• Press

For Immediate Release: September 11, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720 352 6153

Hillary Clinton Says Tipped Minimum Wage A Disgrace — Calls For Raising Minimum Wage with ‘No Exceptions’

The following statement should be attributed to Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), the largest restaurant workers’ rights advocacy organization in the country.

“Any candidate running on women’s rights and raising the minimum wage has to contend with fixing the two-tiered wage system because women make up the vast majority of tipped workers.

“Yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s comments at a Women For Hillary event in Columbus, Ohio rightly spotlighted the urgent need to raise the lower, separate wage for tipped workers —  frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991 due to undue influence of the National Restaurant Association — and establish one, fair minimum wage for all workers:

‘That’s why I am running to raise the minimum wage — to end the disgrace of something called the tipped minimum wage.

You may not know about this. This is where if you work in certain jobs like in a hair salon or you’re a waitress or maybe a bartender, you can in some states in our country be paid only $2.13 an hour, because the idea is, you’re supposed to make up the rest in tips. And you know what happens? That money doesn’t get to the people who earned it. Wages are actually stolen. So we’re going to end that. We’re going to raise the minimum wage with no exceptions for everybody.’

“The existence of a lower, separate wage for mostly women workers amounts to legislated pay inequality. And a result of living off tips for the majority of your take-home pay is having to endure rampant sexual harassment — a problem uniquely endemic to the restaurant industry because women are forced to live off the generosity of customers instead of a stable wage paid directly to them by their employer. In fact, ROC’s research shows that 90 percent of women tipped restaurant workers face sexual harassment as part of their job.

“It’s been a quarter century since the federal tipped minimum wage was raised. In that time, countless millions of women have gone through the restaurant industry facing the indignity being forced to accept an abysmally low wage, objectification and harassment as a job requirement. By establishing one, fair minimum wage — with no exceptions — America’s next president will make this country a more just and safe place for all women.”


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 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.