by Marion Nestle
Nov 9 2022

It’s time to make minimum wage laws apply to ALL workers (no, they don’t at present)

Here’s a report worth reading:

For reasons of history—and, alas, racism—laws requiring minimum wages do not apply to restaurant workers, farm workers, and home employment workers, all mostly people of color.

This report focuses on restaurant workers who depend on tips:

Unique among pay inequities, the subminimum wage for tipped workers was an original pay gap created intentionally to deny Black women any wage at all, forcing them to live on tips. This original and intentional pay inequity has been compounded over the last 160 years since Emancipation by ongoing inequities in hiring by employers and tipping and harassment by customers — resulting in an unlivable situation for Black women. The fact that Black women persist in the restaurant industry is a testament to many of these workers’ pride in their work as hospitality professionals who deserve to be remunerated as such.

The report offers three key findings:

  • Black women in the industry continue to earn less than white men.
  • Black women are more likely to not earn enough tips to bring them to the minimum wage, and more likely to experience customer harassment.
  • Black women are leaving the industry, but are more resilient than others.

It presents data arguing for having minimum wage laws apply to all workers.  Seven states have passed such laws; the rest need to.