Interfering With Service. ``Open Mouth'' Sabotage

But that form of sabotage is not the final form of sabotage. Service can be destroyed as well as quality. And this is accomplished in Europe by what is known as ``the open mouth sabotage.'' In the hotel and restaurant industry, for instance -- I wonder if this judge who sentenced Boyd to seven years in state's prison, would believe in this form of sabotage or not? Suppose he went into a restaurant and ordered a lobster salad, and he said to the spic and span waiter standing behind the chair, ``Is the lobster salad good?'' ``Oh, yes, sir,'' said the waiter. ``It is the very best in the city.'' That would be acting the good wage slave and looking out for the employer's interest. But if the waiter should say, ``No, sir, it's rotten lobster salad. It's made from the pieces that have been gathered together here for the last six weeks,'' that would be the waiter who believed in sabotage, that would be the waiter who had no interest in his boss' profits, the waiter who didn't give a continental whether the boss sold lobster salad or not. And the judge would probably believe in sabotage in that particular instance. The waiters in the city of New York were only about 5,000 strong. Of these, about a thousand were militant, were the kind that could be depended on in a strike. And yet that little strike made more sensation in New York City than 200,000 garment workers who were out at the same time. They didn't win very much for themselves, because of their small numbers, but they did win a good deal in demonstrating their power to the employer to hurt his business. For instance, they drew up affidavits and they told about every hotel and restaurant in New York, the kitchen and the pantry conditions. They told about how the butter on the little butter plates was sent back to the kitchen and somebody with their fingers picked out cigar ashes and the cigarette butts and the matches and threw the butter back into the general supply. They told how the napkins that had been on the table, used possibly by a man who had consumption or syphillis, were used to wipe the dishes in the pantry. They told stories that would make your stomach sick and your hair almost turn white, of conditions in the Waldorf, the Astor, the Belmont, all the great restaurants and hotels in New York. And I found that that was one of the most effective ways of reaching the public, because the ``dear public'' are never reached through sympathy. I was taken by a lady up to a West Side aristocratic club of women who had nothing else to do, so they organized this club. You know -- the white-gloved aristocracy! And I was asked to talk about the hotel workers' strike. I knew that wasn't what they wanted at all. They just wanted to look at what kind of person a ``labor agitator'' was. But I saw a chance for publicity for the strikers. I told them about the long hours in the hot kitchens; about steaming, smoking ranges. I told them about the overwork and the underpay of the waiters and how these waiters had to depend upon the generosity or the drunkenness of some patron to give them a big tip; all that sort of thing. And they were stony-faced. It affected them as much as an arrow would Gibraltar. And then I started to tell them about what the waiters and the cooks had told me of the kitchen conditions and I saw a look of frozen horror on their faces immediately. They were interested when I began to talk about something that affected their own stomachs, where I never could have reached them through any appeal for humanitarian purposes. Immediately they began to draw up resolutions and to cancel engagements at these big hotels and decided that their clubs must not meet there again. They caused quite a commotion around some of the big hotels in New York. When the workers went back to work after learning that this was a way of getting at the boss via the public stomach they did not hesitate at sabotage in the kitchens. If any of you have ever got soup that was not fit to eat, that was too salty or peppery, maybe there were some boys in the kitchen that wanted shorter hours, and that was one way they notified the boss. In the Hotel McAlpin the head waiter called the men up before him after the strike was over and lost and said, ``Boys, you can have what you want, we will give you the hours, we will give you the wages, we will give you everything, but, for God's sake, stop this sabotage business in the kitchen!'' In other words, what they had not been able to win through the strike they were able to win by striking at the taste of the public, by making the food non-consumable and therefore compelling the boss to take cognizance of their efficiency and their power in the kitchen.

Following The ``Book of Rules''