As fast-food workers across the nation continue to call for $15 an hour to make a living wage, ROC United has brought along Gloria Steinem to stand by their movement for a higher tipped minimum wage, which has been $2.13 federally since 1991.
"A common misconception is that servers are mostly men at fine-dining restaurants pulling down a six-figure salary, or teens just earning spending cash," Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of ROC United said in a press release. "The reality is that over 70 percent of servers are women. Of the 5 million women in the restaurant industry, 2 million are mothers, and 1 million are single mothers. More than 60 percent of restaurant workers are over 24, and servers use food stamps at twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce and are three times as likely to live in poverty."
Of course, every state's tipped minimum wage varies. In New York City, food service workers are paid $5 with a $2.25 tip credit, assuming that they get at least $2.25 an hour in tips. Of the five most expensive states or areas to live in (Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., New York, and Hawaii), New Jersey is the only one at $2.13 minimum wage (with a $5.12 tip credit). Washington, D.C. follows close behind with $2.77/hour tipped minimum wage, while Maryland has a minimum tipped wage of $3.63.
As Steinem notes, however, it's not always about the money. "If you are living off tips, it means you are not getting a living wage," she says in the video below. "It means you are dependent on the kindness and generosity of strangers... you're depending on currying favor from the customer."
Part of the change she wants to see also includes seeing service workers as people, instead of servants. "We need to remember the person serving us is a person, and not treat them as an institution," she said. "There are people who care deeply about whether or not everything on their plate has been grown within 100 miles, but do they care about the people who are serving?" Watch the full video below.