June 4, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mixed drinks and waited on tables at a Jackson Heights restaurant Friday to promote legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage for tipped workers.
Nearly 100 guests and activists gathered at The Queensboro Restaurant, located at 80-02 Northern Blvd., to watch Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender, serve customers at around 4 p.m. for an hour.
The event, held at the venue where Joseph Crowley learned of his defeat to Ocasio-Cortez in last June’s primary, aimed to promote the “Raise the Wage Act.”
This federal legislation, co-sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez, would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over the next six years. This would apply to tipped workers who currently receive sub-minimum wages, she said.
“The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13 an hour. That is unacceptable,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a video tweeted by organizers of the event Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC). “Any job that pays $2.13 an hour is not a job, it’s indentured servitude.”
Although New York State has a much higher tipped minimum wage, between $7.50 to $10 per hour depending on a business’s size and location in the state, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged Governor Cuomo to sign off on increasing tipped workers base wage to be $15 like other New York workers.
New York is one of 43 states, not including Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, that has a subminimum wage for tipped workers, she said.
Dudley Stewart, co-owner of The Queensboro Restaurant, said Ocasio-Cortez’s Raise the Wage Act is a step in the right direction and he agreed to hold the event since he wants to learn more about the legislation.
“We want to open up discussion about the minimum wage and raising it,” Stewart said. “It’s a complicated subject so we want to see what would be best for both the restaurants and their employees.”
The legislation was introduced on Jan. 16, 2019 and has been referred to the House Education and Labor committee.
I was nervous that I may have lost my touch – still got it! That muscle memory doesn’t quit 😉
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 31, 2019