Last night the state of Maine and city of Flagstaff, Arizona celebrate unprecedented victories when their leaders and citizens pass ballot initiatives eliminating the tipped minimum wage and establishing One Fair Wage for all workers. An incredible victory for the residents of Maine and Flagstaff, tonight’s results have national implications, galvanizing a movement for One Fair Wage that is gaining momentum and inroads in cities and states across the country.
Last night’s results will have a transformational impact on the lives of tipped workers in Maine and Flagstaff. Largely women and people of color working in casual dining establishments like Denny’s or The Olive Garden, tipped workers are forced to accept a lower, sub minimum wage (an abysmal $2.13 at the federal level), and thus rely on tips — i.e. the whims of customers — rather than their employers to make ends meet. Tipped workers face disproportionate rates of poverty, sexual harassment and discrimination as a result of the precariousness of living off tips. The establishment of One Fair Wage in Maine and Flagstaff will provide the economic stability necessary to ensure these workers can adequately support themselves and their families.
On a larger scale, these important victories will inspire workers and their allies nationwide to keep up the fight for One Fair Wage. New York State, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington D.C. are just a few of the locations where the movement is gaining considerable ground.
Earlier this year, the Democratic Party endorsed One Fair Wage as necessary policy for the entire country.
ROC United Co-Founder and Co-Director, Saru Jayaraman said, “Congratulations to the people of Maine and Flagstaff, Arizona for ensuring that all workers, tipped or untipped, receive a fair, living wage for their hard work. With last night’s results, Maine joins seven other One Fair Wage states — including California and the entire West Coast — all of which have seen their restaurant industries flourish since eliminating the subminimum wage. Maine and Flagstaff are this movement’s latest victories, but they certainly will not be the last.” She continues, “While we join workers and their allies in celebrating this important victory, we know that this fight is far from over. Our movement will only continue to grow as more and more Americans learn of the incredible hardships facing our nation’s tipped workers. All workers — tipped or untipped — deserve the dignity of a fair, living wage. We applaud the great state of Maine and the wonderful city of Flagstaff for leading the way toward a better, brighter, and fairer tomorrow for our nation’s tipped workers.”