Tag Archive | Food Workers

In solidarity with Michigan food workers

Strikes Waged Across the Country Come On the 12-Year Anniversary Since the Last Increase to the Federal Minimum Wage

Today, starting at 12:00, dozens of restaurant workers in Detroit will conduct a ‘wage strike’ at Mcdonald’s on 14142 Fordham in solidarity with McDonald’s cashiers and cooks going on strike. One Fair Wage leaders are demanding a full minimum wage plus tips in order to remain in the industry, with the overwhelming majority of them citing low wages and tips as a core reason for finding new employment.

The ‘wage strike’ is being organized by One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of tipped subminimum wage workers, and the Fight for $15 coalition, just before the July 24th date, which marks 12 years since the last increase to the federal minimum wage. 

WHERE: McDonald’s, 14142 Fordham, Detroit, MI
WHEN: Tuesday, July 20, 12:00pm EST
LOCAL CONTACT: Chantel Watkins, 313-623-9022

According to a report from One Fair Wage, 53% of all workers say they are considering leaving their restaurant jobs, with the overwhelming majority of them citing low wages and tips as a core reason for finding new employment. The report comes as restaurants (and other low wage paying businesses) across the country are reporting difficulty hiring new workers, with nearly 40% of restaurant companies saying they’re having trouble finding servers, cooks and other workers.

“The restaurant industry doesn’t have a worker shortage – it has a wage shortage. Tens of thousands of restaurant workers do not want to go back to work to earn poverty wages putting their lives on the line,” said Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage. “Now is the time to change that. With strikes taking place across the country this week, workers are demanding One Fair Wage – a full minimum wage wage with tips on top: the only way to put our nation back on the road to economic recovery and to ensure that restaurants and their workers can thrive as we rebuild our economy.”

The report, “It’s A Wage Shortage, Not A Worker Shortage: Why Michigan Restaurant Workers Are Leaving the Industry, and What Would Make Them Stay,” identifies how the core problem with restaurants recruiting workers isn’t the lack of workers available, but rather, the lack of workers who will go back to jobs that pay so little. The report finds that: 

  • 64% of Michigan workers are considering leaving their restaurant job with the pandemic. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Michigan workers report that they are leaving restaurant jobs due to low wages and tips. ‘Low wages and tips’ was the most popular reason for leaving the industry, nearly 7 percentage points higher than the second most popular reason — COVID health risks.
  • The vast majority of all Michigan respondents (77%) report having a full, stable, livable wage would make them consider staying at their job. Again, ‘full, stable, livable wages’ was by far the most popular factor that workers reported would make them stay at their job, nearly 30 percentage points higher than the second most popular factor — better COVID safety measures.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 Michigan workers (89%) say their tips have decreased during the pandemic, and nearly three quarters (76%) say their tips are down 50% or more.
  • Michigan workers report leaving their restaurant jobs due to hostility and harassment from customers at a rate 24% higher than the national average.
  • 82% of Michigan workers reported coming into contact with maskless individuals at least once per shift. 62% know someone that has died from COVID. 
  • Women in Michigan were most than twice as likely as men to report a noticeable increase in the levels of sexual harassment during the pandemic (51% v 24%).

SEE THE FULL REPORT HERE: https://onefairwage.site/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/OFW_WageShortage_MI-1.pdf

OKT Food Justice Series: Food Justice, Food Workers and a Living Wage

stop-supersizing-povertyThis is the fifth  in a series of weekly posts highlighting OKT’s Food Justice series. You can download series handouts here for free.

In May 2014, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill increasing Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018.

Most likely, this decision was made to undercut the Democratic Party’s statewide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. While, raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction, it ignores the larger issue of a living wage, especially as it relates to workers in the food industry.

A Living Wage is different than a minimum wage. It takes inflation into account inflation and addresses what an individual actually needs to earn in order to live in the current economy. Many organizers around the country are calling $15 an hour a Living Wage and have won campaigns to get such an hourly wage passed.

These $15 an hour campaigns are mostly being organized by workers in the food industry, restaurant workers, those in retail and the fast food industry. These food industry workers have been among the most exploited in the US in recent decades. They are challenging a system that has made billions in profits by paying low wages.

jrw-farmworker-1Almost all workers in the food industry earn an unjust wage—from migrant workers and those working in food processing plants to grocery store clerks and people in restaurants, institutional food cafeterias and fast food chains. In both the restaurant and agriculture industries, minimum wage laws do not apply. Migrant workers are at the mercy of whatever farm owners want to pay them; people working for tips in restaurants have a whole different minimum wage standard applied to them.

For instance, the minimum wage for tip workers in Michigan is $2.65 an hour. The 2014 minimum wage law would increase that to a meager $3.52 by 2018. Imagine working for those wages and relying on the generosity of the general public—especially when larger numbers of people in the US are experiencing poverty.

As an organization that promotes and practices food justice, Our Kitchen Table (OKT) supports the efforts of food workers who are organizing to demand a livable wage and better working conditions. Check these out:

OKT knows that more and more people want to eat local, nutritious food that is chemical- and GMO-free. However, it is equally important that we demand that growers, migrant workers, restaurant workers and fast food workers be paid a living wage, have safe working conditions and have the right to organize fellow workers.

taste-233x173When we enter a grocery store, shop at a farmers market, eat at a restaurant or look at food labels, we should ask:

  • How were the workers who provided us with this food treated?
  • What is the wage that these food workers make?
  • Is it a living wage?
  • Do these food workers have the right to organize?
  • Does this food we are about to purchase and eat promote food justice?

OKT recognizes that workers in the food industry need justice as well!