If you, like me, are forced to go out to dinner on this corporate created holiday of love expressed through consumerism, remember your wait staff and don’t contribute to their exploitation by being a cheap tipper. Plus poor tipping contributes to the poverty of women.
And a sexist one. Seventy percent of restaurant servers are women, so effectively when you enforce a policy that says “It’s O.K. to pay tipped workers less than ‘regular’ workers,” you’re discriminating against a job largely done by women and reinforcing the age-old notion that women’s work is worth less than men’s.
It’s almost as if servers have to interview with the people paying the majority of their wages — customers — every time a new person sits down; their income is dependent on our judgment and largesse (and, we hope, our sense of fairness). And when you listen to Saru Jayaraman, co-director of ROC-United and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and a woman who hears workers’ stories daily, you realize even more what an unjust situation this is: “The level of sexual harassment is four times higher in restaurants than in the average of other sectors, and there are endless stories of women being sent home to dress more sexually — to show more cleavage, for example.”
On Thursday, ROC-United had its annual “2/13” day of action, calling on us, and Congress, to “love your server” and raise the tipped minimum wage. Valentine’s Day is the second busiest restaurant day of the year, after Mother’s Day. Thank that server — who is not going out to dinner with her loved one, she’s waiting on you — and think about this: For 23 years the federal tipped minimum wage has stood at $2.13. Isn’t it time to change that?
Yes. Yes it is. To the federal minimum wage. Which will hopefully soon surpass $10.