenses of a few UM local restaurants that
weren't UM, you know, playing by the rules. So yeah,
how long were you guys shut down and out of
work before reopening? Have you seen UM have have have
any of the people that you work with or you know,

(25:26):
organized with been affected by this rushed reopening in all
the different places? Yeah, we we all have, UM a
majority of us. I actually work at a really large
venue downtown Broadway UM that decided they aren't going to
open until October UM, and they decided this in in June,

(25:46):
before our case counts started to go up. But so UM,
I brought up my issues to my to my employers
UM probably towards the beginning of March, and I was like, hey,
so if we have to shut down, saying what was
happening in Europe and Japan and UM and China and everything.

(26:07):
If we have to shut down, what's our what's our
process on that? Like? Are we going to get paid?
Because front of house workers we make to thirteen or
fifty an hour depending on our position, what's our pay
rate gonna be at? Like? Do we get to keep
our health insurance since it's employee sponsored health insurance. And
I'm fortunate enough to work at a restaurant that actually
offers health insurance. UM. And and they kind of laughed

(26:31):
at me. They were like, Oh, we're not going to
shut down, no big deal whatever. UM. And then my
last table was from Seattle and that yeah, I was like, okay,
I'm I'm done. I'm gonna like voluntarily stay at home
after that. And then like I think that was on
a Thursday, And by the next Monday, we were shut down.
And that was March is somewhere right around there, you know.

(26:54):
And then we immediately had some of the bar owners
on Lower Broadway UM, who were notorious for flouting the
laws UM, start protesting and picketing and saying that it
was their civil right to be open and to engage
in their business UM. And you know, we've called out
several bars UM in Nashville and also outside of Nashville

(27:18):
for having people sitting at the bar when it was
UM not included in UM the phase one that we
were in at the time. UM. And we've seen so
many pictures of bars that are just packed with nobody
wearing masks and now we have a higher per capita
case count than Florida. Just Davidson County our county today

(27:40):
per capita case count than Florida. Yeah, and that's of
July fourteenth. We have like a hundred and eleven cases
per hundred thousand people in Florida's less than that. So, Brenda,
You're restaurant that you work at has not reopened since then,
So you've just been without out of hank for this time,

(28:01):
hanging out on unemployment UM, which in the state of
Tennessee is two and seventy five dollars per week pre
taxes UM. So it's really imperative that we get something
passed before the end of July. So Tennessee's Cares Act,
we get our last payment on July. Because of the
way the week runs, we don't get it anything after

(28:22):
July one, and so we are cut off date, is
they um. And so that's gonna be a lot of
hurt for a lot of people, right. And Nashville is
built on UM hospitality and entertainment and tourism and none
of that is coming back anytime soon. And so Trump
came out today and said, hey, if you if you
don't like where you're at, just go find another job. Well,

(28:44):
be supposed to find another job when we have hundreds
of thousands and of people in Davidson County out of
work with with what to replace it? Right? Yeah, Cody
and I were just chatting about that before this started,
about maybe something we talked about this week in another episode.
But yeah, that whole go out, find another job, do

(29:04):
something new. Yeah, now is the time used this as
a time time And I'm extraordinarily tired of hearing that
because something that motivated me to do this is like
this is my passion, you know, like I'm a career bartender,
Like this is what I do. And I was fairly
satisfied with where I was at, um until there was

(29:25):
a major pandemic that all of our leaders handled horribly.
So like I don't I don't want to go change
industries and go like get an office job like I would.
I would not like that. Also, where are these office
jobs you're talking about? Um? So I'm curious, So, hey,
didn't have you also been out of work this whole time?
Or is your restaurant? Howd you come back to work

(29:47):
at some point? Um? I'm very curious to know what
the safety standards are like and how comfortable people are feeling.
I know people want to work, um, but our restaurants
taking care of their employees, you know. Um, so I
am still haven't been called back yet. The restaurant is open,

(30:08):
but they're calling people back in order of seniority, and
I was fairly new at the time of the shutdown,
so I'm gonna be like very last on that list.
But um a lot of our steering committee members have
been called back. And as far as how safe the
restaurants are being or how seriously they're taking it, it
seems to vary wildly. Like some places, you know, we'll

(30:31):
close down all the time and deep clean if there's
anything like close to um an exposure. And then some
places just I mean, we keep having to fight these bosses.
They're like won't even disclose that there was a case
to their full staff, like much less the public. So
um it it just it it varies well because they're
just trying to stay open. Yeah, when did restaurants actually

(30:56):
open where you guys are like, did you do way
a thing where it was only outdoor or was it
always just open for dining or right now, are really
stupid Mayor mar Garcetti is doing this like al Fresco initiative,
and I just want to punch him in the face.

