Since the pandemic, the demands of restaurant and catering workers have essentially been limited to one thing: the need for higher wages. Grueling, “essential” service work has been fatal for many, remains dangerous, and has been done for too long with under-wage or a minimum wage that is not really worth living.. However a new study by One Fair Wage shows that things could go well. The organization has documented 1,621 restaurants “that have raised wages to tip the full minimum wage, with an average wage of about $ 13.50 – in 41 states where the vast majority of restaurants used to have sub-minimum wages Paid $ 5 or less this year. „
The study is based on interviews with restaurant owners and a scan of job postings from August 24 to September 16, 2021. As economists have pointed out, low wages have become a hard line for workers. „By May 2021, we found that over half (53%) of service workers say they are considering quitting and the majority are leaving because their wages and tips are too low,” OFW wrote. „Almost 8 in 10 of these workers (78%) say they would only stay or return to restaurants if they received a full, viable wage with a tip on top.” For many restaurants, increasing wages is one of them Become a necessity if you want to stay with staff.
Of the restaurants surveyed, those in Mississippi had the lowest average wage of $ 8.86 an hour before tipping (the state minimum wage is $ 2.13 an hour), while those in Massachusetts had $ 18.37 an hour Hour (the state minimum wage is $ 5.55). one hour). OFW also surveyed restaurant owners about their willingness to raise wages, especially at a time when owners were struggling to keep their businesses afloat. „We made a decision to get rid of the minimum wage in our restaurants and introduced a model where all employees earn above the minimum wage, with tips being passed on to all hourly non-management employees,” said Katie Button, owner of Curate in Raleigh, NC. “We immediately saw better and fairer pay for all of our employees. It literally changed lives. ”
Obviously, a casual survey of a small percentage of restaurants and their job postings is far from comprehensive or conclusive. As Family dinner indicates an OFW hotel offers jobs for $ 40 an hour currently has a listing for a server location that only pays $ 8 an hour. But according to other sources, things are actually going uphill. The latest release from the Labor Statistics Office says the average hourly earnings in the leisure and hospitality industry was $ 16.60 in August 2021, down from $ 14.72 in August 2020 Working hours have stayed roughly the same.
The drive for higher wages in the restaurant industry is intended to counter the National Restaurant Association’s narrative, which argues that raising the minimum wage and abolishing the minimum wage would be disastrous for the restaurant industry. In February, Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the NRA, opposed incorporating the wage increase bill into the Biden-Harris Covid Debt Relief Act, saying, “The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from accelerated wage increases No tip credit. ”The argument goes that higher wages will increase menu prices, which will deter guests and trigger a death spiral for the entire industry.
OFW notes that smaller menu increases can come with higher wages and that more needs to be done to support the industry so everyone can make a living. But the legacy of tipping means you have already underpaid for your meals as the lower prices can only exist through paying poverty wages for workers. “We rarely see it that often [restaurant owners’] Dreams depend on worker poverty, ”Mireya Loza, a visiting professor at Georgetown University who specializes in food studies and labor, told Eater. „And if you ask me whether my ultimate dream is really based on the submission or poverty of the employees, it is not a dream.”
One Fair Wage hopes this will lead to more legislative action in the area of wages. “With this shift in the restaurant industry towards full, viable wages with tipping, it is imperative that policymakers support both employees and employers in the restaurant industry by establishing federal and state guidelines to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour and end adopting the minimum wage for workers with tips, ”Saru Jayaraman, executive director of One Fair Wage, said in a statement. “After 150 years of tolerating poverty wages since emancipation, workers refuse to work for anything less than a full, viable wage, with tips on top, and responsive employers need policymakers who support their responsiveness by creating a level playing field create and millions of people are signaling to workers that it is worth going back to work in restaurants. „
Restaurants are still struggling, and those who made it through the pandemic are working at even thinner margins as they deal with food shortages and make up for over a year of intermittent sales, if there were any sales at all. This survey is far from comprehensive, but OFW says that instead of slowing down their businesses, the restaurants they surveyed „feel they need to move on to a fair wage in order to recruit, fully reopen and survive” talent. . Hopefully other restaurants can follow suit successfully.