Restaurant Opportunities Center United publishes its 2011 edition of Diner's Guide to the Working Conditions of American Restaurants [PDF]
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.