Report shows over half of Houston’s restaurant workers live and work in poverty

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HOUSTON, TX - "Behind the Kitchen Door," a new report on Houston`s restaurant industry, paints an ugly picture for the city`s over 236,000 restaurant workers.

One of the study`s authors says what the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United found was shocking.  Their Co-Founder, Saru Jayaraman, says “Over half of Houston’s restaurant workers live and work in poverty.”

According to the report, nearly one in 10 employed Houstonians work in the restaurant industry. And those that serve your food are often paid low. Lower than minimum wage. The majority make $2.13 an hour, and have to rely on tips to make up the difference between that and minimum wage.

Those here are calling for lawmakers to change the laws that let bars and restaurants pay so little, hoping that the tips make up the difference.

They hope more restaurants will take their lead from places like Joe`s Crab Shack. They made headlines when they started to test a 'no-tipping' policy in 18 of their 130 locations nationwide. Workers there can now expect to make $12 to $14 an hour.

Critics of the move say costs of paying workers a higher wage would have to be passed on to the consumer, or would put them out of business all together. But in seven states, tipped workers already must be paid minimum wage, and the industry in those states is booming.

From the "Fight for 15" to the fight for what this group calls "One Fair Wage," big labor is definitely making a big push for change this election cycle - and not just pocket change.

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