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Democratic Platform Draft Calls for $15 Minimum for All, Elimination of Tipped Wage

June 26, 2016

Contact: Tim Rusch, 917-399-0236

Democratic Platform Draft Calls for $15 Minimum for All, Elimination of Tipped Wage
Democratic Platform’s Wage Proposal Would Bring Fair Base Wage to Millions, Improve Lives of Workers in Restaurant Industry
New York, NY — On Saturday afternoon, the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee issued a draft of the policy positions Sec. Clinton will be running on this November. As cited in a statement by Clinton campaign senior policy advisor Maya Harris, it “contains ambitious, progressive principles on wages, stating that working people should earn at least $15 an hour, citing New York’s minimum wage law and calling for raising and indexing the federal minimum wage. It also calls for the elimination of the ‘tipped’ wage and for the right of workers to form or join a union.”
Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), a national leader on efforts to establish “One Fair Wage” and eliminate the tipped minimum wage, hails this as a victory:
“Establishing a $15 base wage for all workers and eliminating the tipped minimum is a major step toward correcting decades of injustice and improving the lives of millions of fellow Americans — especially women and people of color. The restaurant industry, in particular, has lagged way behind in wages: the federal tipped minimum has remained $2.13 for 25 years, and nearly half of tipped workers live near the poverty line. As a result of having to work for tips with no fair base wage, restaurant workers have to endure all kinds of sexual harassment from both customers and staff: 90% have reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job, according to our research. The separate tipped minimum wage also has created a ‘two-tier’ system that has placed an enormous burden on the restaurant business.
“Secretary Clinton pledged her support for eliminating the tipped minimum wage during a visit to ROC’s COLORS restaurant a few months ago, and we thank her, and Senator Sanders who has been an ardent supporter of One Fair Wage, and other members of the platform committee for working to bring a fair base wage to low-wage workers across the U.S.”
Tipped Wage Facts (view research here):
–The US is the only industrialized nation where tipped workers depend on tips for a majority of their income.
–With over 11 million employees, the restaurant industry is one of the largest growing industries in the nation, and the largest employer of minimum wage workers (1 in 12 Americans)
–90% of restaurant workers have been sexually harassed on the job; Absent a stable base wage, tipped workers are forced to tolerate inappropriate behavior from customers on whose tips they depend to feed their families, and from co-workers and management who often influence shifts and hours
–Nearly 70% of restaurant workers are women
–53% of tipped workers are people of color
–Half of restaurant workers live at or near the poverty line
–The last time the Federal tipped minimum wage was raised was in 1991
–1 in 7 tipped workers relies on food stamps to feed themselves and their families


About Restaurant Opportunities Centers United -

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 18,000 worker-members, 200 restaurant employer members, and several thousand consumer members in 15 states in the U.S., winning 15 worker-led campaigns, recovering $10 million in stolen tips and wages.

Read more about Saru Jayaraman’s new book Forked: A New Standard for American Dining at

ROC-DC Senior Campaign Organizer

June 2016
We are looking for a Senior Organizer who will organize workers, employers and consumers in Washington, DC.


In addition to the above listed job duties and responsibilities, there are conditions and requirements which are essential for anyone occupying the post.

  • Deep commitment to a vision of racial, gender and economic justice and to building progressive power.
  • You have a minimum of 3 years successful organizing experience with a base building organization
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and access to an operating car with insurance
  • Strong written and verbal skills, and ability to listen.
  • Ability to work under pressure.
  • Willingness to travel and work flexible hours required.
  • Commitment to building progressive political power.
  • Ability to work independently: Self-motivated
  • Preferred: basic computer skills (word processing, spreadsheet & database, electronic communication, social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook)
  • Commitment to building progressive power.
  • Spanish fluency a plus.


  1. Staff/Leadership Development
  • Recruit worker members and build their leadership through ROC’s job training institute, the COLORS Hospitality Opportunities for Workers (CHOW) Institute
  • Recruit employer members and build their leadership through RAISE, ROC’s national restaurant association
  • Build dues paying membership
  • Work with ROC’s leaders, workers, restaurant owners and consumers to build skills and increase participation in ROC’s campaign
  • Support DC leadership team to do house visits, general recruitment, turnout calls, power analysis, develop strategic tactics to move campaigns forward, and get earned media etc.
  • Work with leadership/allies sharpen the racial and gender justice analysis and move key messages into campaign work.
  1. Campaign Development/Field Work
  • Participate in campaign planning to move decision makers to support One Fair Wage
  • Support DC leadership in implementing turnout and recruitment plans for events
  • Participate in research activities as needed
  1. Affiliate Institution Building
  • Work with ROC United Operations & Finance Director, DC Campaign Manager, and DC Affiliate Director to launch events in COLORS DC space, including consumer membership-building events and campaign events

Working Conditions:

Organizers are required to work long and irregular hours including work on weekends and on holidays as necessary. The work of an organizer necessitates flexibility as demands and priorities for a particular campaign or the overall organization shift. It is expected that organizers be available during the times that workers in their assigned area are available at their work site, home or other locale. You may be required to travel extensively.


