Saturday, December 7, 2013
Why must I be a doctor or lawyer to live comfortably? I am a chef. I work hard and enjoy what I do. I love the newfound excitement in the culinary arts. That credit goes to Emeril, Bobby Flay and all the other celebrity chefs.
Culinary arts students at Southern Maine Community College learn to make gumbo. Most restaurant chefs aren’t paid enough, a writer says.
2010 File Photo/Gordon Chibroski
There is a misconception that this field has the potential to bring great riches, though. It does not, by any means, and this is unfortunate.
We pay huge money for health-related issues, legal advice, even hair care and personal trainers. Yet we have no issues shoveling food made by untrained kids paid $8 per hour into our mouths. Business owners see cooks as expendable, because they are, and therefore never pay what the job is actually worth. I blame this on the owners themselves.
They hire green so they can pay the minimum. There is no job security or motivation to perform in most cases. No passionate chef to lead or train technique. Just an assembly line of leftover baked potatoes turned into potato skins, unwashed hands and bagged soup. Mmmm -- just like Grandma used to make!
Think about that next time you sit at a big-box restaurant or local pub. Who's making my food?
Yep, that 20-year-old who just walked into the bathroom with his apron on. Then ask, "Why?"
Because he'll work for cheap, that's why. There are culinary arts graduates with $50,000 loans out there to pay, but they won't be hired here because they want $12 an hour, barely enough to live and pay off loans. Owners should be ashamed and consumers should beware, or at least be aware.
Maine workers suffer from free trade agreements
This year several new free trade agreements were passed with the nations of Columbia, Korea and Panama. These free trade agreements are just the beginning. President Obama is in negotiations with as many as a dozen countries to hammer out a deal on a Pacific Area Free Trade Agreement.
Maine people are all too familiar with the effects of free trade. Since NAFTA passed in the 1990s, Maine has lost thousands of jobs. This latest attempt at expanding free trade to countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Peru, is an even greater threat to Maine.
New free trade agreements contain language that allows corporations to challenge laws that have an adverse effect on their profit. For instance, Maine is a leader among states that have passed chemical regulations aimed at preventing exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products. Due to free trade agreements, these laws can be challenged by foreign corporations that want to sell toxic toys containing BPA.
PAFTA goes a step further by explicitly limiting governments' abilities to regulate banks, hedge funds and insurance companies. It also has provisions to strengthen monopolies on prescription drugs and make it harder to regulate drug prices. This will mean higher prices and less access to medicine.
I want to live in a community that is free of toxic chemicals and that provides quality health care for all its people. Maine has made great strides on both of these issues. I fear that the gains Maine has made and the potential for further progress could be undone by free trade and the greed of multinational corporations.
I encourage my fellow readers to join me in contacting Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Ask them to oppose PAFTA and to support our state's right to pass ground-breaking chemical policy and other reforms.
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