July 26 (UPI) — San Francisco lawmakers this week introduced a proposal that would ban workplace cafeterias that offer free food to workers in an effort to encourage more patronage of local businesses.
City Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Aaron Peskin introduced the measure, which would change zoning laws so that workplace cafeterias would no longer be permitted, but would not be retroactive, The San Francisco Examiner reported.
“You can’t have an industrial kitchen in your office building,” Peskin said when describing the free food ban, which as the support of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
“Many of these companies touted the boost their employees would have on our local economy, only to provide everything from round-the-clock gourmet catering to dry-cleaning on-site,” Peskin added.
Peskin and Safai said the ban was inspired by Twitter and AirBnB, two large tech companies that are known to offer free food to employees as a perk.
Although the ban is meant to help local eateries and their employees, University of California, Berkeley, urban economics professor Enrico Moretti told Buzzfeed News that it would likely hurt restaurant workers more than help them because cafeteria jobs in tech companies tend to offer better pay and benefits.
“If we’re talking about wages, working conditions, and benefits, I think it’s likely to make things worse for workers,” Moretti said. “The fraction of workers in restaurants that are offered benefits and high wages is certainly lower than what the worker would find in the cafeteria of a large company.”
A similar ban has already been enacted since 2014 in Mountain View, Calif., another tech-heavy city in the Bay Area.
Facebook is opening a new office there in November and will be affected by the ban.