STATEMENT
For Immediate Release: July 21, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720-352-6153

Saru Jayaraman: New Federal $15 Minimum Wage Bill Victory for Restaurant Workers and ‘One Fair Wage’ Campaign

Second Federal Bill to Propose Phasing Out Subminimum Wage for Majority Women Tipped Workforce

The following statement should be attributed to Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of Restaurants Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), the leading restaurant workers’ advocacy organization in the country.

“We applaud the Congressional Progressive Caucus for joining ROC and the more than 3.3 million tipped restaurant workers across the nation in joining us in the fight for one fair wage. Raising the federal minimum wage for tipped workers up from $2.13 an hour o an eventual $15.00 an hour phasing out the two-tiered wage system could amount to a projected $30.1 billion annual economic stimulus and more than $116 million dollars saved each month in food stamp benefits by ensuring that our nation’s hardest working and lowest paid women and men are able to earn a life sustaining wage.

“ROC has long been fighting hard for a new minimum wage standard that acknowledges the urgency of raising wages for tipped workers — over 70% of whom are women — and as of tomorrow, there will be not one but two federal minimum wage bills proposing the elimination of the unfair two-tiered wage system which has, for decades, subjected a huge segment of the restaurant industry’s workforce to a sub-minimum wage as low as $2.13 an hour — the federal rate for tipped workers since 1991 — forcing workers to depend on the generosity of customers for their livelihoods.

“ROC is winning a new standard for restaurant workers — at the national level and in the hearts and minds of workers, employers, consumers, and elected officials across the country who have been crucial to advancing ‘One Fair Wage’ bills in a historic amount of states this year. And polling further backs this up, as 71% of Americans — across party lines — favor getting rid of the lower wage for tipped workers and establishing a fair base wage for everyone. In fact, several restaurants have already voluntarily instituted a $15 minimum wage, including our high-road employer partners The Just Crust in Boston, MA and Moo Cluck Moo in Michigan.

“This new minimum wage bill from the Congressional Progressive Caucus is yet another example of how the power of restaurant workers are raising expectations of what is possible by turning a $15 minimum wage into a reality and shaping the future into a place where all workers enjoy the dignity of a fair and stable wage to support themselves and their families.”

If you’d like to interview Saru Jayaraman or The Just Crust’s Operations Manager Becky Lopes-Filho, please contact Maria Myotte.

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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 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.