Labor and Economic Opportunity
Chef Manager in Burton, MI
I start work at 6 a.m. Today I left at 5 p.m. It’s the story of my life every day.
I work in the foodservice industry as a chef manager in a cafeteria for a corporate catering company. I’ve worked at this company since 2006 but have been in a salaried manager role for the past five or six years. I make $42,000 a year, and for somebody with no formal education or training that’s a decent living. I’m 39, and most of the people I know with similar incomes are in a skilled trade or at least have an associate degree. I got where I am through hard work.
During peak times like the holiday season, our company does a lot of catering events. In the past, there were times I worked 16- to 18-hour days through the holidays. Manager salaries are already factored into each cafeteria’s budget. When we get busy, or someone calls off work, managers have to pick up the slack. At my work site, we have high employee turnover, so I often do their work in addition to my own. Those days tend to be about 14 hours long.
I dedicate a lot of time to my work. I’m married and have five kids who aren’t happy I’m gone so much. While I rely on my husband for a lot of things, I try to keep pace with their active lives and give my family the time and attention they deserve. By the time I finish cooking dinner and maybe washing a load of laundry and taking a shower, I’m falling asleep on the couch by 9 p.m. Then I wake up at 3:45 a.m. the next morning.
Overtime protections would positively impact every area of my life. It would provide an incentive to my employer to not have me working constantly, which would mean more sleep and more opportunities to be with my family. I lead a modest lifestyle. I live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment and drive a mid-level Ford. I’m thankful for the money I earn. But, if I were actually paid for the overtime I put in at work, my family would be doing so much better.