(31:17):
Where it's just like, our governor made this baffling announcement
that they want restaurants and bars to stay open as
long as people wear masks and social distance inside, and
she made a statement that they don't think that they
don't think that situations like that contribute to the pandemic
at all, which seems like like madness, like like howling

(31:39):
madness to me. But I'm not a medical professional. I
don't think you need to be. That sounds like a
professional diagnosis to me. UM. But yeah, yeah, I would
love to know what that was like for you guys. Yeah,
what the what the shutdown reopening phases? I hate that

(32:00):
UM have been in where you are. We opened UM
towards the end of May, I want to say, like
around May twenty something or other. UM, and our phase
one was supposed to be like a twenty five percent
capacity in restaurants and retail and um, you know, no
gyms and bars and all of that stuff. And then

(32:22):
that went awfully because nobody really cared about it. And
then two weeks we went to Phase two and we
were there for a while, which is fifty percent capacity
and restaurants and retail UM. And I think Jim's maybe
could open partly or maybe they kept those twill phase three. UM.
But but all throughout that we saw several bars on
Lower Broadway that we're just open and partying all night

(32:44):
long every night, and and people coming in from out
of town. UM. And you know, we have some some
employees that we hear that are just like, oh, this
is a hoax and it doesn't matter. And we have
some people that are literally scared for their life that
are in the compromised that that are just taking all
of the right steps and trying to protect themselves. And

(33:06):
because because we were given guidelines and I put air
quotes around that for all of you who are on
a podcast, UM, because we were giving guidelines and not mandates. UM,
It's it's easy for restaurants to say we don't have
to comply with this UM and just risk our staff
to make a couple of bucks. UM. And it's just

(33:28):
so frustrating that absolutely that we are considered a human being. Yeah,
and that that compliance issue has been ridiculous because like
nobody wants to take responsibility for making it happen, Like
Totsha was like, all we can do is guidelines, and
the health department was like, well, we've never had to
deal with the pandemic before. The Mayor's like, it's definitely

(33:49):
one of their jobs, definitely not mine, and so they
just keep passing around the responsibility and being a very
functional society that you have that we're nailing it everywhere.
Love it. So according to with my interactions with you
guys and also UM looking over your website and everything. UM,

(34:14):
I understand that, uh, your focus is employee safety at work,
but that is a larger umbrella than just COVID nineteen,
which is the obviously the immediate emergency. UM. But I'd
love to hear you guys talk about some of the
other other things that you have been working on, um,

(34:34):
you know, rachel discrimination, sexual harassment, because these are both
huge problems within the restaurant industry that I think a
lot of people don't notice or you know, at least
aren't aware of. You know, yeah for sure, And I
can't wait for COVID to be over so we can
start organizing around all of the other parts that are

(34:56):
broken again. Because so much of it is broken. But yeah,
the racial equity campaign is something that we're, um, we're
kicking off right now. And I was doing like a
mental inventory the other day of all of the managers
I've ever had, and I think I've had one non
white front of house manager in my entire ten years

(35:17):
in restaurants. Um and uh, yet just the the hiring
discrimination and the the disparity there is is really really remarkable.
We were having a conversation in one of our meetings
about how many non white bartenders we have on a
regular basis, Like, and if you think about all the

(35:38):
restaurants you go to, how many non white, especially male,
non white male bartenders have you seen? Like that's not
something that that you see very often. And we hear
that on the bars on Broadway a lot, like if
you're not a female, you don't get a bartending job. Um.
And and it's just in and of itself is grotesque,

(35:59):
you know. Yeah, the fact that people will try to
frame that though like it's I don't know if they're
I will take not being harassed every single day at
work for like not having one of those bartending jobs,
and my heart really goes out to all of those girls,
which is why we have to also pick up that

(36:19):
sexual harassment camp campaign because it is the working conditions
down They're ridiculous. So when you guys talk about these campaigns,
can you give me a bit more some more specifics, UM,
what do you have like specific goals that you've outlined
that you're working towards. Are you uh going out and

(36:40):
reaching out to other restaurants and employees. I'm just curious
about your process and and what this looks like. Yeah, So,
I mean the first step on these is always just
like gather enough information UM about the problem and generally
share workers stories. Like we UM, we try to always
put the workers stories front and center on all of

(37:01):
these things. So we go around and just gather stories
from people who have been like UM, discriminated against in
hiring or fired unjustly and things like that. And so
we're gathering those to do a series on social media, UM,
and then through that we can really outline some of
the more like bad actors of the of the bosses

