With all of the organic and local items on menus, it has never been a better time to eat in our country. At the same time, this may be the worst time in a long time to be a restaurant worker. The wages of restaurant workers in Philadelphia have declined by 11% since 2003 and nationally, the tipped minimum wage hasn’t increased since 1991. Yesterday, five former workers from a popular Philadelphia sushi restaurant announced that they had reached a $40,000 settlement with their employer, showing a growing food worker movement a powerful example of how they can get organized and win.
Last Saturday, Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) was on Up with Chris Hayes with Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio, Victoria of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia, and a representative from the New York’s National Restaurant Association to discuss the state of food service labor in our country’s restaurants.
The discussion highlighted many issues that Saru Jayaraman chronicled in her book, Behind The Kitchen Door, which exposes the rampant discrimination, meager wages, and health issues (lack of earned sick days, working while sick) that face our country’s 10 million food-service workers every day.