PA NOW Supports Fast Food Worker Rights

NYC Rally To Raise The Minimum WageDid you know:

  • The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour.
  • The minimum for tipped workers is $2.13/hour plus tips.
  • Although employers are supposed to make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 for times when tipped workers don’t earn that much in tips, many do not.
  • That when the minimum wage was increased in 1996 and 2007, it didn’t include tipped workers?
  • Tipped workers haven’t had a raise since 1991?
  • A full-time minimum wage employee earns $15,080/year.
  • Poverty for a family of four is defined at $22,283/year.

The White House is seeking an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10/hour, an effort that so far has failed to win the necessary support in Congress. Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach and others seek to raise the minimum wage in the state to $12/hour, with built-in adjustments for inflation over time, and to abolish the tipped wage, which is $2.83.

Senator Leach hosted a State Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing Thursday on raising the minimum wage. Both sides of the argument were represented.

The refrain of business for decades now has been that raising the minimum wage will hurt business, and thereby hurt the poor.

The Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank, responded to the rallies by arguing that the minimum wage puts people out of work.

“Whatever level you want to set the minimum wage, it’s not the best way to help the poor,” Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Stelle said in a phone interview. “It’s not the best way to lift people out of poverty.”

Leach contends that without a decent wage, people simply can’t support themselves or their families:

“There are not a lot of employers with tons of extra employees they don’t need out of the goodness of their heart,” Leach said. “They hire who they need to work their business. Frankly, if … you want to come to Pennsylvania and the only way you can survive is by paying our workers starvation wages, I don’t want your jobs in Pennsylvania.

“Take them to Texas. We want good jobs that allow people to actually support their families.”

Other panelists agreed:

Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said 88 percent of workers affected by a federal minimum wage increase are older than age 21. Another 53 percent are full-time workers.

“This is not charity — this is the economy,” Ward said. “People who are working are contributing to the productivity of their companies. … Businesses adjust. They do. They’ve adjusted in a variety of ways.”

Last year at the annual convention, National NOW passed a Resolution to support the rights of restaurant workers:


WHEREAS, the federal minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour, or 30% of the federal minimum wage for non-tipped workers; and

WHEREAS, according to the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), restaurants are the fastest growing U.S. industry with the worst gender wage gap; and

WHEREAS, employees in the restaurant industry are less than 1% unionized, and unions would help to elevate the status of restaurant workers; and

WHEREAS, the vast majority of restaurant workers have no paid sick days and thus are forced to work while ill, potentially risking the health of their customers and co-workers; and

WHEREAS, sexual harassment is rampant and widely known but rarely reported in the restaurant industry;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Organization for Women (NOW) calls on Congress and state legislatures to enact living wage legislation with tipped workers to be guaranteed at least 70 percent of the federal minimum wage, as well as other wage-elevating legislation like the proposed federal Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (S. 460), and that the minimum wage increase proportionately with increases in the cost of living on an annual basis, and that increases in the wage be based on the full Consumer Price Index (CPI) not just the core CPI which excludes food and energy so that all future wage increases shall reflect the full cost of price inflation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW push to pass paid sick day legislation at the state and federal levels for all workers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NOW work to make the media aware of the significant impact on women and people of color, who are disproportionately affected by depressed wages and hostile workplaces in the restaurant industry; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that NOW chapters are encouraged to work in coalitions in their own states and local communities to push back against such inhumane treatment.