Wednesday marked 4 years since the minimum wage was last increased. The federal tipped minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 per hour for 22 years (its $2.65 in Michigan). I-along with our Chef at Colors and one of our ROC members- went down to Russell Street Deli at Eastern Market to have a press conference around raising the minimum wage. It was really cool!
We had workers speak about the struggles of working at minimum wage. I was responsible for coordinating our tipped worker who was speaking at the press conference. The minimum wage is $2.65 for tipped workers in michigan so as a working mother- not knowing how much you would make each night (if there was going to be enough for food and rent)- working on the tipped minimum wage is extremely stressful. There was actually a lot of press there (which was surprising because of the bankruptcy). We had coverage from Channel 7, Channel 2, WWJ radio, Mlive, WLNS, and MIRS! We also had politicians there supporting a raise in minimum wage.
To me the best part of the press conference was hearing Jason speak. Jason is the owner of Russell Street Deli and he spoke as a business owner who pays well above the minimum wage. Since taking over the restaurant and increasing wages his businesses has grown! I think it was really important to have a small business owner talk about the importance of paying high wages- and how to be successful while paying high wages- since most of the criticism of raising the minimum wages is how it will hurt small business owners.
But the best part of my day was when I was riding the bus home. I wore a ROC-MI shirt to the event our speaker could find me but also show that ROC-MI supports an increase in the minimum wage. The bus was full so I had to stand up next to the bus driver. And she was just going on and on about how excited she was when she drove past all of the raise the minimum wage rallies. It felt great to be a part of something that means so much to so many people