STATEMENT
For Immediate Release: May 20, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720 352 6153

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Responds to Minimum Wage Increase in Los Angeles

Despite Aggressive Lobbying, L.A. City Council Rejects Attempts to Illegally Exempt Restaurant Industry from $15 Minimum Wage

The following statement is by Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and director of the largest national restaurant workers’ rights advocacy organization in the country, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United:

“This policy means that tens of thousands of restaurant workers across Los Angeles — the second largest city in the country — are closer to a more livable minimum wage. What’s especially significant is that yesterday’s 14 to 1 vote by the L.A. City Council would maintain one fair wage for all workers, without exemptions for the tipped workforce. California is one of seven states without a separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers and the state is among the nation’s strongest in restaurant industry growth, with $72 billion in sales last year and 11% workforce growth over the past two years.

“Although California is considered a leader in progressive policies, its legislators are no stranger to the onslaught of corporate lobbying that has ramped up significantly over the last several months. Corporate restaurant lobbyists aggressively sought a two-tier wage system for restaurant workers, threatening to increase poverty, wage theft and even rates of sexual harassment for tipped workers. ROC-LA, the L.A. Raise the Wage Coalition and L.A. Coalition Against Wage Theft tirelessly attended marches, demonstrations, and hearings, like the one yesterday, to speak truth to power and demand that their city take action to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and ensured the dignity of a fair and stable wage, rather than being forced to live off tips. In addition to the increased wage, ROC-LA and allies won a significant victory by establishing the City’s first-ever local enforcement agency with increased powers, such as permit revocation for employers who steal wages and undercut honest businesses.

“As L.A.’s city attorney moves forward in drafting legislation, and we await a final vote, we implore members of the L.A. City Council to prioritize those who are the backbone of our economies above corporate interests and reject anything less than a $15 minimum wage for all workers.”

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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 close to 14,000 worker-members across over 30 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.