Restaurant Opportunity Centers (ROC) United is made up of “13,000 restauarant workers, 100 high-road employers, and thousands of engaged consumers” who work to raise restaurant industry standards. Originally formed in New York City to support displaced restaurant workers after the tragedy of 9/11, ROC United has expanded to support other cities around the United States that are trying to accomplish similar goals of improving the wages and working conditions of the nation’s ten million restaurant workers.
Restaurant Opportunities Centers-New York (ROC-NY) has recently made news on the issue of minimum wage workers in New York State. The state minimum wage increased from USD $7.25 per hour to USD $8 per hour; however, restaurant and hotel workers who receive tips were excluded from the agreement. ROC-NY has taken action to persuade New York Governor Cuomo to include tipped workers in the minimum wage increase, but he has yet to take action.
In mid-January, ROC-NY hosted an event called “Surviving on $5: Women Workers in the New York State Restaurant Industry,” which put the spotlight on the issues of low-paid, tipped restaurant workers, who are mostly women, suffering from economic insecurities.
The restaurant industry is fast-growing with over 10 million employees nationwide; but, despite industry growth, restaurant jobs remain low-paying with minimal benefits. ROC has also been involved in coordinating workplace justice campaigns, providing job training, and conducting research and policy work. The organization supports “high-road” restaurants that have worker-friendly policies and believe that higher wages lead to better business.
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