OPINION: From the picket lines to Nightmare Kitchens – Shut it down!

UAW Local 2250

Have you ever seen Nightmare Kitchens? This TV show featuring Chef Gordon Ramsey just kicked off a new season in September, a few days after the UAW (United Auto Workers) began its Stand-Up Strikes against the Big 3 automakers.

The show focuses on Chef Ramsey as he tries to help restaurant owners revive their business. Most of these restaurants have massive flaws in their operations. These flaws range from trouble retaining employees to rotten food and unsanitary conditions. Of course, the owners of these eating establishments have been busy trying to keep these problems hidden and their restaurants in business.

This is where I noticed that there were many things in common with this show and the current strike by the UAW against the Big 3.

Like a nightmare kitchen that keeps food past its expiration date but does not want anyone to talk about it, the Big 3 CEOs would prefer to avoid the topic of their oversized paychecks. From GM CEO Mary Barra and her $29 million compensation package to Stellantis’ Mike Manley and his $56 million last year while he was not working for the company. When Gordon Ramsey finds rotten food, he normally goes ballistic and insists the problem be corrected. The UAW has exposed these obscene pay packages and insists that they be addressed.

Often, Chef Ramsey points out that a dirty and unsanitary restaurant violates the promise of a healthy meal and safe environment necessary for the company to succeed. Job security is an illusion if promises made turn to promises broken.

The UAW has made broken promises the centerpiece of its strike. Autoworkers were promised that sacrifices made in the Great Recession would be returned when the automakers returned to profitability. Those promises were broken when executives and shareholders returned to pre-crisis compensation levels, but workers’ wages were left to stagnate.

Invariably, Gordon Ramsey finds failing restaurants have an issue with employee turnover. Poor treatment and low wages are often the culprits. Even after returning record profits the Big 3 have the same issues. “Temporary” workers have been kept in that status for years, long after their performance warrants permanent status. The low pay for temporary workers results in problems maintaining and hiring workers, just like troubled restaurants.

Occasionally, a nightmare kitchen refuses to resolve the issues Chef Ramsey brings to their attention. In the same vein, the automakers have refused to address some of the problems raised by the UAW. It is at this point that the UAW and Gordon Ramsey have the same solution. Gordon’s tag line for this situation is what the UAW has been forced to do – Shut It Down!

If history is any guide, this shutdown benefits both the struggling restaurant and the automakers. Nightmare Kitchens can take the time to resolve their issues and resume operations with a more efficient and enjoyable restaurant. The automakers can return to their standard as a business that helped create the Middle Class while supporting millions of jobs in related industries throughout the American economy.


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