Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 5, 2014
Contact: Maria [at] rocunited [dot] org

Mass. Minimum Wage Increase Leaves 120, 000 Tipped Workers Behind

Boston, MA — Although Massachusetts is poised to have the highest state minimum wage in the country by raising its current $8 minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017, the state’s tipped minimum wage would remain abysmally low at a proposed $3.75 an hour. Yesterday, the bill was approved by the State House of Representatives and Democratic Governor Deval Patrick is expected to sign.

The state’s current tipped minimum wage is $2.63 which is just $.50 cents more than the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. The proposed $1.12 increase would be the first raise in 15 years for Massachusetts’s tipped workers. Currently, their median wage for (including tips) is $9 an hour.

“Sixty-six percent of tipped workers in Massachusetts are women, servers are overwhelmingly women in every state. With a base wage as low as this bill’s proposed $3.75 an hour, women will remain dependent on the largesse of customers for their livelihood,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. “In addition to low and unpredictable pay, servers across the country have told us about having to put up with all kinds of sexual harassment from customers because they are dependent on tips. When tipped workers get left out of minimum wage increases, or in Massachusetts’s case, the increase is so low it amounts to no difference on a server’s paycheck, it is women who suffer.”

The restaurant industry has been targeted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women. Nationally, servers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the US workforce and are three-times as likely to live in poverty.

Find more information about Massachusetts’s tipped workforce here: http://rocunited.org/state-of-tipped-workers-massachusetts/

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Co-founded by labor rights leader Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News) ROC United has grown to over 13,000 members across 26 cities in the US, winning 13 worker-led campaigns, totaling $7 million in stolen tips and wages.