Media Advisory for June 2, 2015
Contact: Mike Araujo  (401) 952-0031,

TODAY AT 2PM — 100+ Living Wage Activists March on R.I. Statehouse in Support of Fair Wages for Tipped Workers

Rhode Island’s Interfaith Community Calls On Conscience of Lawmakers to Lift Tipped Workers Out of Poverty by Eliminating Sexist and Discriminatory Two-Tiered Wage System

Providence, R.I. — With a vote expected in the coming days on a bill that could raise wages for 22,000 Rhode Island workers from $2.89 an hour for the first time since 1996, faith leaders, restaurant workers, and community members will gather at 2pm for a march and rally calling for ‘one fair wage’ for restaurant workers.

At $2.89 an hour, Rhode Island’s tipped minimum wage is the lowest in all of New England and just a few cents higher than the abysmally low federal tipped minimum wage of $2.14 an hour. Rhode Island’s tipped workers have higher poverty rates and twice the food stamp usage rates of non-tipped workers.

WHERE: Activists will gather at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (15 Hayes Street, 02908) then march to the Statehouse.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Rev. Margaret Weiss of Bell Street Chapel, Mufti Ikram Ul-Haq of Fatwa Center of America, Matthew Kai of West-Side Tabernacle, Mira Biller of Temple Emanu-el, Lee Clasper-Torch of RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, current tipped restaurant worker Moira Walsh of ROC-RI and the Director of the Economic Progress Institute, Kate Brewster will speak during the program.

2:00pm – Event begins with convocation and teaching/
2:30pm – All speakers available for interviews
3:00pm – March begins
3:30pm – Arrive at Statehouse
4:00pm – Begin faith lobby

In addition to higher rates of poverty and unstable pay, the two-tiered wage system perpetuates a culture of sexual harassment. A recent national survey revealed that 90% of women tipped workers report experiencing sexual harassment on the job.

Due to systematic discrimination which shuts people of color out of the restaurant industry’s limited living wage jobs, tipped workers of color in Rhode Island are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty than its white tipped workers.

With a historic amount of states introducing ‘one fair wage’ legislation and the recently introduced federal bill, “Raise the Wage Act,” including total elimination of the federal tipped minimum wage — frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991 — 2015 has been a major year for tipped workers.

If passed, Rhode Island would join seven states that have already eliminated the two-tiered wage system.

National polling shows that 71% of the Americans support eliminating the two-tiered wage system and paying all workers the full, minimum wage.


The Rhode Island ‘One Fair Wage’ coalition includes RI-AFLCIO, Coalition of Labor Union Women, RI NOW and the Women’s Fund, Planned Parenthood of RI, RI Jobs With Justice, Working RI, NAACP Providence Chapter, Brown Student Labor Alliance, Fuerza Laboral, SEIU BJ, USAWRI, Bell St. Chapel, NEARI, Farm Fresh RI, HERE, Economic Progress Institute and more.

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 close to 14,000 worker-members across over 30 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.