Video: Restaurant workers sing for “Money”

NEW YORK – What do New York City restaurant workers want? More MONEY. That’s what workers in some of NYC’s top restaurants were saying when they lip-synced and danced to Barrett Strong’s Motown classic “Money (That’s What I Want”).

Restaurant workers are sending a message to Albany lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to at least $9.00/hour when they do the budget this month. Right now, un-tipped workers make $7.25/hour and tipped ones make a base wage of $5.00/hr. Even working full-time, this comes out to poverty wages for 60 percent of food workers, as only servers and runners in the highest-end restaurants pull in big-time tips.

These stats are courtesy of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, a membership-based workers center organizing to improve wages and working conditions in the restaurant industry. ROC-NY was formed out of the surviving workers of the WTC’s Windows on the World, and also started NYC’s first worker-owned restaurant on Lafayette St., Colors, which is featured in the video. ROC-NY made the video with Strong Economy for All, a coalition of unions and community groups fighting for economic fairness

“We’ve been working nine years now without a wage hike from Albany, and in this economy, many of us are really struggling,” said Brenda McLean, a restaurant worker and a member of ROC-NY.

“Raising the minimum hourly wage to $9 and making sure it goes up as the cost of living goes up would go a long way toward lifting many of us out of poverty,” she said.

“Not all of us work in $30-plate restaurants and bring home $400 a night in tips. Most of us are just getting by.”

Photo: Following President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage during his State of the Union address, New York City restaurant workers are organizing for a higher New York State minimum wage. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.