  • There will be an evaluation after the first month and then at the three and at a minimum an annual review will be done.


  • Starting pay for Senior Organizer is based on experience
  • Generous benefits, including health and dental coverage, 401(k) plan, paid vacation, personal days, and holidays.


Please send cover letter and resume detailing your qualifications to Please place the title of the position in the subject line of your email.

Immigrants, women, and people of color encouraged to apply. Restaurant Industry experience a plus.

Contact: Tim Rusch,, 917.399.0236

Washington D.C. City Council Votes Against One Fair Wage,  Approves Compromised Wage Deal on the Backs of Tipped Workers

D.C. City Council Approves Mayor Bowser’s $15 Wage Proposal, Which Leaves Nearly 29,000 of the District’s Tipped Workers Behind

Poll: 78 percent of D.C. voters would support a ballot initiative to fix the omission of tipped workers from the full $15 minimum wage

The following is a statement from Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United: 

Washington, D.C. – “Today, the Washington D.C. City Council voted against one fair wage for the District’s tipped workers when it raised the non-tipped minimum to $15. While this is a positive step for many workers in the area, this deal was made on the backs of over 29,000 hard working women and men, and many people of color, in the restaurant industry. These workers experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of other D.C. workers. Nine out of ten of D.C.’s tipped restaurant workers experience some kind of sexual harassment on the job because of their subminimum wage status. This wage deal, carved in backrooms with the help of the National Restaurant Association, is a disgrace for Washington D.C.  

“We oppose any deal or compromise that excludes tipped workers from a full $15 minimum wage. As reported in a new pollthe people of DC support a ballot initiative to ensure that tipped workers are paid the full $15 minimum wage. We’re continuing to gather signatures and will fight for the District’s tipped workers until we have achieved one fair minimum wage for all workers.”

Note to Journalists:
Many prominent local employers—including Florida Avenue Grill owner, Imar Hutchins, and Busboys and Poets owner, Andy Shallal—have come out publicly for One Fair Wage. Hutchins said, “The reason why I support minimum wage legislation with elimination of the tipped minimum wage is that it is easier if it is legislated because then it is something that [the whole industry] has to deal with together.”

Read the report, “The Case for Eliminating the Tipped Minimum Wage in Washington, D.C.” can be found  here

Additionally, 25 organizations have signed onto a letter urging Mayor Bowser and D.C. legislatures to establish one fair wage for the city’s tipped workers. That letter can be found HERE.


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 18,000 worker-members across over 15 states, in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $10 million in stolen tips and wages.

DC report

The Case for Eliminating the Tipped Minimum Wage in Washington, D.C.

In collaboration with the National Employment Law Project (NELP), ROC United released “The Case for Eliminating the Tipped Minimum Wage in Washington, D.C.” in May 2016.

The report responds to legislation to raise D.C.’s wage floor to $15 and increase the subminimum tipped wage to 50 percent of the full minimum wage proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia. While an improvement compared to current law, the Mayor’s proposal would nonetheless leave behind a significant number of low-wage workers—namely, the nearly 29,000 workers in D.C. that work in predominantly tipped occupations.  Under the current law, employers can pay these workers just $2.77 per hour, as long as tips cover the difference between the regular minimum wage and the subminimum tipped wage.

Being forced to rely largely, or entirely, on tips for income, D.C., tipped workers unsurprisingly experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of other D.C. workers,  and women feel the impact of the tipped minimum wage most acutely—women are twice as likely to live in poverty as the male tipped workers.  And despite the restaurant industry’s claims that tipped servers and bartenders earn high incomes in D.C., the median wage for tipped servers was just $9.58 per hour, including tips, between 2012 and 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This median wage is just slightly higher than the full minimum wage for that period.

ROC-DC member Jessica Martin knows all too well the hardships of living off tips: “Working over 50 hours a week I still never received a paycheck because my wages were too low to cover taxes. We need One Fair Wage to lift thousands of DC workers and residents out of near poverty conditions and institutionalized worker discrimination.”

Tipped workers’ reliance on tip for income also forces them to tolerate sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior from customers, co-workers, and management.  Workers in states with a tipped minimum wage like D.C. are twice as likely to experience sexually harassing behavior in the workplace, and over 90 percent of restaurant workers surveyed in D.C. reported experiencing some form of sexualized behavior while at work.