(37:23):
in the in the industry, and then we generally tackle
it on like a restaurant by restaurant or like hospitality
group by hospitality group. Basis. Um, there's one owner in
Nashville right now that, after the first round of Black
Lives Matter protest, tweeted something like they had guards at

(37:45):
their restaurant right to shoe rioters and looters. Um. And
so he put himself out there pretty concretely, pretty solidly. Yea,
he made a stance known. Yeah, well, yeah, everything you

(38:11):
mentioned a case that you just won a little little
I don't know how long ago recently with the beer place,
what reminds me of what the name of their name is.
I don't know why beer Brothers is coming to mind,
but I bet that's not the name of it. Oh yeah.
The beer boards. The beer boards in Nashville. In order

(38:33):
to sell beer, you have to have a license from
the Beer Board, but you also have to have a
license from the Liquor Board to sell liquor. Um. So,
because we live in the South and we're good old boys.
Um and so, the Beer Board had a meeting and
was trying to decide what to do with these bars

(38:55):
that were just ignoring the rules. And um I went
to that meeting in list and in on it. They
they're previous fine that they would offer was a max
of a thousand dollars and that was selling to a minor,
and so they were really like figuring out, what do
you do? What do you find these bars for flouting
a public health like a public safety law that's meant

(39:17):
to keep people alive. UM, And so they decided to
do a five day renouncement of their beer permit UM,
which doesn't necessarily shut them down. It just provides prevents
them from serving Budweiser bud Life, but they can still
serve shots, okay, okay, yeah, so underage shots are still

(39:37):
okay for a thousand dollars. So you do work with
like like city council and UH and things like that
to sort of like integrate these like the public UH
facing campaigns with UH more like policy based stuff. Yeah.
So our model of organizing is UM a workers center

(40:00):
and not a union UM, which is something we probably
should have mentioned earlier. UM. But so UM in doing that,
we try to tackle like industry wide issues, and so
that ranges from you know, UH talking to the mayor
and the beer board to try to work out what
these UM finds and punishments should be, to UM you know,

(40:21):
doing marches on the boss or you know, anything like that.
But that was one word where we did work with
UM state. How do you how does that is that
going well? I mean, what's it like working with them?
Do you find them to be responsive? UM? We have
a couple of city council members that have been just
absolutely wonderful. UM Councilwoman Sharon Harry gives the coronavirus update

(40:45):
at the top of every meeting and UH spent four
whole minutes of that one time. It's like a five
minute update, spent like the majority of it just voicing
our concerns about like workers safety and everything. UM. There's
another one, Sean Parker. It's been the liaison between us
and the health department. He's been really awesome. UM. That

(41:07):
just highlights something that we talk about a lot here.
You know, the importance of focusing on local elections as well. UM.
It's really easy to overlook them, or in the past
it has been. I think for a lot of people.
You're like focusing on making sure those people are there. Yeah.
I usually respond because it very easily could have been

(41:28):
another person who does not take this seriously. Our local
Central Labor Council UM does election initiatives every year and
focuses on labored centered candidates. There's the word that I'm
looking for, UM. And so we're working with their coalition
this year to help change some of the people that
are in office. Great, that's awesome. UM. I see a

(41:55):
note here UM about your your pressure campaigns. Can you
guys tell us a little bit of that, UM, that's
just one of the tactics that were pretty often used.
Yeah we UM. We had this campaign against a restaurant
called Tin Roof two who, like, during phase one when

(42:15):
they were supposed to be like basically shut down. UM
had had people posting to social media like pictures of
their bar just packed out, like the bar top. Part
of our phase one was that bar tops, like bar
seating wasn't supposed to be open. You had to like
get a table in all of this, and they people
it was like standing room only around the bar. UM.

(42:38):
And so we just mounted a social media campaign against them,
and like it was the fastest campaign of honestly ever seen,
Like two days later they posted to Instagram like our
bar shut down and yeah, UM. It's got to be
somewhat satisfying to see how the power of of yeah

(42:59):
like actually be effective. There, Yeah, of furious citizens who
are finally paying attention as like workers in service industry
and you're dealing with all the safety stuff. Um, anything
to people who really like I have to go get
the hall openia poppers at their fe Like, how can

(43:19):
they make that experience not the worst for people who
were working, Like obviously the advice is to stay home
and don't do that. Um, but is there anything for
people who just can't get enough of the fucking Yeah,
got out your pops. I totally love hallopenio poppers so much,

