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Monifa Bandele's picture

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.  [1]

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. [2]

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. [3]

Want to speak up right now to support fairness for tipped workers' wages? You can! Click here to find our  action link:
And for more stories and analysis, don't miss our blog carnival below, featuring the voices of a restaurant owner, an expert on wages and Rep. Donna Edwards among many others. Check out the links below and share your thoughts in the comments. Thank you!

Cartoon by Marco Canepa at Para español, haga clic aquí.

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