Diner Workers Win Fight To Be Paid $5.25 Per Hour By 2026

Employees at one of America’s most popular diners are finally in with a win following strikes and a lot of union pressure. 

Minimum Wage Challenges

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It can be tough for workers on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. 

Hospitality Sector Workers

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More often than not, these are people working in the hospitality sector – a sector in which people are statistically more likely to experience in-work poverty than elsewhere. 

The Controversy of Tipped Minimum Wage

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Experts argue that this is primarily due to the “tipped minimum wage” where under current labor laws, restaurants can pay as little as $2.13 per hour if tips bring the total earnings up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour – a rate that has not changed since 2009.

State-Level Initiatives vs. Federal Stagnation

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While some states have taken steps to raise the minimum wage for restaurant workers – like California’s historic $20 per hour minimum wage for fast-food workers or Washington State’s $16.28 per hour – a lot of the time increases to the federal minimum wage just don’t affect tipped hospitality workers.

Worker Activism at Waffle House

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That’s why workers at one of America’s biggest restaurant chains have been pushing back this year against unfair wage practices and safety issues. And now it seems as though their efforts have begun to pay off.

Waffle House Announces Wage Hikes

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Waffle House has announced that it is finally set to increase pay for its employees. After a year-long push of strikes and protests, the restaurant chain has caved and announced a series of wage hikes.

CEO’s Announcement

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Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers III broke the news in a video message to employees. Starting in June, base pay will jump to at least $3 per hour and will keep climbing until it hits $5.25 per hour by June 2026. 

Cost Coverage Through Menu Price Adjustments

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Rogers said they’ll cover the cost by bumping up menu prices, and the pay hikes will roll out faster in urban areas than in rural ones. The company is also adding bonuses for long-term workers and extra pay for late shifts.

Bonuses for Long-Term Employees

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Long-term employees will get a tenure bonus. If they’ve been with Waffle House for three years or more, workers will get an extra 50 cents per hour, which can go up to $3.20 per hour for those with over 30 years on the job. 

Extra Pay for Shifts with Lower Tips

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Waiters and waitresses working shifts where tips are consistently lower will also get an extra 50 cents to $1 per hour.

Waffle House Commit to Tips

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Waffle House has 2,000 locations – mainly in the South and Midwest. Despite the changes, they have promised employees can keep their tips – no tip-sharing or pooling here.

Union Involvement

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Unions and employees have fought a tough battle over these wage increases. The Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), linked to the Service Employees International Union, has been turning up the heat on Waffle House all year. 

Strikes and Organized Protests

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They’ve been organizing strikes, demanding not just higher pay but also 24/7 security and an end to the controversial $3.15 daily meal deduction from workers’ paychecks – which happens even when workers don’t eat.

Employee Reactions 

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One Waffle House employee from Atlanta said, “The raises show that the company is feeling the heat. We’re going to keep organizing and keep fighting until we win.” 

Ongoing Organizing Efforts

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Workers have been pushing for up to $25 per hour, so the fight isn’t over yet.

Unaddressed Safety Concerns

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While the pay hikes are a start, Waffle House hasn’t addressed all their workers’ concerns. Safety is still a big issue, especially at locations open 24/7, which have become hotspots for violence. There have been several violent incidents recently, including a shooting near Ohio State University and another in Indianapolis. So far, no new safety measures have been announced.

Going Viral

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Waffle House has become a meme over the past few years, as footage of brawls from multiple locations across the country has surfaced online. Recently, video game director Katsuhiro Harada, famous for his work on the fighting game Tekken, posted on social media about creating a Waffle House-style location to include in his fighting game series.

Broader Implications of Wage Increases

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Waffle House’s pay raise is a big step forward for its workers, but there’s still a long way to go. 

Future Prospects 

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Whether we will see more strikes in the months ahead remains to be seen, but with unions and employees still pushing for more changes – including better safety measures and higher wages – this story is far from over.

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The post Diner Workers Win Fight To Be Paid $5.25 Per Hour By 2026 first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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