Giving Compass' Take:

• The One Fair Wage Emergency Fund is helping to support service industry workers who are not eligible for unemployment insurance during COVID-19.

• How are you helping local service industry workers in your community? 

• Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on service workers.

COVID-19 has revealed the deep structural inequities of the service sector, and has thus created a tremendous opportunity to organize both workers and employers for the change we’ve always needed. We can’t go back—we can only go forward together and reimagine an industry in which all thrive.

Before the pandemic, there were more than 13 million restaurant workers and nearly 6 million tipped workers across the United States, including restaurant, car wash, nail salon, tech platform delivery, and other workers. The National Restaurant Association had argued since emancipation that, given customer tips, they should be able to pay their tipped employees a subminimum wage, today just $2.13 an hour federally.

The subminimum wage for tipped workers resulted in a horrific experience for millions of tipped workers as a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. We estimate that between 4.5 million and 9 million restaurant and other tipped workers have already lost their jobs. Most are ineligible for unemployment insurance; hundreds of tipped workers have reported to us that they are being denied unemployment insurance because their subminimum wage plus tips is so low it does not meet the minimum threshold to obtain unemployment insurance. In other words, these workers are being penalized because their employers paid them too little.

We launched the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund on Monday, March 16, to provide cash relief to thousands of low-wage service workers; the fund has exceeded 150,000 worker applicants in the past month. We have built an army of almost 1,000 volunteers who are calling each worker to screen them for need, organize them into One Fair Wage, and register them to vote. Our organizers then follow up with potential leaders to organize them into our relational voter program and ultimately, win One Fair Wage.

Read the full article about supporting service industry workers by Saru Jayaraman at YES! Magazine.