Restaurant workers rally at Olive Garden for minimum wage hike

restaurant opportunities center philadelphia
Advocates with the Restaurant Opportunities Center rallied in May against Fat Salmon sushi for alleged tip theft.
Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Advocates with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Philadelphia will rally Wednesday afternoon at the Olive Garden in Center City, calling on elected officials and big business owners to support policies increasing the federal minimum wage.

According to the group, the restaurant industry is the country’s largest low-wage employer.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center estimates servers are three times as likely to live at or below the poverty rate as the rest of the U.S. workforce and, overall, use food stamps at double the rate of other workers.

Advocates claim companies like Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants, Inc. – which also runs the Red Lobster and Capital Grille chains – together with Fortune 500 restaurant brand lobbyist the National Restaurant Association, “set the industry standard by aggressively advocating against wage increases.”

At the heart of the protest is the fact that Wednesday will mark the fourth year that has passed without an increase in the country’s federal minimum wage, which sits stagnant at $7.25 an hour despite a continued rise in the cost of living and growing profits enjoyed by restaurant industry titans.

The tipped minimum wage has for 22 years been frozen at $2.13 per hour, though in Pennsylvania, it’s been raised to a paltry $2.83 per hour.

Activists are attempting to garner support for legislation like the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 introduced earlier this year by Sen. Tom Harkin (D–Iowa) and U.S. Rep. George Miller (D–Calif).

The bill 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 minimum wage.

According to a new poll released Wednesday by Hart Research Associates, 80 percent of Americans – including 62 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Independents – support raising the full federal minimum wage and indexing it to the cost of living, as proposed in the legislation.

“Four years without a raise is three years too many,” Harkin said in a statement released Wednesday.

“While millions of workers have been without a raise, costs have continued to climb.”

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.

“We have to make sure that working families can keep up with the economy,” Harkin said.

“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.”

According to an Economic Policy Institute analysis, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would boost pay for more than 30 million low-wage workers in the country, as well as benefit more than 15 million children whose parents would see pay increases under the law.

The report also pointed out that, as 70 percent of the economy is driven by consumer demand, raising the minimum wage would actually help the very business owners who lobby against it.

Though businesses often cite lack of demand as a major reason for lack of growth, the nonpartisan center estimates raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate more than $32 billion in new economic activity and support the creation of 140,000 new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand.

Wednesday’s protest in Philadelphia, slated for 1:30 p.m. at 1346 Chestnut St., is part of a national day of action in 30 cities that also includes a noon press conference at the country’s Capitol, where business leaders and workers will gather with elected officials, including Sen. Bob Casey (D–Pa.), to call for immediate congressional action to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal prosecutors charge 3 men in multi-million dollar…

Federal prosecutors in New York charged three men in connection with a $33 million fine art scam that spanned more than two decades.

Local

Metro-North unveils solar-powered kiosks at Bronx station

The Woodlawn station will take part a pilot program to test solar-powered kiosk with real-time arrival and departure times for connecting services.

Local

Central Park's Tavern on the Green to reopen…

The famous Central Park restaurant Tavern on the Green will once again welcome diners on Thursday, April 24 after its closure in January 2010.

National

University of New Mexico running back arrested for…

By Joseph J. KolbALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A University of New Mexico football player has been arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a…

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Jason Kidd reacts to Mike Woodson being fired…

Jason Kidd played for Mike Woodson last year and Joe Johnson spent four seasons being the main focus on offense for Woodson in Atlanta.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.