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Behind the Kitchen Door: Low Road Jobs, High Road Opportunities in Maine’s Growing Restaurant Industry

In 2010, ROC-Maine released Behind the Kitchen Door: Low Road Jobs, High Road Opportunities in Maine’s Growing Restaurant Industry, the most comprehensive study of Maine’s restaurant industry ever conducted.  The research included 525 surveys of restaurant workers, 30 worker interviews, 30 employer interviews, and government data analysis.  The findings illustrated the great need for reform that can achieve a sustainable industry in which workers, employers, and diners can prosper together. 

Findings

  • The median hourly wage for restaurant workers is $8.92 per hour (including tips).  However, 16.3% of restaurant workers surveyed reported making a livable wage.
  • Most restaurant workers in Maine receive few benefits.  Only 10.4% of workers surveyed receive health insurance through their employers, and 89.2% of workers do not get paid sick days.
  • A large number of workers are not paid for all the work they perform.  24.9% of restaurant workers in Maine were not paid properly for working overtime, and 27.4% of workers worked “off the clock” without being paid.
  • Discrimination on the basis of race is apparent in Maine’s restaurant industry.  More than half of African American survey respondents (58.3%) worked in the lower-wage quick service segment, compared to 44% of white workers.
  • Poor working conditions can have a negative impact on consumers.  25.7% of workers that have experienced labor violations reported that they have cut corners while working in ways that may have harmed consumers, compared to 10.1% of workers that have not experienced labor violations.
Download the full report here