To the editor: I don't believe restaurant owners who insist they are not making a political statement when they place a 3% surcharge for employee healthcare on customers' bills. One reason is that the actual cost of healthcare bears no logical relationship to the amount of food and drink a customer consumes. ("L.A.-area restaurants adding healthcare surcharge to cover workers," Oct. 6)
Further, note the contrast with the lack of itemization of other costs of doing business. Why doesn't the bill reflect the cost of payroll taxes, property taxes or lease payments, business taxes and health inspection fees? Where is the itemization of wages, utilities, uniforms, laundry, amortization of equipment? Why is only the cost of healthcare brought to the customer's attention?
When costs increase, businesses normally raise their prices to compensate. A price increase of 3% usually passes without creating a stir. So yes, the specific surcharge for employee healthcare is plainly a political protest, no matter what the restaurant owner claims.
Eleanor Egan, Costa Mesa
To the editor: I'm sorry to see the odious healthcare surcharge has made its way to Los Angeles.
I have been mad for a while about this surcharge that many San Francisco restaurants have. Employee benefits are a cost of doing business and should be built into the prices of items sold, not sneakily tacked on to the bill after the fact.
Only surcharges that apply in special situations are appropriate; those that apply to all bills should be made illegal in that their purpose is to hide the higher cost from the consumer.
Marc Schoenfeld, Oakland
To the editor: Your article misses the point about why it's in everyone's interest to see that restaurant employees have healthcare.
If my mechanic is sick and sneezes all over my intake manifold, that's OK. But for the waiter who serves my Caesar salad, not so much.
Ellen Griffith, Los Angeles