Five 555 restaurant servers take their boss to task for opposing minimum wage increase
Workers at the restaurant Five Fifty-Five in Portland aren’t happy that their boss claimed to speak on their behalf in opposition to the minimum wage, making their opinions known in in a Maine Voices column published in the Portland Press Herald this morning. The piece is jointly authored by Five Fifty-Five server Heather McIntosh and four of her colleagues (who remain unnamed for concern of their future employment prospects).
“Mainers and Portlanders are proud of our restaurant scene and our food culture and we should all be standing together to make sure the people who work hard to keep it going can make ends meet and put food on the table for their own families,” they write in the op-ed. “That’s why we support a real minimum wage increase that includes waiters and waitresses. It will help build a stronger local economy and a stronger restaurant industry, just as similar increases have done across the country.”
The servers disagreed strongly with Five Fifty-Five owner and Maine Restaurant Association vice-chair Michelle Corry’s op-ed last week attacking the statewide referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage, which includes the gradual elimination of the $3.75 subminimum wage for tipped workers. They accused her of making a series of false claims.
“Corry points to Seattle as a negative example, but that city, where they have no subminimum wage for tipped workers and just increased their minimum wage far higher and far faster than Maine’s referendum would, has seen a restaurant boom. A recent headline in the Puget Sound Business Journal declared “Apocalypse Not: $15 and the cuts that never came – Seattle’s top chefs are opening new restaurants at a dizzying pace,” the op-ed reads. “Corry’s claim that workers would have to choose between a fair base wage and receiving good tips is similarly false. Rates of tipping are the same or higher in states with one fair minimum wage for all workers.”
The five servers called Corry’s anti-minimum wage advocacy “just the final straw,” saying they are “submitting our notices and will be leaving her employment.”
Restaurant workers and owners who are supportive of a minimum wage increase will be holding a media event at Vena’s Fizz House in the Old Port later today to speak against a competing measure proposal advanced by corporate lobbyists in Augusta in an attempt to derail the referendum.
Photo: Restaurant server Heather McIntosh speaks in Augusta in favor of the referendum to increase Maine’s minimum wage.
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