Over 30 people were in attendance at an October 7th Congressional Briefing to discuss the anitquated tipped minimum wage. The message was loud and clear: we need an increase to the tipped minimum wage. Phillip Cooley owner of the restaurant Slow’s Bar B Q in Detroit said it best on the panel: “We believe that if workers are treated well and paid well, they in turn will treat consumers well, which combined with a good product translates into an overall profitable, sustainable business. The real bottom line is that we all do better, when we all do better!”
Congressional staffers left the briefing with full knowledge that injustice perpetuated by the tipped credit in our industry is not just affecting young college or high school students who are working a restaurant job for extra cash. But in fact like Gregory Edmonds, a ROC Chicago member on the panel said “family people are the workers, patrons and supervisors in the industry”. Gregory’s kids depend on his wages as do the families of many, many other workers in the restaurant industry. And as both Katye Allen a ROC Maine member and Saru Jayaraman, ROC United Co-Founder pointed out “restaurant jobs have replaced the good-paying manufacturing jobs” in many parts of our country. So if we want prosperity, we must improve the jobs in the industry.

Now we have to follow up with the Congresspeople who sent staff to the briefing and get them to sign on as co-sponsors to the WAGES Act. Currently we have 31 cosponsors, our goal is to hit 50 before the end of the year. Congresswoman Donna Edwards the author of the WAGES Act congratulated Paul Sonn of the National Employment Law Project, for his presentation and recent report on the tipped minimum wage, co-authored with Raj Nayak. The Congresswoman was present at the briefing, even though she was technically managing the floor of the House of Representatives at the moment, demonstrating a deep commitment to tipped workers and the WAGES Act.

After the briefing a delegation consisting of ROC members Gregory Edmonds, Katye Allen and staff visited the offices of Congressmen Mike Michaud and Bill Foster. Both offices were receptive but with many questions about the impact of an increase to the minimum wage on small business and of the nature of restaurant jobs. With a tremendous amount of skill Gregory and Katye answered those questions and pushed the Congressmen towards co-sponsoring the WAGES Act. As with the attendees of the briefing, now the work is to follow up with them and make sure they in fact sign on as co-sponsors.