STATEMENT
For Immediate Release: April 1, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720-352-6153

Leading Restaurants Workers’ Rights Advocate: A Dollar Doesn’t Cut it, We Need to Legislate a Living Wage

The following statement should be attributed to Saru Jayaraman, co-founder/co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United.

“With today’s announcement that McDonald’s will raise wages for 10% of its employees by a $1.00 at company-owned stores — just one day after the announcement that workers will be participating in a global strike on April 15th to continue their demands for $15 an hour — it’s clear that the fast-food giant is feeling the heat of years of courageous restaurant workers around the country organizing for fair pay. However, we all know it amounts to mere breadcrumbs when compared to what the company can afford.

“All of us fighting to improve the restaurant industry and the economy should feel empowered by today’s news, but we need to make sure McDonald’s knows that a dollar raise doesn’t cut it. Research shows that if McDonald’s were to raise its minimum wage to $15, and pass the cost to customers, the price of a Big Mac would increase to $4.67 from $3.99 and the McDonald’s Dollar Menu would go to $1.17. In some other countries, McDonald’s workers get paid a minimum of $21 an hour.  Even with a dollar raise, McDonald’s CEO and executive staff will continue to get paid more in a day than their front-line employees could make in a year or more.

“On April 14th and 15th, lobbyists for corporations like McDonald’s and Olive Garden parent company Darden Restaurants Inc. — the country’s largest employer of tipped workers — will descend on Congress with the National Restaurant Association. Will corporations like McDonald’s continue to lobby against minimum wage increases or take the opportunity to improve the American economy and the lives of more than 10 million restaurant workers by supporting efforts like that of Senator Murray and Representative Scott’s to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and eliminate the $2.13 sub-minimum wage for tipped workers? Due to aggressive lobbying by the likes of McDonald’s, the absolutely lowest paying jobs in the country are restaurant jobs. In fact, the absolute lowest wage out there is the federal tipped minimum wage which has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991. As a result, tipped workers — servers, bussers, runners, and bartenders — live in poverty at nearly three-times the rate of the rest of the workforce. How much longer will the National Restaurant Association stand in the way of the visionary commitments of our country’s restaurant workers to ensure every restaurant job is sufficient to make ends meet and raise a family?

“The American people overwhelming support raising the minimum wage, it’s due time for Congress to start listening to them and legislate a living wage. ”

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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.