Upstate NY Service Workers Experience Of Health & Harassment During COVID

Upstate NY Service Workers Experience Of Health & Harassment During COVID

COVID-19’s devastation of the service sector has been well documented, including the closure of thousands of independently-owned restaurants and the unemployment, underemployment, and impoverishment of thousands of food service workers in New York. Destitution among workers can be traced in large part to the subminimum wage for tipped workers, still $2.13 an hour at the Federal level. A legacy of slavery, the subminimum wage for tipped workers persists in New York and in 42 other states, which has subjected a largely female workforce of servers, bartenders, bussers, and others to economic instability and the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry for decades. Thus far through the pandemic, 60 percent of tipped workers report being unable to access unemployment insurance because their subminimum wage was too low to meet minimum state thresholds for benefits qualification.

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