This holiday season, many Moms across the country find it hard to be festive when they are struggling to put meals on the table for their children or pay their utility bills.
A single mother of five may work long hours in a restaurant for meager pay and need assistance from a local food bank to help feed her kids. This is just one example of a low-wage worker who has not – like many other Americans – seen the “economic recovery” reported in the news media.
Between 2009 and 2012, 95 percent of the income gains have gone to the top one percent of earners. The majority of new jobs created have paid low wages, and many middle-income jobs have been eliminated. Middle-class families saw about 30 percent of their wealth disappear over the past decade, while the cost of goods and services they rely on steadily increase.
In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.
Raising the minimum wage nationwide would increase earnings for millions of workers, and boost businesses’ bottom lines nationwide. In fact, 25 million Americans would get a modest raise if Congress raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour—where it’s been held since 2007—to $10.10.
New research on the working poor in the US released by Oxfam America and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that despite the stereotype that low-wage workers are teenagers, 88 percent are not. The report shows that more than 35 percent of low-wage workers, or nine million of them, are parents. These six million mothers and three million father care for 15 million children, and these workers are the primary breadwinners in families that include spouses, aging parents, siblings, and other relatives.
Restaurants across the Philadelphia area continue to violate employee wage and tip laws – even following a multi-million dollar settlement by Chickie’s & Pete’s, the sports bar franchise.
In February, Chickie’s & Pete’s agreed to pay out about $8.5 million to compensate employees for failing to pay them minimum wage and improperly taking a portion of their tips, federal officials and the company announced.
Many restaurant owners think they can get away with stiffing their workers, and they often do. The industry-wide practice of not paying employees the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, not paying overtime for working more than 40 hours per week or taking a portion of their tips and distributing among owners or chefs is a violation of state and federal laws. It just stinks.
Perhaps the Chickie’s & Pete’s settlement will make restaurant owners reevaluate their employee compensation plans. It’s time for hard working Americans to be paid a higher minimum wage.