Contact: Maria Myotte, maria [at] rocunited [dot] org

160,000 Tipped Workers Left Behind in Michigan’s New Minimum Wage Law — Still Left With Just $3.50/Hour

Statement can be attributed to Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, on Michigan’s minimum wage increase

“This week Governor Snyder signed Michigan’s new minimum wage law–raising it to $9.25 an hour. This law is not a win for many Michiganders. Through intense lobbying by the National Restaurant Association and other interests, more than 160,000 tipped workers in Michigan, over 74% of whom are women, are stuck with a base wage of $3.50 an hour– less than $1 per hour increase over their old wage–and still far below the poverty line.

“For three bucks and fifty cents an hour, many of Michigan’s mothers, wives and daughters live day -by -day, shift-by-shift to see if they will earn enough income to cover their rent, food, and transportation while raising a family. They have to endure five times the national rate of sexual harassment, performing for customers to earn their wages, and for their employers to obtain the best shifts. This is not a culture that should be perpetuated at any price, and the sub minimum wage makes it all the worse.

“Michiganders know that fair labor practices are good business, and eliminating the tipped minimum wage would be a huge leap forward, and a boon to the economy. Facts bear this out: The seven states that have one minimum wage for all employees see higher sales and more growth than the other 43 states with a tip penalty on their workers. These seven states include smaller states like Montana, as well as the state with the largest restaurant industry, California. Claims that eliminating the sub-minimum will ruin the restaurant industry are merely false alarms sounded by those who rely on a system in which the government allows businesses to make their customers pay the salaries of their employees, a practice that exists in no other industry on Earth.

“We want to thank and congratulate our fellow coalition members at RAISE Michigan, a coalition of organizations working to raise the minimum wage. Without all of the hard work to collect more than 300,000 signatures, the minimum wage would not have been elevated as an issue, and certainly wouldn’t have been increased. With ROC’s leadership and a strong group of grassroots community organizations, together we exceeded expectations and successfully propelled the minimum wage to the top of state legislators’ agenda. But while it is step forward, this compromise does not do nearly enough to improve the lives of Michigan’s tipped workers, who will be getting a raise of less than a dollar and will still be making poverty-level wages. ROC will not be satisfied until tipped workers across the state are treated like full employees earning at least the full minimum wage and we will continue to fight to eliminate the tipped minimum wage.”


Co-founded by labor rights leader Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News) ROC United has grown to over 13,000 members across 26 cities in the US, winning 13 worker-led campaigns, totaling $7 million in stolen tips and wages.