For media inquiries please contact Sian Lewis at sian [at] rocunited [dot] org or at 202-365-9122.
It’s time to do more than raise the tipped minimum wage.
Through our ONE FAIR WAGE campaign, we will be advancing campaigns across the country to pass legislation in cities and states that will require the restaurant industry to pay all its employees at least the regular minimum wage.
Due to the lobbying power of the National Restaurant Association and Fortune 500 restaurant corporations, the restaurant industry is one of the only industries that gets away, in 43 states, with not paying the great majority of people who work in restaurants — servers, bussers, hosts, bartenders — at least the minimum wage.
- Since the restaurant industry does not pay its servers the minimum wage, servers are forced to rely on tips as their wage. Their employer gives them as little as $2.13 an hour (the federal tipped minimum wage since 1991), and then takes out taxes. This leaves them with $0 paychecks, obviously insufficient to pay rent or put food on the table for their families.
- Although employers are legally required to “top off” the pay of a person who works for tips if don’t add up to at least the minimum wage, enforcement is so lax and disorganized that wage theft has reached epidemic levels.
- The restaurant industry includes 7 of the 10 lowest paying jobs in the country. In fact, people who work in the industry are twice as likely to need food stamps than the rest of the US workforce, and three times as likely to live in poverty.
- Seventy percent of people who work in the restaurant industry are women. Since a living base wage is not guaranteed, and women are instead forced to depend on tips, they frequently have to put up with sexual harassment from customers, co-workers, and management. The EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with a rate FIVE TIMES higher than any other industry.