(43:41):
and I guess my advice from that would be get
it to go or to carry out, like go to
a park, sit outside with your friends where you don't
have to worry about infecting. God knows how many people
who might happen to be in that restaurant or how
many of their friends or family members that might be,
you know, uncompromised. Like we have fought against restaurants being
open for dine in since phase one because you cannot

(44:03):
wear a mask when you're eating, and it is proven
that a mask saves lives and keeps people from getting
this virus. And so you might be eating or drinking
or sneezing or coughing, and and asymptomatic carriers can pass
this virus along, and then your server touches your plate
and your cup and your dish to take it back,
or your buss or your bartender or whatever, and then

(44:26):
dishwashers wash that and it gets sprayed up in that
um water droplets in the air in the whole dishroom.
It is an inherently unsafe thing to do. And if
you can do things like as awful as it would
be right now because it's so hot, but figure out
how did you um sitting outside on a patio or like,
if you can do it safely by all means, please

(44:47):
do it. But if if there's any question that you
could potentially harm somebody else, especially if your management team
isn't taking these guidelines and these cleaning like cleaning the
restaurant and making sure that everybody has proper ppe and
hand sanitizer and gloves. We've heard of restaurants just not
providing gloves and whites to people because they can't get it.
Um Like, just be safe and and be kind to

(45:09):
people and be considering and understand that people are human
beings first that are doing a job to pay their bills,
and we are all going to struggle with that real soon.
So like a little kindness goes a long way. Yeah yeah, yeah,
yeah yeah. Well just get the food to go filled

(45:31):
some fill the water bottle up with vodka, drink in
a park that with a bird, you know, have a
nice ethical night screaming at live stock. Yeah exactly, that's
like that's a perfect way. It puts no workers at risk.
It doesn't put you at risk either. If you go
eat inside like you are also putting yourself at risk
of getting the coronavirus. There's just I mean, we've touched

(45:55):
on this here in other times. There's just no central
guidelines or consensus of truth. But like reality, basic safety
you know, in other countries, in some businesses. I just
don't know which businesses are paying attention to it before reopening,

(46:17):
doing some like really deep rethinking of their safety protocols.
It comes down to even air filtration systems, you know,
not every restaurant has the same air filtration system set up.
There are stories in China of people spreading it from
being at their table and the air conditioner brought particles

(46:38):
to other tables, and they can map it out, they
see that it was they were sitting in the vent flow,
and these are the people that were infected on that day,
And and some restaurants might have taken this time to
you know, make changes like that, updating their filtration systems.
But you cannot trust that everyone has I I mean,

(47:00):
at the very least, we need some sort of like
sign in windows saying that they've passed a checklist of
agree public safety. Here's we don't believe in the virus.
So it's fine, Like a sign that says that would
be fine with me too, Like let me know, like
you think it's a hoax? Great now, I know, Yeah,

(47:20):
Oh it's wild. There are any other things that you
guys have been working on that we should be aware
of or ways that we can support you. Um well,
if if you're in Nashville, don't go to kid Rocks,
Honckey Talk or UM or what else? What else? Rippies?
Is it COVID related or in general, don't go to

(47:42):
Well it's it's one just just good advice. But too,
that's the same owner the tweeted the stuff about writers
and looters, which and then UM also has just been
like ignoring all capacity limits. Um so, do not support

(48:03):
kid Rocks, Big dumb bar. And the owner is not
kid Rock No. UM, Now it's just a dude named
Steve Smith UM, which like as a super villain, I
wish you had a more exciting name, but very weird
to steal someone else's brand for your restaurant branding though. UM,

(48:25):
all right, I don't live in Nashville, but I will
avoid that place. Yeah, And UM check us out online
on our website and I'm sure y'all will link it.
And then we've got um Rock Underscore Music City on
Instagram and at Rock Music City on Twitter. UM, and
then we're on Facebook as well. Also you can donate,

(48:46):
um always accepting donations through the website. That's super helpful
to keep the operation running and you know, provide materials.
So one more cause that's really close to yes, UM
that we didn't really touch on is the trans community,
especially black trans women, who are murdered at just hugely

(49:08):
disproportionate rates. And um our black trans Comrade Steel wanted
to make sure that we plugged the concept of paying
trans women because like they face so much more hiring
discrimination and all of these things that we've talked about today. Uh.
And even though they've ruled it illegal to fire people

(49:31):
based on these things like in an at will state,
those rules don't even really apply. So UM, there's a
Twitter account set up with a number of places to
donate for these causes. That handle is at pay, b

(49:51):
l K, t r N S Women at pay, Black
trans Women, and UM that is that's just a great
group and really really excited somebody's out there taking up
that cause. And I just for our listeners, this will
be linked in the tweets and everything, of course, but
when you're looking for rock music City, it's r o

