Beware the Restaurants

I don't know how it is that I've been so naive.

I knew the minimum wage was $7.25 nationally and $8.95 in Oregon.  I also knew that most people earning that wage were adults, not teens.  And I knew that it wasn't possible to pay rent and utilities, maintain a vehicle, buy healthy food and clothe yourself and your family at that wage.

Waitress Barbie: The Career Collection
What I didn't know was that waiters and waitresses aren't included.  That's right. If you work in a restaurant and receive tips, your employer barely has to pay you at all.  You get $2.13 an hour.  $2.13. No more than what the minimum wage was in 1975. Meanwhile, what you could buy for $2.13 back in 1975 would cost $9.41 today.

Living here in my little bubble, I was flabbergasted to learn what every waitress in America already knows. No business should be able to buy your labor for $2.13. They will say that if the waitress doesn't earn enough in tips to meet the $7.25 national minimum, the restaurant has to increase her wage. And here all this time I thought my tips went to enhance the incomes of waitstaff, not to backfill so their corporate offices could horde even more.

I'm appalled.  So I found a great resource letting me know what many national and urban restaurants provide for their workers.  It's available as an iPhone or Android app too.  Looked through the entire list and couldn't find a single national restaurant chain guaranteeing at least $5.00 to its lowest paid worker.  Not even $5.00!

One more excellent reason to avoid national chains. Among the worst offenders?  Olive Garden and Red Lobster. No more soup and salad on the road from Olive Garden for me.

Here's the link if you'd like to see for yourself.