What does it take to move the world?
Meet the individuals who represent a new guard of social justice, building a future grounded in equality for all.
Today, the nonprofit counts 11 local chapters across the country, from California to Mississippi, fighting to improve wages and working conditions for the nation's restaurant workforce. Under Siby's steady hand, ROC has helped pass higher minimum wages and the full minimum wage for tipped workers in more than 10 states, fought the epidemic of wage theft, and helped secure paid sick leave for thousands of restaurant workers. ROC has also trained nearly 10,000 low-paid workers in its CHOW program, helping graduates advance to higher-paying jobs as fine dining wait staff, bartenders, and managers. And since COVID-19, ROC has given more than $1 million in relief assistance to over 3,000 out-of-work restaurant staffers. The organization has also demanded that restaurant owners provide PPE, hazard pay, paid sick leave, and a "Right to Return'' policy to ensure laid-off workers are the first back when normal operations resume.
When the World Trade Center collapsed, Siby lost his job, and had little help in his time of need. Undocumented workers make up a significant portion of the restaurant industry ranks. As an immigrant in the industry, Siby understood what it was like to feel invisible, to feel voiceless. Although the undocumented power the industry, he knew first hand what it was like to fear a knock on the door. A fear that kept workers from speaking up for what's right or fair. So, Siby became the person he wished he had then, a voice for the voiceless, restoring dignity and hope where there is none. He turned grief into action, guilt into economic empowerment, pain into social justice.
Siby started as a cook in the kitchen and emerged a leader ready to serve.
Illustration by Agata Nowicka