The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers has been $2.13 for the past 20 years. That’s right! Two dollars and thirteen cents can’t even buy a gallon of gas or milk; yet, it is the hourly federal minimum wage for thousands of restaurant workers – most of whom are women!
“I have worked as a server for over 30 years. Although I have worked almost 80 hours a week for many years, I am still unable to get credit… Meanwhile my cost of living keeps going up. Our industry is very volatile and there are very few safeguards to protect our jobs.“– Barb, MomsRising member
This is a bad situation. And women are bearing the brunt of this problem since 71% of servers and 66% of tipped restaurant workers are women. For 20 years now, tipped workers in the restaurant industry and elsewhere have toiled for a miserable wage. As a result, this workforce of mostly women has three times the poverty rate of the rest of the United States workforce, and more than half of all restaurant workers live below the federal poverty line for a family of three. 
The WAGES Act would:
- Raise the minimum wage of tipped employees from the current level of $2.13 per hour to $3.75 per hour 90 days after enactment.
- Raise the minimum wage of tipped employees to $5.00 per hour one year after enactment.
- Finally, two years after enactment, the tipped minimum wage would be increased to 70% of minimum wage, but no less than $5.50 per hour.
Talk about a “wage gap”! Currently, women working in the restaurant industry are facing a wage Grand Canyon!
Female restaurant workers are paid less! The typical full-time, year round, female restaurant worker is paid 79% of what her male counterpart earns. Among servers, the industry’s largest job, full time, year round, female servers are paid 68% of what their male counterparts are paid ($17,000 vs. $25,000 annually). Black female servers are paid only 60% of what male servers overall are paid, costing them a deficit of more than $400,000 over a lifetime. 
The majority of restaurant servers are women. Women hold only 19% of chef positions, one of the highest paying restaurant positions with a median wage of $19.23 per hour. 
- Back Us Up! Tell Congress: Don't Shortchange Women!, Monifa Bandele, MomsRising.org
- Showing America's servers some love for Valentine's Day, Rep. Donna Edwards, MD, and Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunities Center
- Restaurant Owner Testifies in Support of Increasing Tipped Workers' Wages, Barbara Sibley, owner of La Palapa restaurant
- Fighting Gender Inequality in the Restaurant Industry, Ellen Bravo, Family Values @ Work
- Restaurant Industry Supersizes Worker Injustice, Linda Meric, 9to5.org
- $2.13 an hour?, Ruth Martin, MomsRising.org
- 18 Short Personal Stories from Tipped Wage Workers Who Have Been There, edited by Monifa Bandele and Ruth Martin
- Tip Your Servers This Valentine's Day, Laura Flanders, The Nation
- $2.13 no compra ni un galón de leche, Elisa Batista, MomsRising.org
- Here's a Tip: Why Your Waiter Needs a Real Minimum Wage, Anna Haley-Lock, University of Wisconsin
- Un dueño de restaurante salvadoreño en California a favor del proyecto de ley WAGES, Nicolas Sanchez, Owner of Platano Salvadoran Restaurant
- Menos propinas para trabajadores, Univision Noticias
- New report highlights dismal treatment of women workers in restaurant industry, Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista