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- Behind The Kitchen Door
Hundreds Gather for Industry Summits Around Reports’ Findings:
Low Wages, Few Sick Days and Lack of Health Insurance Among Restaurant Workers
Three new reports on the wages and working conditions of restaurant workers in Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, DC, as well as a National Executive Summary, were released today, Monday, February 14, at city-wide summits organized by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. These reports represent the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on these local restaurant industries, and were carried out with primary research support from university professors in all three cities.
The National Day of Action was covered by over a dozen national and local media sources. Below is a listing of the most relevant ones.
Kansas City Star - http://economy.kansascity.com/?q=node/9829
Florida Trend - http://www.floridatrend.com/article.asp?aID=54534
The Glutster Blog – http://theglutster.com/2011/02/restaurantequality/
Click below for the following reports:
Los Angeles: Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality & Opportunity in Los Angeles, the Nation’s Largest Restaurant Industry. Click here for the Executive Summary.
Washington, DC: Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality & Opportunity in Washington, DC’s Thriving Restaurant Industry. Click here for the Executive Summary.
Click here for the National Executive Summary: Behind the Kitchen Door: A Multi-Site Study of the Restaurant Industry.
Valentine’s Day is the restaurant industry’s busiest day of the year, but some workers are only making $2.13 per hour – the minimum wage for tipped workers. Speakers at the summits included: Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed; Assistant Secretary of Labor Bill Spriggs; and Tom Saenz, General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF).
Legislation was also introduced on 2/14 by Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD), which would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in twenty years from the current level of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour. By 2012 the tipped minimum wage would increase to at least $5.50 per hour, if the bill passes.
In addition to the summits in Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, DC, restaurant workers met with federal legislators on Feb. 14 in Chicago (with Congressman Danny Davis and several state legislators), New York (with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke), New Orleans (with Congressman Cedric Richmond); Detroit (with Congressman Hansen Clarke); as well as in Florida (with Congressman David Rivera) and Arkansas (with Senator Mark Pryor). Here are some highlights:
The three reports released on Valentine’s Day, entitled “BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOOR: Inequality & Opportunity in Los Angeles, Miami and Washington DC’s Thriving Restaurant Industries” are based on 1,704 surveys of restaurant workers and interviews with nearly 100 employers. They have been compiled with similar reports by ROC in five other cities into a National Executive Summary based on more than 4,300 worker surveys and 240 employer interviews nationwide. The studies demonstrate that workers in one of the nation’s largest sectors largely lack paid sick days, fair wages and access to health insurance. Tipped workers have not received a government-mandated increase since 1991, and worse, 11% of food workers in Washington, DC, 4% in Los Angeles, and 17% in Miami are illegally not earning the minimum wage, even after including tips in their salary.
As all the great activity was going on in the real world a national audio conference was taking place featuring Congreswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) Sponsor and Author of the WAGES Act, ROC United Co-Director Saru Jayaraman, and Director of Family Values @ Work, Ellen Bravo. The conference had great participation overall and has now become a source of reference for other members of Congress on our bill.
The media coverage, the Congressional visits, the national audio conference and the Summits all together make great strides towards putting workers and consumers first in our economy. Thank you for your support and let’s keep the heat on!