Millionaire businessman arrested at restaurant worker protest: we need better wages
- What our economy is experiencing is not a shortage of labor, it is a shortage of wages.
- Our economic recovery has stalled because wages have been frozen for a decade.
- It is time we gave American tipped workers the pay rise they deserve. The financial future of our countries depends on it.
- Brian is a member of the Patriotic Millionaires and co-founder of The Delta Fund.
As the United States moves into the recovery phase of the pandemic, tip workers across the country are leveraging their digital strength and sending a clear message to the restaurant industry that they should be paid what ‘they deserve.
The below-minimum wage for tipped workers is a direct legacy of slavery that has long contributed to some of the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry. It is time for policy makers to take action to ensure fair wages nationwide.
On May 25, I joined downtown San Francisco’s restaurant workers in a nationwide wage strike to demand an end to below minimum wage and a decent and fair wage nationwide. . We have engaged in civil disobedience to draw attention to the continuing injustice that tipped minimum wage workers are forced to endure every day and have been arrested by the SFPD as a result.
As a wealthy white man, my arrest experience was probably more comfortable than the conditions that many tip workers in our country face every day. 70% of women working as waiters, bartenders or other roles in the restaurant industry report having experienced sexual harassment from their employers, colleagues or customers. COVID-19 has only exacerbated these problems and worsened the working conditions of vulnerable employees.
Now, with our country facing an unprecedented hiring shortage, especially in the restaurant industry, it is slowing our economic recovery. Hardworking Americans simply don’t want to risk their lives for a pittance. It’s important that allies in California, which is already a One Fair Wage state – a state that requires all employers to pay full minimum wage with fair, non-discriminatory tips – with a stronger restaurant industry to prove it. , join this fight.
I’m a successful business owner, former executive, and now an investor in old and new businesses across the United States, so I know what a good investment looks like. I have researched and seen for myself how ending the below minimum wage and adopting a full and fair minimum wage with extra tips is good not only for restaurant workers, but also for owners and customers. Before the pandemic, the seven existing fair-wage states had higher restaurant industry growth and even higher tip rates. Even now, although all restaurants have struggled mightily with COVID-19 closures, restaurants in One Fair Wage states have on average seen less decline in their number of open businesses in the hospitality industry.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from the chefs of corporate restaurant chains that have long been fighting against wage increases. Call after call, these CEOs not only said that a higher minimum wage for all workers didn’t hurt their business, they also admitted that it is in fact better for business.
Denny’s chief financial officer, for example, said on an investor appeal that California by raising its minimum wage had helped the chain outperform there relative to the rest of the country. Naturally, this led to a shareholder revolt against the company’s continued lobbying against a $ 15 minimum wage. If companies like Denny’s admit that One Fair Wage is good for their bottom line, they are violating their fiduciary duty by spending millions of dollars to lobby against fair pay laws.
That’s why our protest in San Francisco started outside downtown Denny. We must hold them accountable for their hypocrisy and the low wages they still pay our brothers and sisters across the country.
In the end, the federal government has already bailed out restaurant owners to the tune of over $ 28 billion in the past year and a half. It’s time the federal government paid the same attention to restaurant workers and demanded that they get what they deserve.
The House has acted. Now we need the Senate to pass the entire wage increase law, which would end lower wages for tipped workers and make a minimum wage of $ 15 the law of the land.
As a business leader and investor, I know that what’s good for people is good for business. We are a consumer-driven economy, and putting more money in the hands of workers is key to stimulating demand. On the other hand, smart business leaders know that inequality is bad for the economy and bad for business. With the pandemic driving more profits and government bailouts into the hands of the owner class while impoverishing and bankrupting workers, we are all going to find ourselves in a worse position unless a radical change is made.
Restaurants don’t have a labor shortage, they have a wage shortage. This is why I stood in solidarity with the restaurant workers and was arrested alongside them during their national wage strike. It’s time to demand better for everyone. Call your representatives and let our leaders know that we demand a just and prosperous economy, and therefore we demand to give all workers a living wage.