“What happened during emancipation with … the idea of ​​mutating the tip from an additional bonus in addition to wages to wages itself – as a substitute for wages – really cannot be understood as anything other than a devaluation of life and black people become women’s work. “- Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage

If you’ve paid attention to the news, you’ll find that there has been a lot of talk about the federal minimum wage lately.

Today Uncle Sam sets the minimum wage $ 7.25 per hour However, some states have their own minimum wage laws that allow workers to earn a little more than federal law.

But if you’re a restaurant worker who deserves tips, this is it The minimum wage is $ 2.13 an hour and has been on hold for decades.

Today in America Forty-three states have minimum wages for tipped workers, while only 28 of those states have state minimum wages above $ 2.13. This means that in 15 states and Puerto RicoTipped restaurant workers take home an hourly wage just enough to buy a pack of chewing gum.

The $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, which was previously the talk of the town, was first introduced with a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour. It also eliminated the tilted $ 2.13 minimum wage. Oh, Senate officials closed the proposed minimum wage increase down, but politicians and advocacy groups continue the $ 15 battle.

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Saru Jayaraman is one of those warriors.

As President of A fair wage Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, works to ensure that workers in restaurants are paid fairly with tips. The lawyer and professor reminds us that the legacy of tipping in the United States is based on a legacy of slavery.

How it works: In the United States, tips became widespread in the 19th century after the Civil War. Emancipated black men often worked as Pullman porters on trains, while black women worked in restaurants. And although both groups were liberated, they were first exploited and denied what they rightly deserved.

“The idea of ​​changing the tip from an additional bonus on top of wages to wages itself – as a substitute for wages – really cannot be understood as anything other than a devaluation of black lives and women’s work,” says Jayaraman.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has been fighting for economic justice and other equality issues for decades. He is the national co-chair of the Campaign of the Poor and says that racism goes beyond racial slur and violence.

“Racism is not just police brutality.” Rev. Barber continued, “Racism also happens when you use public order to discourage people from receiving health care and they die. In this particular epidemic, the majority of the people who died first, who went to work first, got infected first, got sick first, died first, were poor people with little wealth. “

Learn more about tips, minimum wages and the fight for justice in this episode of Unpack That.