Morning Awful: Waitressing at Slave Wages
Posted on February 15, 2012 by Matt Osborne
Okay, let’s say you’re a Hollywood producer looking to make a big budget movie about a girl who gets lured into a trap by evil, sadistic men intending to sell her into slavery. Excited, you get Liam Neeson’s agent on the phone and start up the industry buzz machine — until the script comes in, at which point you find out it’s not set in the back alleys of a European capitol but in that diner down the street:
The report shows that women who work in the (restaurant) industry face systematic discrimination, poverty wages, a lack of sick days, and five times more harassment than the general female workforce. One major cause of poverty for these working women is that restaurant lobbyists have succeeded in keeping the federal minimum wage for servers and other tipped workers frozen at only $2.13 per hour for the past 20 years.
In that same two-decade time frame, Congress has raised its own pay more than a dozen times.
Since 52% of all restaurant workers are women, but 66% of tipped workers are women, the lower minimum wage for tipped workers is essentially creating legalized gender inequity in the restaurant industry. In most industries, the gender wage gap is due to employer discrimination, but in the restaurant industry, it’s also a matter of law. (Emphasis mine)
The ‘graffs above come from the intro page to Tipped Over the Edge: Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry; click here to read the .PDF file. Among the most salient passages:
Servers, who are 71 percent female, comprise the largest group of all tipped workers, and experience almost three times the poverty rate of the workforce as a whole. Consequently, servers rely on food stamps at nearly double the rate of the general population. Essentially, many of the workers who serve America its food cannot afford to eat. (Emphasis mine)
As I keep saying, whenever you hear someone moaning about the death of the American work ethic you should immediately inform them that the American job murdered it. These are America’s most-vulnerable, and often hardest-working, people. They deserve a hell of a lot better than they’re getting — from all of us.