Tipped workers and the fight for a livable wage

Tipped workers make a subminimum wage and during the pandemic tips have declined while harassment has increased. This hour, improving work and wages for tipped workers.

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(photo credit, Luke Sekou)

(photo credit, Luke Sekou)

Tipped workers have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic. On today’s show, we learn how those workers have been marginalized for decades, the ethics of tipped wage jobs and why activists, researchers and policymakers are calling for a switch to fair wages for all industry staff.


Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America.

Also Featured

Kissy Lazo, longtime tipped wage worker from Philadelphia

Olivia Caceres, General Manager of the restaurant Martha, which switched to a fair wage model and pays all staff $20 per hour

Interview Highlight

Jayaraman on sexual harassment: When you are completely dependent on the tips at a wage of $2.13 to $2.83, you’re going to have to put up with whatever the customer says to you. If they’re a man, how they touch you, how they treat you, how they talk to you. You feel like you have to tolerate it. Not only do you feel like you have to tolerate it, the idea of complaining to your boss about it is so limited in our industry, that it really results in either some form of retaliation or most employers just saying, “Ignore it, that’s just the way it is.” Whereas, in a state where you get a full minimum wage, you can actually tell the customer “Buzz off, I don’t want to put up with this,” and walk away from the treatment because you can count on that wage…from your boss like every other worker in every other industry.

From The Reading List

Jayaraman’s Book: One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America

New York Times: How to Make an Unloved Job More Attractive? Restaurants Tinker With Wages

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