Restaurant Workers Get Free Lessons in Financial Management

Discussion
Aug 02, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

It’s hard to make ends meet when there’s not that much in your paycheck to begin with. But for many low-wage workers in fields such as foodservice and retail, that challenge
is made even more daunting by a lack of understanding on how to manage finances.

A program between a nonprofit immigrant advocacy group, Casa de Maryland, in Silver Spring, and Washington, D.C.-area Pollo Campero franchises provides workers at the Guatemalan
chicken restaurant chain with free financial management classes to help them obtain the knowledge they need to successfully establish a credit history, rent an apartment, buy
a car or pay for further education.

An article in the Washington Post sourcing the Pew Hispanic Center said 22 percent of Latinos do not have a credit history and 42 percent do not use banks or credit unions.

“This is a large number of people who are carrying their money around in their pockets,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of Casa de Maryland.

Many Latinos, especially undocumented workers, fail to open bank accounts and establish credit because they do not know the requirements for doing so. “All you need is a tax
identification number or a passport,” said Claudia Rodriguez, a financial literacy teacher at Casa de Maryland.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the Casa de Maryland/Pollo Campero financial management education program? Do employers who pay low wages
(near or below poverty level) have a responsibility to their workers to provide information on social services and other programs that can help them make do with the limited financial
resources they have?

– George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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8 Comments on "Restaurant Workers Get Free Lessons in Financial Management"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

My own questions were answered at the end of the article when it was pointed out that the lessons include instructions on how to avoid being fooled. Trouble is, banks and their staff – at least in the UK, wouldn’t dream of making a judgement about the US – are paid to SELL, SELL, SELL and are not always either properly trained or sufficiently ethical. Accepting that life cannot exist without banks, and commending the company for arranging the classes, it is particularly important that they put things into perspective.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

It seems to me to be a bit of a stretch to expect employers to teach life skills. There is enough difficulty in today’s employment market just teaching work skills and attempting to instill a work ethic.

It would seem to me that teaching those things carry over in the way we live our lives outside of work as well. I learned much about how to take care of life outside of work by what I was exposed to at work.

Corporate responsibility is not, and can not, be a replacement for personal responsibility.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

I agree with all of the above. When it is some small chicken restaurant teaching its low wage employees the A-B-Cs of financial management, we call it being a good corporate citizen. When Wal-Mart does about the same thing with its low wage employees, we call it “cost shifting.”

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Employers aren’t responsible for helping to educate their staff. But providing for their education might help the employer if the employees’ lives become better. There might be reductions in turnover, lateness and absenteeism. For customers and fellow staff members, an employee undergoing less personal stress will probably have a better presence of mind to be pleasant to deal with. In stores with good morale, the staff frequently sees the group as a “family” and “families” do better when their members are less stressed.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Amen, but — that depends…

…on what the “help” is that the employer is offering.

To employers like the Pollo Campero franchisee cited, giving the education to (presumably) legal immigrant workers that let’s them maximize their resources is not only admirable, but as Mark and Al pointed out, makes good business sense. This approach is the path to continued “bottom-up” driven prosperity in America. These employees will not only be more loyal and productive, they will also have a much better chance of getting their own piece of the American dream.

On the other side are employers who instruct illegals in how to get free social services in lieu of giving either the wage or knowledge to make them self-sufficient. These employers commit two sins — one against their employees by guaranteeing that they remain dependent. The other against you and me for pillaging our tax dollar supported social services to subsidize their labor costs.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 7 months ago

One of our businesses is providing the Unbanked with a bilingual, inexpensive way to pay bills, transfer funds, and use Stored Value Cards (paycentersusa.com). Our experience is that most of our customers are Unbanked because they can’t qualify for an account — especially since the Patriot Act took effect. I spoke to a Bank of America executive just last week on this topic, and was told, “People come in here with a Mexican Consulate Matricula card, a drivers license they bought on the street, and a Social Security number they got off the Internet. We just point them toward the door.”

Establishing credit without a bank account is impossible, so the idea of establishing credit with “a tax identification number or a passport,” as Claudia Rodriguez stated in the article, is questionable at best.

For legal Latinos, the program offered by Casa de Maryland and Pollo Campero sounds great. But for the many illegals who are forced to take low-paying jobs like those described above, the program is not useful.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 7 months ago

I agree with Mark on this one. There is no responsibility on the part of retailers, which starts to imply an obligation, and we don’t want to go there. Next thing you know, the government will mandate it. But, it’s an enlightened thing to do and should help in all the areas mentioned above.

Traci Ellis
Guest
Traci Ellis
15 years 7 months ago
From my perspective (full disclosure: I’m a devout Christian assessing this situation from a biblical perspective), I believe that those of us who “have” (including employers) have a responsibility to help those who “have not.” Employers that do certainly have a huge opportunity to establish themselves as an “employer of choice” among low-skilled workers, and I applaud such companies. Assuming that low wages also mean less than optimal working conditions, anything these types of employers can do to increase the quality of life for their employees will benefit them in the long run. A very short-sighted view might be that to help such employees improve their lives would lead to higher turnover because as the employees learn and grow and can make better, more informed decisions, they might also have better employment opportunities. While it is true that as I can do better, I will do better, I’ll certainly be loyal to my employer while it is helping me to do better, and even when I move on to greener pastures, I’ll be recommending to… Read more »
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