BOSTON — Two funds have been created to provide direct assistance to help support full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts who have been impacted by the COVID-19 closures.
An emergency order from Gov. Charlie Baker required the state's restaurants and bars to shut down their on-premises service and transition to takeout and delivery only. Local restaurants have been scrambling to adjust their operations and develop options for staff.
The One Fair Wage Campaign has launched what it's describing as a "massive online fundraising effort" for an emergency cash assistance fund to support tipped and service workers nationwide facing economic hardship amid coronavirus-driven closures of restaurants and other businesses where they work.
The goal, One Fair Wage President Saru Jayaraman said in a statement, is "to give as many workers as possible cash assistance of $213." Jayaraman said that amount is "a nod to the horrific $2.13 federal sub-minimum wage for tipped workers."
The campaign had raised $114,373 toward its goal of $213,000 on Friday shortly before 1 p.m.
The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams have joined together to create the Restaurant Strong Fund.
The fund's goal is to provide $1,000 grants to as many qualifying grantees as possible. Sam Adams kickstarted the Restaurant Strong Fund with a donation of $100,000 and a commitment to match donations through March 31 up to an additional $100,000.
On Friday at 12:50 p.m., the Restaurant Strong Fund had raised $346,440 of its $500,000 goal.
The One Fair Wage campaign, which advocates eliminating sub-minimum wages for tipped workers, is arguing that unemployment insurance is insufficient for workers who derive much of their income from tips.
The minimum wage for tipped workers in Massachusetts is $4.95, while the standard minimum wage is $12.75. Both wage floors are scheduled to gradually rise under a 2018 law, with the standard minimum wage slated to hit $15 in 2023. The tipped minimum wage will rise to $6.75 in 2023.
State law requires employers to make up the nearly $8 per hour difference between the standard and tipped minimum wages if gratuities are insufficient.
A pair of bills, filed by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Sen. Patricia Jehlen, would do away with the lower tipped wage in Massachusetts and require all employees be paid the same minimum wage, regardless of whether they receive tips.
At a rally in support of the legislation last June, Farley-Bouvier said that of the state's 166,000 workers covered by the lower tipped rate, 67 percent are women, including 74 percent of restaurant servers but those female servers make less than 80 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues. The restaurant industry has cautioned that the change would burden business owners and create additional costs that would be passed on to consumers.
Material from State House News Service writer Katie Lannan was used in this report.