OFW-Albany Press Conference

Can you make it? TODAY 11AM: State Legislators Hold Press Conference in Albany Detailing New Proposals to Support NY Restaurants Paying Workers Fair Wages; Restaurant Workers to Deliver Brownies to Lawmakers Urging Support

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 — 10:45 AM ET

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | madison@unbendablemedia.com

TODAY 11AM: NY State Legislators Join One Fair Wage Advocates for Press Conference Upstate to Announce New Policies to Support Restaurants Paying One Fair Wage to Address New York’s ‘Great Resignation’ & Get Women Back in the Workforce

At the Press Conference, One Fair Wage Will Announce New Legal Aid Hotline for Restaurant Workers Facing Increased Hostility From Customers, Wage Theft & COVID Safety Concerns As New York Reduces Mask & COVID Mandates

ALBANY, NY — Today, Wednesday, March 9th, starting at 11:00 AM, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas will join advocates gathering to end the subminimum wage 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, 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 moving together are aiming to support restaurant owners and workers by getting restaurant workers back to work. 

During the press conference, One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit advocating on behalf of restaurant workers, will announce a new hotline number, ‪(646) 470-9113, ‬and website to help New York service workers facing workers’ rights violations by providing them with legal support. (The hotline webpage goes active at 11am ET on 03/09/2022.) 

The group says New York restaurant workers, in particular, have reported increased harassment, hostility and racial discrimination in restaurants, instances of wage theft, and health and safety concerns over the lifting of mask and vaccination mandates.

WHAT: One Fair Wage Press Conference with Sen. Hoylman, Asm. Gonzalez-Rojas; Announcement of New Legal Aid Hotline for Restaurant Workers Facing Workers Rights Violations

WHERE: Capitol Building – Million Dollar Staircase, Third Floor

WHEN: Wednesday, March 9, 11:00 AM. Please arrive 15 minutes prior for visuals of advocates in aprons passing out brownies and flyers.

“It’s no wonder that New York restaurant workers are exiting the industry en masse, said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage. “In the last two years of the pandemic–particularly for women and women of color struggling with subminimum wages–ongoing low wages in the industry, coupled with significant increases in harassment and abuse have kept them away from the restaurant industry. Ending the subminimum wage would enable women to achieve greater gender equity and significantly reduce sexual harasment and gender-based violence at work. 

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. That’s why we’re taking matters into our own hands and providing New York workers with a hotline where they can feel better supported in the industry.

Following the press conference, One Fair Wage will deliver brownies and petitions, as well as letters from New York employers to lawmakers in the capitol building.

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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