Media Release: Restaurant Industry Supersizes Worker Injustice

Media Release Contact: Susan Berryman-Rodriguez , (404) 222.0030

Washington, DC, Feb. 15, 2012 — 9to5, National Association of Working Women joined the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and other organizations to release a new report, “Tipped Over the Edge,” at a congressional briefing today hosted by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD). The report found that seven of the ten lowest-paid occupations are in the restaurant industry which employs 10 million workers, the majority of them women. In addition to low and poverty-level wages, women restaurant workers experience discrimination, sexual harassment, occupational segregation, and lack of paid sick days and career mobility.

“The woman serving you your meal tonight may not be earning enough to feed herself,” said Linda Meric, executive director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women. “Documenting the exploitation and sanctioned discriminatory practices leveled by the restaurant industry against its tipped workers, this ground-breaking report clearly articulates the need to raise the tipped minimum wage to elevate the dignity and quality of life of all working families,” said Meric.

The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 an hour for two decades. As many as a third of all US workers – 35 to 46 million people – hold low-wage jobs that offer few prospects for advancement or wage growth. Women and women of color are particularly hard hit.

“Working in the restaurant industry for 15 years, I know what it’s like to be undervalued, because of things like low wages, lack of health care benefits and not being respected by management,” said Sierra Trujillo, 9to5 member. “9to5 and ROC-United are working for and with women like me to raise the standard of living for all working families,” said Trujillo.

9to5, National Association of Working Women supports several policy proposals to improve working conditions for restaurant workers, including the Wages Act (HR 631). The bill would raise the federal minimum wage for tipped workers from the current $2.13/hr to $5.50/hr over several years. While employers are required to make up the difference between tips and the minimum wage, the report found that employers frequently ignore the requirement.

Get a copy of the report here or contact 9to5 through its Job Survival Helpline at (800) 522.0925 for more information.


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