The debates have begun about whether higher wage guarantees for some of America’s most vulnerable and most effected by the pandemic should be part of the government’s recovery. When I write it like that, it seems obvious that a higher min. wage and an elimination of the tipped min. wage ($2.13/hr in TX), need to be included in the US response to this crisis. It won’t happen overnight but it will show that we are committed to putting our hourly workers on a better foundation for the next crisis. Extending paid sick leave benefits will further ensure that hospitality employees can stay home and not forfeit wages when they are ill. The gov’t should help businesses transition because it is in the public health interest to keep employees in high-touch industries home. The benefit to the community will be immeasurable. Increases in payroll and income tax revenues. Decreases in expenditures on SNAP benefits and other forms of gov’t assistance that are used disproportionately by tipped workers.
L’Oca d’Oro will be re-opening its’ patio in a newly designed and expanded way in the early spring and we’ll be paying a base of atleast $15/hr, along with 2 weeks paid time off and full payment of their Direct Primary Care premium. We want a healthy staff for when we invite guests back. We hope that the federal government wants the same.
We can’t do it alone. Since the pandemic began, many Austin restaurants have changed the way they pay their employees with the help of Good Work Austin and RAISE and we’ve gotten the opportunity to consult with others in Raleigh, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Burlington, Providence and more who are figuring out how to do the same. They’ve realized that there is no healthy industry if owners, employees, guests and suppliers are healthy.
Next time you’re going to spend money at a restaurant, give them a call first and ask them how they pay their staff just like you would call to see if they have any gluten-free options. When restaurant owners know that this is an issue that customers are using to weigh where to go on Friday night, we may finally see the last of the tipping points. Until then, it will be the same rhetoric about lost jobs and thin margins that was used to rail against the 40 hour workweek and defend child labor.