Would You Frequent a Restaurant If You Knew They Didn’t Have Sick Leave?

What if they paid their tippable employees less than $5 an hour? What if they paid their non-tipped employees less than $9 an hour (which, is approximately $18k per year)?

We talk all of the time about the need for sustainable food, or frequenting our local establishments. But we very rarely discuss what characteristics should be in place that would make a career in food service livable.

It’s not often that I say that you HAVE to read anything that I post or point to. But it is worth a moment of your time to review ROC National Diner’s Guide 2012: A Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of American Restaurants (Note: PDF), if only to give light to the piss poor wages and benefits that the majority of people who work in this field have to endure.

From their book:


With over 10 million workers nationwide, the U.S. restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the American economy, even during the current economic crisis. Unfortunately, despite the industry’s growth, restaurant workers suffer under poverty wages and poor working conditions. In particular, the industry suffers from:

1 LOW WAGES With a federal minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped workers and $7.25 for non-tipped workers, the median wage for restaurant workers is $8.90, just below the poverty line for a family of three. This means that more than half of all restaurant workers nationwide earn less than the federal poverty line.

2 NO PAID SICK LEAVE 90% of the more than 4,300 restaurant workers surveyed by the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) report not having paid sick leave, and two-thirds report cooking, preparing, and serving food while sick, making sick leave for restaurant workers not only a worker rights issue but a pressing concern in public health!

3 OCCUPATIONAL SEGREGATION Women, immigrants, and people of color hold lower-paying positions in the industry, and do not have many opportunities to move up the ladder. Among the 4,300 workers surveyed, we found a $4 wage gap between white workers and workers of color, and 73% reported not receiving regular promotions on the job.

Just some thoughts to mull over next time you head to your favorite restaurant.

(h/t boing boing!)