NEW YORK - Hundreds of tipped and low-wage workers, mostly minorities from the fast-food and car wash industries, rallied through the streets of Harlem today urging New York State officials to do away with the law permitting sub-minimum wage for 229,000 tipped workers in the State.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who joined the protesters, said "in an increasingly unaffordable city, tipped workers remain among the lowest-paid hourly workers." "An hourly wage of $5 an hour," she added, "is simply not sustainable for an individual or a family."
One of the tipped workers at the demonstration, Juana Tenesaca, said "we work very, very hard and deserve a raise, just like other minimum wage workers in this State." "I have worked as a waitress for many years, earning the tipped minimum wage, and it's impossible to raise my children never knowing how much money I'll be able to bring home at the end of the day." She added that "my daughter had to get a job while she was still in high school to help support our family and that breaks my heart."
New York State permits employers to pay less than the minimum wage---just $5 per hour---to restaurant servers, delivery workers and other service workers. Employers are legally required to "top off" a tipped worker's pay when it falls short of the regular minimum wage, but the protesters claimed that lax enforcement enables employers to routinely violate minimum wage, overtime and other wage and hour lawswith allegedly minimum repercussion.