Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 8, 2014
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria [at] rocunited [dot] org

Living Wage Denied to Tipped Workers by Chicago Minimum Wage Task Force Recommendation
65,000 Tipped Workers Left Behind

Chicago, IL — Yesterday, Chicago’s minimum wage task force proposed to raise the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $13 an hour by 2018. However, tipped workers could expect a raise of just $1 — bringing their current base wage of $4.95 to $5.95 within the next two years.

“Most of my $4.95 an hour goes to taxes; the majority of my wages are tips,” said current server, Nataki Rhodes. “Your take home pay changes based on the weather, holidays, discrimination, whether or not someone ‘believes’ in tipping, and if we allow a customer’s sexual advances. I’ve had to make tough decisions, like should I let a customer feel on me if it means I’ll get a $50 tip? I’m not a prostitute, but I need that money to support my son. Tipped workers have to make decisions like that all the time, putting our pride and self-respect aside in order to make a decent tip. We need a livable wage.”

The majority of Chicago’s 65,000 tipped workers are women; nationally, servers are more than 70% women. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges from female workers. Nationally, servers are twice as likely to need food stamps and live in poverty at three times the rate of the general workforce. Including tips, tipped workers in Illinois earn a median wage of only $9.00 – equivalent to $18,720 for a full-time year-round employee.

“Although we are grateful that Chicago’s electeds are paying attention to the fight for living wages sweeping the country, the task force’s recommendation does little to benefit women living off tips,” said Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director and Co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.”

“Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and our Chicago affiliate (ROC-Chicago) will continue to fight to end the sexist and discriminatory subminimum wage for tipped workers and ensure that all workers have one fair minimum wage.”

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

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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.