At just $2.13 at the federal level, the tipped minimum wage forces our brothers and sisters in the restaurant industry to rely on tips, rather than a fair wage from their employers to make ends meet. ROC continues to call for the elimination of the subminimum wage system, and establishment of one fair, living wage for all, tipped or untipped.
Nationwide those employed in the restaurant industry are standing up for fairness and justice. They are not alone. A growing list of restaurateurs are standing with their employees to ensure fair wages and workplace conditions at their establishments and across the industry.
One such restaurateur is Adam Orman. Orman is a managing partner of L’Oca d’Oro in Austin, Texas. His moving op-ed for the Austin American-Stateman details the necessity of One Fair Wage for the restaurant industry in Austin and nationwide.
Many underpaid restaurant workers are undocumented and have little recourse. Seventy percent of them are women and, notably, restaurants are the source of more sexual harassment claims than any other industry, according to a 2014 study by the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, a labor organization. This makes sense. Working for tips means you are working for the customer — and employers have little incentive to side with their expendable $2.13-an-hour employees.
Seven states pay One Fair Wage, meaning they do not allow a subminimum option. While Texas is not one of them, L’Oca d’Oro, Black Star Co-Op and a few other restaurants voluntarily pay all employees at least the federal minimum wage. In March, I traveled with other restaurant owners to Washington, D.C., to lobby for One Fair Wage with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and learned that there is no one way for every restaurant to tackle this yet.
The success of our movement depends on a dynamic coalition of those working in the restaurant industry, including both employees and employers. We commend Adam Orman for speaking out.