The Untold Story of Restaurant Work in the U.S. [Infographic]

Did you know the minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 for the last 21 years?

By Jorge Rivas Feb 04, 2013

Did you know the minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 for the last 21 years? And that 2/3 of workers earthing that subminimum wage are women.

The Welcome Table has illustrated a beautiful infographic with the shocking facts.  

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There are 20 million workers throughout the U.S. food system, who harvest, process, ship, sell, cook, and serve the food we eat every day. Over half of them – 10 million -work in restaurants, in literally the lowest-paying jobs in America. 90% of these workers don’t have paid sick days, and with a minimum wage for workers who earn tips stuck at $2.13 for the last twenty-one years, most of these workers can’t afford to take the day off when they have the flu or worse. That means that two-thirds of these workers report that they’re forced to cook, prepare, and serve our meals while they’re sick. These startling statistics are the result of corporate lobbying groups’ influence on Congress. So even if we’re choosing healthier menu items when we eat out, our health and well-being is impacted by the fact that the people who touch our food are impoverished and sick.

Increasingly, Americans are choosing to dine at restaurants that offer organic, fair-trade, and free-range ingredients for reasons of both health and ethics. But not many people think about the workers who helped bring that food to the table.

Saru Jayaraman, the co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the Director of the Food Labor Research Center has written a book titled "Behind the Kitchen Door" that looks at workers’ rights in the restaurant industry.

Learn about Jayaraman’s new book and check out the infographic at

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