The General Assembly passed the state budget early in the morning on April 9, 2022, which included $50 million of relief funds for restaurants-–without a guarantee that help will mean meaningful relief for Illinois’s restaurant workers.
For too long, restaurant workers have been forgotten. Today in Illinois, tipped workers — of whom restaurant workers are the vast majority — are not guaranteed a full and fair minimum wage. Instead, they are paid a subminimum wage: $7.20/hour. The pandemic has made things worse: tips are down, and harassment is up. That is why thousands of workers have left the industry and won’t come back until they can earn a fair wage. They simply can’t return because their families can’t survive on $7.20/hour.
Any relief for restaurants should be predicated on raising the wages of workers. And short-term relief will not be enough to bring workers back to the industry. Only ending Illinois’s subminimum wage for tipped workers will do that. Illinois should take the long-term step to guarantee restaurant workers earn a full and fair wage.
“No relief for service industry restaurant workers, but legislators are going to sign a bill for Restaurant Owner Relief. What about the service workers in the restaurant industry? We want relief. Help us because we voted for you. The way to give us, the workers, relief is to pass One Fair Wage. NOW is the time to end the subminimum wage in Illinois by any means necessary. We must end this harmful practice and devaluation of human labor.”
Antoinette ‘Jewel’ Simmons, a longtime Illinois restaurant worker
“Illinois has an opportunity to change the face of the industry and influence other states to end the inequities plaguing restaurants for decades. Home to Chicago and its 27 Michelin-ranked restaurants, Illinois can affect permanent change by ending the subminimum wage. The relief provided by the federal government is based on the existence of these unfair wages. We must give them a higher threshold so we can keep restaurants alive.”
Monique Carter — MJB Restaurant Group / SKETCH
The Illinois Full and Fair Wage Coalition is made up of workers, social justice organizations, and restaurant owners who are demanding the end of the subminimum wage for tipped workers.