March 1, 2013

Behind the Kitchen Door

Would you like a real eye-opener with your coffee?
Author Saru Jayaraman discusses her book, "Behind the Kitchen Door" -

"Women earn less than men across the board, and one of the key issues for women is actually that the minimum wage of tipped workers of $2.13 is concentrated mostly among women. Seventy percent of all tipped workers in the U.S. are women. And the thing about this most people have a hard time understanding is that there are livable wage jobs in the industry for people who live in New York or D.C., or L.A. but think of a server as a tall, white, fine-dining server, but in fact the majority of servers in America are servers working in Middle America in IHOP or Applebee’s or Olive Garden—and those are a vast majority of women.

Many of them are single mothers who struggle with low wages and lack of benefits to take care of their children. And that is what’s hard to understand. When we talk about segregation and discrimination, we’re talking about giving the best jobs—serving and bartending positions in fine-dining restaurants, but that’s by no means the majority of wait staff. America’s servers—the vast majority of whom are women—are working graveyard shifts for very low wages of $2.13, often in Middle America.

So there’s a race question, in terms of getting to those fine dining establishment serving jobs, and a gender question, in that the restaurant industry is the only industry in which it’s pretty much legal to pay women less. And I say that because the industry as a whole for the regular minimum wage is half and half, men and women, but when you look at the far lower-tipped minimum wage, the vast majority is women."
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