That was the headline on a New York Times editorial recently, endorsing a state bill to do away with the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. The editorial followed a long feature, for which the paper interviewed more than 60 servers, whose stories revealed just how vulnerable their reliance on tips makes them to harassment and sexual violence.
Seven states have already done away with the outlandishly low, federal $2.13 sub-minimum for tipped workers. The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) which has been gathering data on this for years, reports that those states have half the rates of sexual harassment as those with the two-tier system.
Now New York, DC, and Michigan are considering similar legislation. In an email, ROC executive director, Saru Jayaraman thanked the #metoo movement for giving the campaign extra ‘oomph’ and visibility.
Jayaraman was one of the activists invited to the #TimesUp Golden Globes earlier this year. She has the support of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin among others. If you haven’t seen our piece on the Grace and Frankie stars campaigning with ROC in Michigan this summer, you should check it out.
Certainly, attention helps. That’s why a coach load of other food workers were also in New York this week. Across town from the Times, tomato pickers from Immokalee, Florida, were singing and chanting on a five-day hunger strike outside the offices of Nelson Peltz the chairman of the board of Wendy’s in an effort to draw attention to sexual violence in their workplace.
The Immokalee Workers want Wendy’s to sign on to a Fair Food Program that protects workers throughout the food chain. It calls on growers to adhere to a set of fair labor rules, and buyers to buy only from farms that are signatories. Walmart, McDonalds’ Subway, and Taco Bell have all signed on. They pay only a little more - a penny-per-pound premium - to benefit the workers. But Wendy’s has yet to sign. They’re the most visible holdout, and the workers are hoping that by coming to New York, they could turn up the heat on the company.
Here’s where eaters and #metoo come in. The workers are encouraging customers to ask management about the pledge and why Wendy’s won’t sign on to protect the farm workers. Celebrities help, but you don’t have to be a celebrity. Eat at Wendy’s? Enjoy farm to table food? The organizers of both these campaigns are calling on you to take a stand for farm to table fairness.
And if you want to boycott, a boycott Wendy’s campaign has begun to spread. You can find out more at http://www.boycott-wendys.org/