Restaurant Workers Nationwide Hold Actions To Increase Minimum Wage

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Restaurant Opportunities Center United, Feb 18 2009

After nearly 20 years of struggling under a stagnated federal minimum wage of $2.13, thousands of restaurant workers across the country have declared "2-13" (February 13th) a National Day of Action for Tipped Workers. In seven different cities across the country, they have organized a series of public actions that will highlight the need to raise the federal minimum wage. Restaurant workers are demanding that the tipped minimum wage be raised to at least 60% of the regular minimum wage. The tipped minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 per hour for the last 18 years while the minimum wage for all other workers continues to rise, Representative Dale Kildee from Michigan's 5th Congressional District said, "On one of the busiest nights in restaurants [the night before Valentine's Day], we must remember those who work in the industry. Restaurant workers are a vital part of our economy. I support an increase in the tipped minimum wage." As the nation's largest private sector workforce, the nation's 13.1 million restaurant workers are the back bone of the economy, even during the current economic crisis. The recession can be addressed by increasing wages for low-wage workers, who will then be able to spend more, creating an upward spiral and improving the overall economy. On February 13th, the eve of the second busiest day for the restaurant industry, hundreds of restaurant workers are raising their voices, so that they too can have a say in the policies that affect their lives. Here's a "taste":

New Orleans, LA

Restaurant workers delivered a hand-made Valentine's Day candy to Senator Mary Landrieu. The heart-shaped candies all had a message of hope on them, reading "Raise the tipped min wage to 60%" as well as "$2.13 is not enough for a family". The candy along with postcards with a similar message were delivered to Senator Landrieu's office on 2.13.09.

New York, NY

Restaurant workers had a ceremonial "tipping of the jars" event outside of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. The workers deposited symbolic IOU's into giant tip-jars that read "Here's a tip: raise the federal tipped minimum wage to 60%" and other messages encouraging Congress to increase the tipped minimum wage.

Miami, FL

Restaurant workers delivered postcards made to look like checks made out for $2.13 to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The postcards request an increase to the tipped minimum wage.

Chicago, IL

Uniform-laden restaurant workers and their allies delivered a home-made "text-apple-pie" to Congressman Danny Davis' office. The "text" on the apple pie requested an increase in the tipped minimum wage.

Detroit, MI

Restaurant workers presented Representative Dale Kildee with a "valentine of appreciation". Kildee has said that Congress should raise the tipped minimum wage. Restaurant workers showed their gratitude by presenting Kildee with a giant Valentine's Day card.

Portland, ME

Restaurant workers held a press conference to draw attention to the federal tipped minimum wage, the workers and advocates asked Maine's entire federal delegation to support an increase to both the federal minimum wage and tipped minimum wage. Following the event, bundles of postcards were delivered to Senator Susan Collins, Senator Olympia Snowe, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

Washington, DC

A delegation of restaurant workers from across the nation met with congressional leaders to encourage them to increase the tipped minimum wage.