To: Clyde's Restaurant Group
Clyde's: Allow Employees to Speak Freely
Imagine your boss asks you to publicly oppose raising your own pay. That's exactly what Clyde's Restaurant Group (Hamilton, Clyde's, Old Ebbit Grill) did this month, when it pressured employees in an email to make public statements against raising the tipped minimum wage in Washington, DC.
We're calling on Clyde's to quit pressuring employees to sign a restaurant lobby's petition, and to pledge not to retaliate against any employee who supports this legislation. Restaurant employees should be allowed to freely express their opinions as private citizens, just as anyone else.
Why is this important?
For seven years, I worked as a busser and barback at Clyde's in Chinatown. Clyde's is often bustling with interesting people, and I enjoyed serving them. But the job was not without financial hardship. During seven years working full-time at Clyde's Chinatown, I never once received a raise or even a paid sick day.
While at Clyde's, I made the tipped minimum wage of $2.77 an hour and relied on "tip out" to make up the rest of my hourly wage. Often times, it was not enough to live on, and despite working full-time at Clyde's, my paycheck was usually just $20 or $30. Sometimes I received a $0 paycheck because everything I earned went to taxes.
I have left Clyde's, but I decided to come forward on this issue when I heard that the Clyde's group was asking its staff to publicly support a petition against raising the minimum wage. Because I no longer work there, I'm able to speak for others who fear losing their job.
As a tipped barback and busser, I was barely getting by at Clyde's. I understand that waitstaff at boutique establishments are well compensated, but that's just not the reality for the rest of us. Dave Moran, the owner of Clyde's told the D.C. Council that tipped employees make $18 an hour. That might be true for some waiters and bartenders, but bussers and barbacks are tipped employees too, and I could never hope to make that much.
It's time to raise the tipped minimum wage to give workers like busboys, barbacks and food-runners a chance to make enough money to live. And if you want to hear from more people like me, you need to make sure employees feel like they can speak out.
It's not too late for Clyde's to set an example for the rest of the industry, and stop claiming that its employees are freely speaking their opinions on this issue.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/nostri-imago/