(50:14):
C not r o C. K uh yeah, might be helpful, Yeah, yeah, yeah,
very different. Alright, guys, well, thank you so much for
taking the time to chat with us, and uh, good
luck with everything that you're doing. Thank you for everything
that you're doing. It's very it's very important. Thank you

(50:38):
all for having us and and UM using your platform
to elevate the issues that workers are facing right now
that are being under reported and not talked about. UM
and then shining some white on some of the systemic
issues that that coronavirus is bringing up for us, and
like health insurance being tied to you place. Yeah, um,

(51:01):
and and the fact that you know who can survive
onto seventy a week pre tax nobody, nobody, So we
really need some heroes Act passed. Yeah, that to seventy
five might as well be zero, because it will have
you just as houseless in Nashville like there and everywhere. Yeah,

(51:21):
you can't live on that in any part of this country.
Are you guys getting the additional six dollars right now
from Congress on top of that? Yeah, which is why
that's so vital for it to be continued, and so
far we don't know what's going to happen. Yeah, this
is why we have to burn the country to the
ground if something else isn't past, because like that's the

(51:44):
only option. It's annihilation from tens of millions of people otherwise. Yeah,
I mean you're not wrong. Yeah, we we we are
going to need federal assistance so bad because like part
part of what has these restaurants open and violate in
these guidelines in the first place is that our industry
didn't get a bailout, like we bail out banks every

(52:07):
chance we freaking get. We bail out United Airlines every
chance we get. But because like I think seven and
ten restaurants are like a one off, like independently owned thing. Um,
they don't have the like collective power to demand these
sorts of bailouts, and so they're forced to operate to
keep their doors open. So if we don't get federal

(52:28):
relief on several levels, we're all gonna like we're never
going to get through this virus and we're all gonna
die broke in the streets. It's really to um. Restaurant
profit margins are three to five percent, like they are low.
They are not making a lot of money on restaurants.
So like they might have a couple of like especially
small mom and popera restaurants, like big chain restaurants or

(52:49):
something different on that aspect um. But with unemployment right,
like it took them two months to process mine UM
and I know some people that it's it's July who
applied to March. You still haven't gotten unemployment UM. And
and now, like what happens when they go back to
work and they're kicked off their unemployment because our governor

(53:09):
put up a form on the website specifically saying if
you got called back to work and you didn't go,
we can refuse you unemployment and and made a form
for their employers to report people who refused to come
back to work so they could kick them off their
two hundred and seventy five dollars a week um. And
you know what happens for those people who have gone
back to work and now have to close down because

(53:31):
of COVID again and because our spreads are worse or
because their employer didn't care to clean their restaurant. Are
they going to have to sit through that backlog of
unemployment again to get approved again? And how how much
like if you're already behind for a couple of months,
how much can you really hope to like live without

(53:52):
that cushion? You know? Like how far can you stretch
what you don't have? Like what is that stress and
general world is doing to your health? To right? I mean,
there's so much to unpack, but I mean speak to
your earlier point, like the majority of restaurants have a
small profit margin and the big chain restaurants, which I

(54:16):
believe quite a few of them did get a bunch
of the big restaurants that don't need it, And so
we're looking at a landscape potentially post COVID where no,
none of the small businesses with the vast majority of
the small businesses have survived. Um, and that's devastating to
think about. No one likes David Busters for their food.

(54:42):
No one likes David Busters. One likes I've never been
to David Busters. But I assume somebody chuck e cheese. Yeah,
like I just do hand sanitizer, own principle. Right now,
how does key cheese? Whether this No one wants to well,

(55:02):
I'm sure some people do want to put their kids
in those ball pits again. Um, all right, well, thank
you again, guys. This has been really interesting. Yeah, thank
you as well. It was. It was a pleasure. Thank
you again Brenda and Hayden for speaking with us today. UM.
Make sure you follow them on all those wonderful social

(55:23):
media accounts that they just plugged, and check out their website.
And you can find us at Worst your Pod on
Instagram and Twitter. You can find Katie Still at Katie Still.
You can find Cody at dr Mr Cody um, and
you can find Robert only on Twitter at I right, okay,
it's the only place. Yeah, I was going to go

(55:45):
to sleep now, and I hope everybody is wearing a
face mask, washing their hands and having a great day.
Face mask to wear your hands, That's what I said.
Wipe your eyes with Cody Cody fingers in your tear ducks, people,
get them real deep in there. All right. That's the episode.

(56:06):
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