In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the people or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
What would America's politics be without the outsized influence from the NRA? In this case, however, we're talking about the National Restaurant Association, which uses an army of lobbyists to fight against the rights of working families who do all the work that makes them their profits. The industry that brings in $600 billion a year in revenue is a leader in fighting against raising the minimum wage and increasing wages for tipped workers, paid sick days and food safety rules.
OK, Reservoir Dog Mr. Pink was a bad guy, a career criminal and maybe even a killer. (We’ll never know for sure about that.) But even worse, Mr. Pink was a restaurant server’s horror story. No matter how hard a server busted his or her tail bringing his food and drink and making his meal pleasant or even memorable, Mr. Pink wouldn’t leave a tip.
The federal minimum wage for tipped workers—mostly servers in restaurants but also some workers in hotels, nail salons, carwashes and other industries—has been stuck at $2.13 an hour since 1991. Employers expect customers to make up the difference between the $2.13 and the federal minimum wage with their tips.
The latest video from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United tells the stories of workers who are "Living Off Tips." In an industry that is dominated by women workers who get paid a minimum wage of $2.13 plus tips, many workers can't afford to pay their basic necessities or the needs of their families. ROC United is calling on tipped workers to tell their stories so that more and more people can learn the difficulties of the hardworking women and men who rely on a tipped wage that hasn't been increased since 1991.
Darden Restaurants Inc., the company whose 28,000 workers serve at Red Lobster, Olive Garden and the upscale Capital Grille restaurants, found itself on the defensive in September, as CEO Clarence Otis tried to explain to shareholders why year after year earnings per share dropped and restaurant servers labored under a $2.13 per hour federal “tipped” minimum wage, with no paid sick leave.
For the millions of mothers who work in restaurants, it's hard enough to balance work with the responsibility of raising your children right. But a recent survey shows that many employers seem to not only not care, but they act as if they are purposefully trying to make things harder for moms. From subminimum wages to lack of career mobility, working mothers face a wide array of challenges that make their lives harder and less rewarding.
The restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the United States. With hefty profit margins exceeding those of major retail chains such as Walmart and Target, the restaurant industry is expected to create up to a million more jobs by 2020. Many restaurants tout job creation yet pay some of the lowest wages to their employees. These low wages hinder people's ability to afford child care.
The Kids Count Data Book finds that the number of children living in poverty jumped by 3 million from 2005 to 2011—years marked by stagnant wages—and now 23% of the nation’s children live in poverty.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United shows that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as legislation in Congress would do, would boost more than half of the working poor in the United States out of poverty.