PHOTOS: Workers hold minimum wage ‘birthday party’ inside Olive Garden

The Olive Garden in Center City was packed Wednesday afternoon with patrons enjoying a late lunch or an early drink.

“We’re here for the birthday party,” a group of people said to the hostess. The young woman waved them through to the bar area without question.

As waves of “partygoers” continued to inundate the eatery, staff soon realized the group – much it comprised of advocates with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia – wasn’t commemorating an anniversary for a friend.

They were calling to the 22nd “birthday” of the stagnation of the federal tipped minimum wage.

Wednesday marked the the fourth year that has passed without an increase in the country’s federal minimum wage, which sits stagnant at $7.25 an hour, and the 22nd year that’s gone by without a hike in the federal tipped minimum wage, which remains $2.13 an hour – $2.83 in Pennsylvania.

Though the party ended peacefully after activists sang a few rousing rounds of “Happy Birthday” inside the packed bar, they said they’ll continue to fight.

“The restaurant industry is a multibillion dollar a year industry,” ROC Philadelphia legal coordinator Sheila Maddali said.

“The industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy and the only industry that continued to grow during the recession. However, the restaurant industry is the lowest wage employer in the country.”

ROC estimates servers are three times as likely to live at or below the poverty rate as the rest of the U.S. workforce and use food stamps at double the rate.

They claim companies like Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants, Inc. – which also runs the Red Lobster and Capital Grille chains – together with lobbyist the National Restaurant Association, “set the industry standard by aggressively advocating against wage increases.”

Workers and activists are calling on legislators to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015, index the minimum wage to increase with inflation and boost the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the full standard.

The national day of action for minimum wage increases reached all the way to the Capitol Wednesday, where elected officials gathered to urge Congress’ swift passage of the measure.

“We have to make sure that working families can keep up with the economy,” Fair Minimum Wage Act sponsor Sen. Tom Harkin said in a statement.

He noted between 2009 and 2012, rent has risen 4 percent, food is 8 percent more expensive, child care costs have grown by 9 percent, and public transportation costs for the average worker have risen 13 percent.

“Also, by increasing the minimum wage, we can give tens of millions of workers more money in their paychecks to spend at local businesses, increasing sales and boosting economic activity,” Harkin said.

minimum wage
Most Americans across all political parties support raising the federal minimum wage, according to a Hart Research poll.

Some stats

According to an Economic Policy Institute analysis, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would:

>> Boost pay for more than 30 million low-wage workers in the country.

>> Generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity.

>> Support the creation of 140,000 new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand, which drives 70 percent of the economy.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…

National

Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…

National

Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Local

NYPD: Stroller carrying 2-year-old rolls onto Queens subway…

A 2-year-old girl in a stroller rolled onto subway tracks in Queens on Monday morning, police said.

Entertainment

‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…

Movies

Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.

Music

Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.

Movies

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a different kind of genius…

The man known worldwide for his portrayal of London's eccentric private detective Sherlock Holmes is trading his Belstaff coat for tweed this fall. Benedict Cumberbatch…

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.