ICYMI: U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su, together with Congressmembers Maloney, Jeffries and Meng, teamed up with One Fair Wage on Monday!
On Monday, representing the Biden Administration, United States Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su joined One Fair Wage to uplift the voices, concerns, and needs of service workers and ‘high road’ restaurant owners, together with Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney, Hakeem Jeffries, and Grace Meng. Throughout the day, Biden’s Deputy Secretary of Labor reiterated the President’s support for a $15 minimum wage and full elimination of the subminimum wage for tipped workers as she toured New York City restaurants across three boroughs that have raised their wages to $15 per hour plus tips on top in response to the industry’s severe staffing crisis. The restaurants visited were beneficiaries of One Fair Wage’s High Road Kitchens program, which enabled them to bring back staff during the Covid-19 Pandemic and provide meals to the community, in exchange for their commitment to going through OFW’s racial and gender equity training program, and scaling up to paying One Fair Wage within five years.
At each of the three restaurants, including Baodega in Manhattan, Skal Restaurant in Brooklyn and Wasabi Point in Queens, Deputy Secretary Su experienced being a “server for an hour,” serving food and drinks to customers to understand these workers’ experiences and to draw attention to the struggles of restaurant workers earning a subminimum wage and who are often forced to tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers, managers and co-workers in order to earn tips.
Workers and restaurant owners discussed the need to eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers to help bring workers back to the struggling restaurant industry as it navigates ‘the Great Resignation’ amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On top of being overworked, tips [are] down, and the responsibilities we have to deal with are way up as well as the health risks we face from interfacing with customers.” —Chanta, NYC bartender
We need to make it known that everyone has rights, the right to a fair wage and that all these ‘violations’ are actually wage theft. We need to name it. And we can make advancements towards minimizing it by passing One Fair Wage. —Andres, Brooklyn tipped restaurant worker
We are so grateful that Dep. Secretary Su met with these workers and restaurant owners to reiterate the President’s support for addressing the difficult conditions service industry workers face — including how they must often put themselves at risk just to earn enough tips to survive.
Check out coverage of the day below:
Brooklyn 12 News interviewed the Deputy Secretary about her “Serve for an Hour” experience:
Nation’s Restaurant News highlighted President Biden’s support for raising restaurant worker wages. Deputy Secretary Su emphasized how reliance on tips creates economic instability:
“It is a problem of economic security; it is a problem of being too dependent on a customer base, and there’s no way for a worker to know at the end of the day how much they’re going to earn. This leads to a whole series of insecurity and precarity that we should not have in our economy.”
The Bronx Times emphasized that the subminimum wage is a legacy of slavery. The pandemic has greatly exacerbated the issue as 88% of Black-tipped workers have seen their tips plunge by half or more.
The Villager gave an overview of the Server of An Hour experience that Deputy Secretary of Labor Su faced yesterday alongside Congresswoman Maloney.
“‘Change doesn’t come easily, but it comes if you never give up,’ Maloney said after donning an apron. ‘Not only are the majority of the workers female, they are underpaid, underappreciated, and often face constant sexual harassment. Anyone who works eight hours should get a minimum wage.'”
News 12 Westchester reported on the struggles faced by tipped workers just to earn a daily wage.
“’We can’t build back a strong economy without making sure that working people are treated right and they get the wages and dignity and respect of the job that they should,’ said Su.”
WCBS highlighted our Manhattan “Server for an Hour” event, quoting our President, Saru Jayaraman.
“What the employers are asking for, alongside the workers, is that Governor Hochul enact a full minimum wage for restaurant workers, just like all workers in New York State have,” said Jayaraman.
TapInto reported on our first stop of the tour, highlighting how raising wages for restaurant workers is a critical part of revitalizing the industry.
“ A full 12 percent of all workers who’ve left across the country have left from New York and it is because it is impossible to live in this city and state on a subminimum wage and tips—it is impossible and so people have said that we are done,” added [Saru] Jayaraman.
Spectrum Noticias 1 emphasized the grave crisis facing the restaurant industry and the need for solutions.
NTDTV highlighted Congresswoman Meng’s support for One Fair Wage alongside the Deputy Labor Secretary.
Your support means the world to us, especially the dozens of volunteers throughout Michigan – a key battleground state where we are kicking off this multi-state effort – who are battling the cold to collect signatures to get One Fair Wage on the ballot.
Please, donate what you can today, and don’t forget to sign our petition calling for a $15 minimum wage and an end to subminimum wages in the U.S. once and for all.
Thanks for your support,
One Fair Wage