Schumer turns waiter to support higher wages for restaurant workers

Local News

NEW YORK — Sen. Chuck Schumer turned server for an hour at the Hunky Dory Restaurant in Brooklyn Friday.

The Senate Majority Leader wants to draw attention to what he calls a subminimum wage industry that’s prompted thousands of restaurant workers to leave the business during the pandemic and not return.

He thinks step one is raising the minimum wage.

“We have to give working people that view that if they work hard, they can have a better life and their kids can have a better life than them,” he said. “And when you work at sub-sistance wages, you can’t do it.”

Even with Friday’s mostly positive jobs report, many employers still report having trouble finding applicants for open jobs as they try to return to business as usual.

For April, New York State’s unemployment rate was still double it’s pre-pandemic number. Nearly half of small business owners surveyed by the National Federation of Independent Business last month said they were struggling to fill slots, many blaming enhanced pandemic-related unemployment benefits for the shortage.

But most economists argue that a lack of childcare, ongoing health concerns, low wages and other priorities likely play a bigger role which could explain why pandemic job losses hit women the hardest.

“The corona pandemic has only made the wage gap for women with children worse,” says Rep. Carolyn Maloney. “Women make up a majority of healthcare and social service workers and have disproportionately shared the burden of essential work during the pandemic, working on the frontlines.”

Maloney led a roundtable on the gender wage gap Friday. She points out that during the pandemic, more than 3 million women dropped out of the labor force. She believes more solutions are needed to not only help mothers return to work, but thrive.

Friday’s jobs report shows women posted the most job gains in the May numbers but the roundtable stated that unequal pay remains an issue that must be addressed.

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