Recent protests by fast food workers have brought to light the need to raise the minimum wage on both a local and federal level. However, an entire class of workers including tipped workers, are exempt from minimum wage laws. The federal minimum wage for a tipped worker is only $2.13 and has not increased since 1993. The difference between this wage and the minimum wage for all other workers is not always made up by tips, and low-wage restaurant workers are left to bear the brunt of this inequity.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), along with the Food Chain Workers Alliance and Food First, released a new report, Food Insecurity of Restaurant Workers, a first comprehensive look at food security and employment conditions of workers in the restaurant industry.
The report, based on over 280 surveys and interviews with restaurant workers in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, highlights the crucial ways in which restaurant workers’ employment conditions affect their ability to feed themselves.
Some key findings:
- An astonishing 41% of NYC restaurant workers surveyed were food insecure
- 67% of undocumented restaurant workers surveyed were food insecure
- Tipped workers in NYC were 30% more likely to be food insecure than their non-tipped counterparts.