15 and #MeToo

“1 in 11 women work in the restaurant industry, and yet it's one of the lowest paid industries in the United States... with all the talk of #MeToo, there's been very little focus on the corporate actors that are behind setting these standards. The National Restaurant Association has lobbied since slavery times to keep wages for tipped workers abysmally low-- the current wage for tipped workers is $2.13/hour. 70% of those who work on that ridiculously low wage are women. Most of those women are working at iHop, Olive Garden, Red Lobsters, seeing all their wages go to taxes and having to support their families on tips. And managers are telling women to dress more sexy, show more cleavage, to get more tips... For millions of women, this is a first job, in high school, in college, and it sets the tone for the rest of their lives.”

That’s how Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) explained the relationship between #MeToo, living wages, and the fight for #1FairWage today on Democracy Now!

Building a mass movement that links the struggles for living wages and equity for women can win real policy change like eliminating the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. Here in Minnesota, where workers struggles of the past won the elimination of the subminimum wage, we need to fight to maintain the protection that tipped workers have. That means debunking the National Restaurant Association’s front groups, Pathway to $15 and Serving Those Serving, as they use fear and misinformation to try and rollback tipped workers’ rights.

Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour for all workers, with no tip carve-out, is a concrete way to support #MeToo and the movement to end harassment and discrimination. Workers in the largest female-dominated sector of the economy need living wages and the independence and dignity that comes with it!