FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 12, 2015
CONTACT: Michael Araujo, (401) 952-0031, mike.a@rocunited.org

Rhode Island Governor Raimondo Signs Into Law First Raise For State’s Tipped Workers in 20 Years

Members of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Rhode Island, the One Fair Wage Coalition, and legislators join to witness the Governor signing HB 5364 Sub A into law

Providence, R.I. — With Governor Raimondo signing HB 5364 Sub A into law, Rhode Island’s tipped workers, including servers, bartenders, hosts and bussers, will see the first steps toward an increase in the separate, lower wage for tipped workers which has been frozen at $2.89 an hour since 1996. The bill will increase the tipped minimum wage from $2.89 by $1.00 to $3.39 on January 1, 2016 and to $3.89 on January 1, 2017. The initial bill sponsored by Senator Goldin and Representative Regunberg called for the gradual phasing out of the two-tiered wage system and ensuring all workers are paid the full minimum wage directly by their employers.

WHO: Governor Gina Raimondo Senator Gayle Goldin, Representative Aaron Regunberg and Members of the One Fair Wage Coalition
WHERE: Governor’s State Room, Rhode Island State House, Smith Street, Providence, R.I.
WHAT: Signing of House Bill 5364 Sub A An Act Relating To Labor and Labor Relations-Minimum Wage- Gratuities
WHEN: August 12, 2015, 9:30 am

“For ROC United and our state’s tipped restaurant workers, today marks an important first step in acknowledging that the two-tiered wage system is broken,” said Mike Araujo, ROC-Rhode Island Policy Organizer. “Currently there are over 22,000  tipped workers in Rhode Island, over 70% of whom are women and suffer rates of poverty at 1.5 times that of other workers. No one should be forced to live off a sub-minimum wage and the generosity of customers to make ends meet; it’s unfair and gives rise to abuse and wage theft. While we applaud Governor Raimondo’s recognition of the vast inequality in the service industry, we remain committed to fighting for ‘one fair wage’ whereby all workers are guaranteed the dignity of a fair and stable wage.”

Although the federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991, seven states, including the entire West Coast, have already eliminated the unfair, two-tiered wage system. Establishing “one fair wage” for all workers is gaining momentum nationally as Sen. Sanders and Sen. Murray each introduced a federal minimum wage bill proposing a significant increase to the full minimum wage including a phase-out of the two-tiered wage system and polls showing that 71% of voters across party lines favor getting rid of the lower wage for tipped workers and establishing a fair base 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 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. The One Fair wage Coalition of Rhode Island and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United is working for full equality of all workers in the restaurant industry in Rhode Island. Visitwww.rocunited.org for more info.