• Press

Media Advisory for: February 12th, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, 720.352.6153, maria@gmail.com

TOMORROW, 2/13 — Direct Action and Rally Planned at Times Square Olive Garden to Demand Parent Company, Darden Restaurants Inc, Pay Living Wages to Tipped Workers

One Billion Rising Will Join Restaurant Workers, Community Leaders, and ROC United co-founder and co-director, Saru Jayaraman to Call on New York State to Raise the Tipped Minimum Wage

Broadcast quality footage of the events will be made available here: https://rocunited.org/news/roc-press-releases/

New York, NY — As Governor Cuomo and Labor Commissioner Musolino are expected to decide on recent proposals from the New York wage board to increase the state’s subminimum wage, ‘One Fair Wage’ advocates will take action at Darden-owned Olive Garden on February 13th, or 2/13, to raise awareness of the lower, tipped minimum wage, which has been $2.13 an hour since 1991 at the federal level, and is currently $5 in New York State.

Darden Restaurants Inc is the largest full-service restaurant corporation in the world and the largest employer of tipped restaurant workers — a majority female workforce. Nationally, servers use food stamps at double the rate of the US workforce and are three-times as likely to live in poverty. The EEOC has also targeted the restaurant industry as the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges, further validated by research showing that 90% of tipped female workers report experiencing sexual harassment on the job.

WHAT: Direct action inside Olive Garden, rally outside afterwards
WHEN: 12:45pm – 1:30pm
WHERE: Olive Garden, 2 Times Square, 10036
WHO: Renowned feminist activist and Tony-award winning playwright, Eve Ensler; leading women’s rights advocate and president of NOW, Terry O’Neill; CEO of Ms. Foundation, Theresa Younger; CNN correspondent, Sally Kohn; co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Saru Jayaraman

According to a poll released in early January, there is overwhelming bipartisan public support among New York State voters for increasing the tipped minimum wage to match the regular minimum wage, with 75% of likely voters in support of an increase.

Under New York’s wage board proposals, the state’s tipped minimum wage would be raised to $7.50 an hour by the end of the year and an additional $1 an hour in New York City (if the state legislature votes for a higher minimum wage for the City). The proposal also calls for a review of whether the current system of cash wages and tip credits should be eliminated altogether.

However, in two-to-one vote, the Board endorsed an alarming and unprecedented provision that would effectively undermine these advances. It calls for an additional $1.00 per hour “tip credit” if employers can prove that tipped workers earn 120% of the full minimum wage (or 150% in New York City). The proposal would roll back wage gains for workers made by the rest of the recommendation. Equally bad for businesses, it would create an uneven playing field by allowing some employers to pay their workers less than the competition and open owners up to additional liability by adding complexities to an already cumbersome system.

Today’s action is part of ROC United’s One Fair Wage campaign, a national and state-by-state to effort to increase the lower, tipped minimum wage to match the regular minimum wage.


Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate 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 worker-members across 26 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.