Spectrum News NY-1: Politicians Get a Taste of What It’s Like Working in a Restaurant

Originally published by Spectrum News NY-1

This time it was cooks, waitresses and busboys who were the ones being served.

The wait staff: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Assembly Members Ellen Jaffee and Walter Mosley.

“They can see how hard it is to serve the people,” said Israel Cuevas, a busboy.

It all took place at Locals, a soon-to-be-opened Brooklyn restaurant.

They want Albany and Washington DC to mandate a $15 an hour minimum for all tipped workers. Back in July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour nationally.It would also eliminate the sub-minimum wage applied to tipped workers. Jeffries, one of its sponsors, would like the Republican-led Senate to pass the bill.

“For him to roll up his sleeves and serve restaurant workers and then to recognize the importance of this issue, I think it’s extraordinary,” said Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and President of ROC United.

Here in New York State, these workers can make as little as $7.50 an hour, before tips. Critics say the measure will lead to job losses in this industry.

Last year, Governor Cuomo directed his Labor Department to study the issue.

“I fully expect that once that is done that the governor will see the importance of supporting elevating these restaurant workers, a majority of whom are women and often people of color to one minimum wage so they can support their families,” said Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.

The governor’s office says the Labor Department is currently in the review process.

Seven states, including California and Minnesota, have already eliminated the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.