The evidence is mounting that the restaurant industry is thriving in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and SeaTac, Washington—all of which have approved a $15 minimum wage for all workers, including tipped workers.  Since Seattle passed its trailblazing $15 minimum wage, the number of food services and beverage industry business licenses issued by the city has increased by 6 percent.  The evidence also shows that a One Fair Wage system will not lead to the elimination of tipping or significant drops in tipping rates. The restaurant industry in D.C. can afford “One Fair Wage”—that is, the elimination of a subminimum wage for tipped workers in favor of one fair wage for all workers.

Find the full report here.


Contact: Dallas Donnell,, 215-870-7076

             Tim Rusch, 917-399-0236

DC Mayor Bowser Short-Changes Tipped Workers
Restaurant workers call for citywide minimum-wage raise to $15
to include all DC workers 

Washington, D.C. – As a popular ballot measure is poised to increase the minimum wage for all of DC’s workers, Mayor Muriel Bowser has decided to forego the will of the people with a woefully inadequate initiative of her own. The Mayor’s proposed bill to the DC Council to raise the citywide minimum wage for $15 an hour by 2020 would leave the tipped wage discrepancy in place, with tipped subminimum wage reaching $7.50 an hour by 2022.

“Mayor Bowser’s heart is in the right place but she’s completely out of sync with the people of DC on this proposal,” says Gaby Madriz, Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of DC (ROC-DC). “Our initiative calls for $15 for all. It’s really that simple. That means every single DC workers with no exceptions, and polls suggest that’s more popular than the mayor herself. If she can’t get the entire job done and establish one fair wage for all low-wage workers in DC, then Mayor Bowser should get out of the way and let the people act.”

Tipped workers, primarily restaurant workers, have endured an unending cycle of neglect from politicians who show more concern for paid lobbyists and corporate campaign donors than for the constituents whom they are elected to serve. That’s exactly why our organizations have come together, to deliver democracy to the people through a direct ballot measure to ensure that DC workers lead the charge in making One Fair Wage a reality on the East Coast.

The sub-minimum wage for tipped workers in DC is just $2.77 an hour.  “Along with DC Working Families, ROC-DC is leading a multi-stakeholder coalition of DC residents, workers, leaders, and activists to help the thousands of workers in DC caught in this poverty wage trap,” said Madriz.

ROC has launched a campaign to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers in cities and states across the nation. The campaign for One Fair Wage urges lawmakers to end the two-tiered minimum wage system that pays workers who customarily are paid by their employers as little as the federal rate of $2.13 per hour, also adopted by 17 states. Nationally, ROC has found that more than two-thirds of tipped workers are women. Mayor Bowser’s proposal, while increasing the minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped workers aims to lift tipped workers up to $7.50 by 2022 while all other workers would receive a minimum wage of $15.00 by 2020.

“Leaving out tipped workers means leaving out women,” according to Jessica Wynter Martin, a tipped worker who resides in Ward 7. “When both leading Democratic Presidential candidates, more than 80% of DC voters agree that it’s time to end slave wages — and seven states including California have done just that and seen their restaurant industries grow — what exactly is stopping Mayor Bowser from doing the right thing? Tipped workers and our families refuse to settle for the crumbs of Mayor Bowser’s ‘reform.’”

Delvone Michael of DC Working Families and the co-chair of DC for $15, remarked, “We are proud to welcome the Mayor to the growing movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 for DC’s hard working families. At the same time, we are disappointed that she has decided to not fully include tipped workers in her proposal. No one who works full time, especially tipped workers, should be forced to live in poverty. This proposal is a step in the right direction but it does not get us to where we need to be. That’s why DC Working Families remains as committed as ever to putting a $15 minimum wage on the ballot so DC voters, not lobbyists or political insiders, can decide this important issue.”

The DC for $15 coalition seeks to add a question to the November 2016 general election ballot that would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 with a more gradual phase-in for tipped workers to reach $15 per hour by 2024.

The DC ballot measure is also similar to a bill that was just introduced this morning in nearby Baltimore to increase the city minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 and raise the minimum wage for tipped workers — currently at the Maryland rate of $3.63 per hour — to $15 per hour by 2025 and eliminate the two-tiered wage system thereafter.


About Restaurant Opportunities Centers United -

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 18,000 worker-members, 200 restaurant employer members, and several thousand consumer members in 15 states in the U.S., winning 15 worker-led campaigns, recovering $10 million in stolen tips and wages.


March 31, 2016
Contact: Dallas Donnell,, 215-870-7076
              Tim Rusch,, 917-399-0236

 On 25th Anniversary of Last Tipped Minimum Wage Increase, Prominent National Advocacy and Research Groups Call for Nation to Adopt One Fair Wage for All Workers

 Washington, D.C. – This Friday, April 1st marks 25 years since the last change in the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which was increased from just $2.09 to $2.13 per hour in 1991. This two-tiered system of a separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers has left nearly 4.5 million working people across the country struggling to survive on poverty wages. Two-thirds of tipped workers are women, and of the restaurant workers who make up more than half of the tipped workforce about 70 percent are women.

