At the Out From Behind the Apron forum two weeks ago, numerous restaurant workers voiced their disgust about racial discrimination in their industry. And now, a new report offers some troubling statistics to further justify their anger.
On Monday, the nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center United released “Behind the Kitchen Door,” a series of reports that looked at the workplace situations of restaurant workers in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami, all cities where the minimum wage has been $2.13 for the last 20 years.
Based on their survey of some 1,700 workers and interviews with 100 employers, as well as additional data gathered from 4,300 workers and 240 employers in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, and Portland, Maine, the researchers found that “workers of color … are concentrated in the industry’s ‘bad jobs,'” while white workers tend to disproportionately hold the few “good jobs” — and are paid on average $4 per hour more than their non-white counterparts.
Furthermore, the report reaffirms that most restaurant work is badly compensated: On average, workers earn $15,000 a year, 90 percent don’t have health insurance, and 80 percent don’t have paid sick days. Unsurprisingly, many workers also reported overtime and minimum-wage violations. ROCU timed the release of their report to coincide with Congresswoman Donna Edwards’s reintroduction of the WAGES Act, which would raise the minimum wages for tipped workers from $2.13 to $3.75, or 70 percent of the national standard.
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