For Immediate Release: December 4, 2014
Contact: Maria Myotte,, (720) 352-6153

Leading Restaurant Worker Advocate on Fast-Food Strikes: Workers Rights are Civil Rights

The following is a statement from Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United co-founder & co-director, on today’s fast food strikes:

“We hope today’s actions continue to empower millions more restaurant workers — the women forced put up with sexual harassment regularly because they get $0 paychecks and live entirely off tips, the mothers who have to work two or three jobs to make sure they can put food on the table for their children, workers of color who routinely lose promotions and interviews to lesser qualified white candidates — to stand up for the right to work with dignity and get paid a living wage.

“It’s crucial that we recognize that the fight for workers’ rights and civil rights are one and the same. The majority of the absolute worst paying jobs in the country are restaurant jobs. It is not a coincidence that the restaurant industry is also the largest employer of people of color, or that women make up the majority of people forced to live off tips, getting paid a subminimum wage as low as $2.13 an hour by their employers. The largest full-service restaurant corporation in the world, Darden Restaurants, could start all their workers at $15 an hour for just an extra dime on every $5 in sales. The corporate resistance to paying a living wage is not because they cannot afford to do it, it’s because they just don’t want to. By standing together to demand the restaurant industry do right by all their workers and pay a living wage, we’re demanding our humanity be prioritized above corporate profits and bloated CEO salaries. We’re all in this together.”

Additional resources:

REPORT – The Great Service Divide: Occupational Segregation and Inequality in the US Restaurant Industry:

BRIEF – Darden: At The Drop of a Dime:

REPORT – The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the US Restaurant Industry:


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 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.