Pressure is mounting on Congress to approve legislation to increase the minimum wage, including an increase for tipped workers who have not seen a raise in more than 20 years.
In a major announcement on Capitol Hill today, a new association of restaurant owners who support fair wages and benefits for their employees was unveiled. At the event, restaurant owners, activists, and lawmakers called on Congress to pass legislation to increase the minimum wage.
"A $2.13 an hour wage for tipped workers in this day and age is a national embarrassment and it's unacceptable," said Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at a Capitol Hill press conference. "We've traveled the low road long enough. It's time to raise the tipped minimum wage, and it's time to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers. Business success depends on a skilled and a satisfied workforce, and paying a sustainable wage to employees is good for business by helping to increase employee productivity and reliability."
Miller, the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) joined Restaurant Opportunity Centers United (ROC United) co-director Saru Jayaraman and restaurant owners from across the country to call for an increase in the minimum wage for all employees, including tipped workers. In March, Miller introduced H.R. 1010, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and ensure the tipped minimum wage begins to increase in value.
After languishing at $2.13 an hour since 1993, Miller's bill would increase the required cash wage for tipped workers in annual 85-cent increases, until the tip credit reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. It would also increase the federal minimum wage in three steps, from its present $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Furthermore, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation each year thereafter to ensure hard working Americans' paychecks keep up with the times. Edwards is a long-time advocate for increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers.
Jayaraman of ROC United announced the formation of Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment (RAISE), an alternative restaurant association of nearly 100 business owners across the country who are fighting for the needs of business owners and employers and their employees rather than the interests of large food industry corporations and their lobbyists.
"I'm proud to stand with responsible restaurant owners determined to change the conversation in Washington and across the country with the help of RAISE, because change really can happen when people of good faith and intentions come together to speak with one voice," added Miller. "And that message is clear: it's time for $10.10 an hour. It makes sense, it's sustainable, and it helps our economy with the higher wages going right back into the economy. American workers have earned a raise -- we've got work to do to see they get it."