To mark a quarter century that tipped workers have been paid a base wage as low as $2.13 an hour, a growing number of national organizations are calling for the complete elimination of the subminimum wage for tipped workers in favor of paying one fair minimum wage to all working people.  There are currently seven states where tipped workers receive the regular minimum wage. In these states, restaurant job growth is stronger and poverty rates among tipped workers are dramatically lower, than in states where tipped workers are paid $2.13 – demonstrating that one fair wage is good for both our economy and our families.

This anniversary is especially timely as the minimum wage is being debated in cities and states across the country.  D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently called for an increase in the citywide minimum wage to $15 by 2020, but remained silent on the inclusion of tipped workers who currently earn just $2.77 an hour in the District. Meanwhile, lawmakers in California, which has done away with the subminimum wage for tipped workers, earlier this week announced a deal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“$2.13 an hour isn’t enough for a single person to survive on, much less a family. That’s what we’re talking about here: a majority of tipped workers are women, and many are the heads of their households,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “Without a stable base wage to depend on, these women can be forced to choose between child care and medical care, because while their income fluctuates their bills don’t. Even worse, tipped workers in states that pay as low as $2.13 an hour experience sexual harassment at twice the rate of their counterparts in states where there’s one fair minimum wage for all workers.”

 “Twenty-five-year anniversaries are normally joyous, but the fact that the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for the last 25 years is a national disgrace. Workers across a range of industries and occupations as diverse as restaurant servers, airport wheelchair attendants, and barbers and stylists perform work that is exacting and often strenuous, and compensated largely through tips. That’s unfair to workers and customers alike: tipped workers deserve a fair wage, with a floor on par with employees in other industries. And customers shouldn’t be stuck paying employees’ wages when it’s the employer’s responsibility,” said Christine Owens, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project. “In seven states, tipped workers must be paid at least the full minimum wage as their base pay. These states have thriving economies and rising employment. It’s time for the nation to follow their lead: eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, and pay one fair minimum wage to all workers.”

“The tipped wage is a legacy of slavery whose ugly origins are rooted in a time when American employers didn’t want to pay newly freed African Americans a proper wage,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Today, our paltry, subminimum tipped wage of $2.13 an hour has institutionalized an unequal, two-tiered wage gap that keeps millions of working Americans trapped in poverty and disproportionately harms working people of color and their families. This is unacceptable anywhere, but it’s unconscionable in a country that prides itself on being a land of opportunity.” 

“No wonder there’s a wage gap—and no wonder so many of the workers who serve our food can barely afford food themselves,” said Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program at the National Women’s Law Center. “At just $2.13 an hour, the shamefully low federal tipped minimum cash wage leaves tipped workers with no stable income to depend on when their tips vary from week to week. And most of the workers who rely on tips to support themselves and their families are women, disproportionately women of color. But in the states that already have one minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped workers alike, the average poverty rate among women tipped workers is 33 percent lower—and the average wage gap is 14 percent smaller—than in states with a $2.13 tipped minimum wage. Women and families across the country deserve one fair minimum wage.”

“Paying women and all workers fairly and well enough to keep food on the table and their families out of poverty is essential to our nation’s well-being,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “Women in the United States today head more than 15 million households and are breadwinners in most families, yet they also make up the majority of tipped workers who often suffer from low wages and have no paid sick days, paid family or medical leave, or access to other family friendly policies. Eliminating the grossly outdated tipped minimum wage, raising the federal minimum wage and making paid leave available to all workers should be top priorities for every lawmaker who supports strengthening families and our economy.”

“Tipped work is one of the fastest-growing occupations and one of the lowest-paid, especially for women and for workers of color,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs. “Increasing the federal minimum wage for tipped workers would lift 700,000 people out of poverty, and over half of these individuals would be workers of color. In addition, more than $12 billion would be pumped into our economy because of workers’ having more spending power, leading to more jobs and more economic growth. Doing right by these workers isn’t just good for the workers – it’s good for the economy.”

The tipped minimum wage has not only failed to increase along with national wages, it has been artificially suppressed by the extensive lobbying efforts of the National Restaurant Association, whose then-President Herman Cain struck a deal in 1996 to freeze the rate at the current $2.13 per hour, maintaining the restaurant industry’s status as the absolute lowest paying in the nation.

List of supporting organizations:

9to5, National Association of Working Women
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
Center for Community Change
Coalition on Human Needs
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Shift
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
National Council of Jewish Women
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Employment Law Project
National Family Farm Coalition
National Immigration Law Center
National Jobs for All Coalition
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
Progressive Congress
Public Citizen
Real Food Media
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Slow Food USA
Small Planet Institute
The Task Force
Transport Workers Union, Local 100
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Women
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Voices for Progress
Voter Participation Center
Women’s Media Center
Working Families Party