It seems Saru Jayaraman was taking notes the day Rahm Emmanuel crassly advised, “You never let a crisis go to waste.”
The restaurant industry has been devastated by the coronavirus outbreak, and tipped workers across the country have found themselves out of work and without a steady source of income. One Fair Wage, an organization run by Saru that aims to eliminate the current tipping system, has set up an “Emergency Coronavirus Affected Workers Support Fund” in response. The organization claims the fund will provide “no-strings-attached cash assistance to tipped restaurant workers.”
As with many of Saru’s projects, this may seem like a noble attempt to help workers in need, but a closer look reveals that it’s nothing more than a money grab for the organization.
Far from being “no-strings-attached,” numerous caveats come with receiving this cash assistance. For instance, only current members of OFW and individuals who are willing to become members are eligible. Additionally, any new “member” must agree to a confirmation interview with an organizer. But that’s not all — buried at the bottom of OFW’s website is a clause that reads, “The One Fair Wage campaign will deduct a standard administrative fee and any unspent funds will support tipped worker organizing and advocacy efforts.”
Simone Barrone, a restaurant worker from Seattle and director of employee advocacy for the Restaurant Workers of America, had this to say in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, “They’re [OFW] taking advantage of the crisis to raise money for themselves. That should tell anybody right there what kind of people these are…They’re wolves. That’s what they are—predators.”
This shameful attempt to exploit a pandemic comes just months after the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United own restaurant COLORS NYC closed after not being able to sustain the business model OFW, and Saru, advocate for.
The best way to continue to support your local servers and delivery drivers during these tough times is to remember to tip well if you order out.