Hotline Launch/Albany Presser

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | madison@unbendablemedia.com

As New York Phases Out Covid Restrictions, One Fair Wage Announces Hotline for NY Restaurant Workers Still Facing Sexual Harassment and Other Safety Concerns 

As New York Governor and Legislature Have Continually Failed To Act To Address Wage And Workplace Injustice In Restaurants, Grassroots Organization Steps In 

Earlier Today, New York Legislators Outlined Legislation to Help NY Restaurants Recover and Ease Transition to Higher Wages for Restaurant Workers to Address “Great Resignation

NEW YORK — Today, One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit that advocates on behalf of resturant workers earning the tipped subminimum wage, announced the launch of a new legal aid hotline for NY restaurant workers facing worker rights violations, hostility from customers, wage theft, sexual harassment and other safety concerns.  The hotline number is (646) 470-9113.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE HOTLINE HERE: http://www.onefairwage.site/safetyhotline  

“It’s no wonder that New York restaurant workers are exiting the industry en masse,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage. “Because Gov. Hochul and the New York State legislature have failed so far to end poverty subminimum wages in restaurants, restaurant workers suffered greatly lessened tips and wages and record rates of harassment during the pandemic and are fleeing the industry in droves.  Even as more than 17,000 workers have signed a petition to Governor Hochul stating that they will not work without One Fair Wage—a full minimum wage with tips on top—she has refused to act- and so we are taking action ourselves.  We’re setting up a hotline to identify restaurant workers in New York experiencing sexual harassment, wage theft and hostility from customers — and we’ll be helping these workers get what they need until our state government can finally act and end this crisis.”

Earlier today, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas joined restaurant workers and owners for a press conference in Albany to discuss their newly introduced legislation, S.8386, which establishes a restaurant and restaurant worker recovery relief fund and loan program. The legislation would provide loan forgiveness for restaurants who pay or seek to transition to paying workers One Fair Wage – a full minimum wage with tips on top – in order to recruit staff during the Great Resignation. 

The bill is a companion to S.808/A.2244, led by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, which will raise the subminimum wage for tipped workers to the full minimum wage, and allow tips to be shared with back-of-house employees. Both bills aim to support restaurant owners and workers by getting restaurant workers back to work. 

“If you work a full day, you should get a full day’s wages,” explained Senator Brad Hoylman. “That’s why I co-sponsor Senator Biaggi’s bill, S.808, to end the tipped minimum wage, and why I recently introduced S.8386 to provide forgivable loans to restaurants that pay their workers a full minimum wage plus tips. I’m proud to stand with the One Fair Wage movement in the fight to require that workers get paid fair wages.”

“If we are going to get people back to work we have to center communities of color and women who have been disproportionately impacted, including restaurant workers. We must end the tipped minimum wage and we have to provide the funding to do this. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which will provide forgivable loans and assist restaurants in paying their workers a full minimum wage. I join my colleagues and the One Fair Wage coalition to urge our legislature and Governor to include this in our enacted budget. It’s a matter of equity,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

In December, One Fair Wage released “Closed Due to Low Wages: The Ongoing Exodus of Workers From the NY Restaurant Industry & The Looming Impact on Consumers,” highlighting how New York has experienced the largest decline in restaurant workers of any other state; double the national average: 

  • Since December 2019, nearly 1 million workers have left the restaurant industry nationwide, and more than 1 in 10—nearly 12%—of all restaurant workers who left the industry were in New York State.
  • New York in particular has witnessed the largest decline (18%) in the overall restaurant workforce of any US State or territory; more than 120,000 workers have left the industry in New York. With a pre-pandemic workforce of about 675,000 employees, there remain a little over 550,000 workers in the restaurant industry statewide.
  • Among those restaurant workers who remain, more than half report that they are leaving. In May 2021, 53% of all restaurant workers who remain in the industry nationwide and exactly half (50%) of all New York restaurant workers who remain in the industry reported that they were leaving. Nine in ten workers (90%) cited that they were leaving due to low wages and tips. Nearly eight in ten workers (78%) stated that a ‘full, stable, livable wage with tips on top’ would be the main factor to make them stay in the industry, higher than all other potential incentives by 30 percentage points.
  • In response, we have documented over 400 restaurants now paying OFW in all regions of New York State. However, these restaurants are saying that their individual restaurants’ wage increases are not enough. Many of these employers are calling for statewide policy to enact One Fair Wage – a full minimum wage for tipped workers with tips on top – in order to create a level playing field and to signal to thousands of workers who have left or are leaving that wages will increase permanently and it is worth coming back to work in restaurants.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

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