For Immediate Release: April 8, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720-352-6153

TODAY — Rhode Island Senate Labor Committee Holds Public Hearing on Possible Min Wage Increase From $2.89 to $9.00

Rhode Island’s Leading Women’s Rights Advocates Deliver Open-Letter to Electeds Urging Support for ‘One Fair Wage’ Bills  

‘One Fair Wage’ Coalition Spearheaded by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United Pushes a Raise for 22,000 Tipped Workers, Mostly Women

Providence, RI – Today, the Senate Committee on Labor will meet to discuss several bills concerning the minimum wage of Rhode Island, including the Senate’s ‘One Fair Wage’ bill, S 0291, sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence). If passed it would incrementally raise the $2.89 per hour subminimum wage for tipped workers — nearly 70% of whom are women — until it matches the regular minimum wage, effectively eliminating the state’s two-tiered wage system by 2020. A hearing for the House companion bill (H 5364) sponsored by Rep. Aaron Regunberg was held on March 19th.

With recommendations from the Labor Committees on the ‘One Fair Wage’ bills expected in early May, leading women’s rights advocates delivered an open-letter to electeds urging the bill’s passage on behalf of the state’s women workers.

The open letter was delivered and signed by Maureen Martin, Director of the Coalition of Labor Union Women & Secretary Treasurer of RI AFL-CIO, and signed by Jenn Steinfeld, Executive Director of The Women’s Fund Rhode Island; and Shandi Hanna, Action Vice President Rhode Island National Organization for Women.

When she delivered the letter, Martin, who is set to testify at today’s hearing, encouraged legislators to pass the ‘One Fair Wage’ bill, stating “sexual harassment is not just a women’s issue — it’s a social issue, it’s a wage issue.”

The restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment claims in the Unites States, responsible for  37% of sexual harassment complaints filed before EEOC. According to a recent national survey, 90% of female tipped workers report experiencing sexual harassment on the job, demonstrating the connection between subminimum wages and increased experiences of sexual harassment for women working in tipped classifications.

There is increasing momentum across the country to raise wages for tipped workers. A national poll shows 71% of Americans support directly paying tipped workers 100% of the regular minimum wage. Just weeks ago, New York State announced a 50% increase to its tipped minimum wage, raising it from $5.00 an hour to $7.50 by the end of this year. Seven states across the country have already completely eliminated their subminimum wage and five other states on the East Coast are debating ‘One Fair Wage’ legislation which would do the same.

Find the open-letter to the Senate Labor Committee here: http://rocunited.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/OpenLettertoMembersoftheSenateLaborCommittee_RISB0291_women.pdf

Find the open-letter to the House Labor Committee here: http://rocunited.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/OpenLettertoMembersoftheHouseLaborCommittee_RIHB5364_women-1.pdf

 

###

Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate 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 worker-members across 26 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.

The One Fair Wage Coalition includes RI-AFLCIO, Coalition of Labor Union Women, RI NOW and the Women’s Fund, Planned Parenthood of RI, RI JWJ, Working RI, NAACP Providence Chapter, Brown Student Labor Alliance, Fuerza Laboral, SEIU BJ, USAWRI, Bell St. Chapel, NEARI, Farm Fresh RI, HERE, Economic Progress Institute and more.