Since the pandemic, restaurant workers have been leaving the industry in droves. Our research reveals that 53 percent of restaurant workers surveyed are considering leaving the industry, 70 percent of whom are citing low wages and tips as their primary reason for leaving, and 78 percent of workers state that the only reason they would stay in the industry is if they received a livable wage with tips on top. In response to this staffing crisis, thousands of restaurants nationwide have raised their wages to get workers to attract and retain staff, but this measure is not enough. Through state campaigns, we are focusing on raising wages for tipped workers so that the 1 million restaurant workers who have left since the onset of the pandemic can return to an industry that fairly compensates essential workers.
In California, workers have One Fair Wage. Meaning, they have a regular minimum wage plus tips on top, and there is no sub-minimum wage. Though the minimum wage in CA is $15/hr, it is still not where it needs to be for workers to keep up with the rise in prices that we are experiencing nationwide on rent, gas, and food. Workers need a living wage of at least $18/hr to survive. A large portion of the CA restaurant workforce consists of people of color- with 51% Latinx, 3.3% Black, and 13.3% Asian. People of color represent the largest percentage of restaurant workers in CA and are in the lowest-paid positions, often in positions without tips. We need to raise the minimum wage in CA in order to bring these thousands of workers out of poverty!